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Plane Stupid 

'Stealth' was better the first time around, when it was a parody called 'Team America'

Stealth is the dumbest movie of the year, and one of the most idiotic I've ever seen. Inept at every turn, this ill attempt at Top Gun glory is proof that any action-movie screenplay can make it through the Hollywood system as long as the director promises at least one Jessica Biel bikini scene and some big explosions.

The director here is the sometimes-reliable Rob Cohen, who has made some OK movies (The Fast and the Furious) and some dreadful ones (xXx). Stealth represents the director at his absolute worst, trying to get by on nothing but flash, using all sorts of editing tricks and CGI wizardry to distract viewers from the fact his film is woefully vapid.

The film starts off with text telling us that the U.S. Navy has come up with some sort of elite flight program with only three pilots good enough to fly new stealth bombers called Talons. Those three pilots turn out to be Josh Lucas, Ray Charles Jamie Foxx and Biel. They are perfect for the job, because they often walk side by side in slow motion on the flight deck with big, "We are awesome pilots!" smiles on their faces.

Turns out that their commanding officer (Sam Shepard, what in the hell are you doing?) has a big surprise for them, because C.O.s just love to catch their soldiers off guard (makes for good poker table talk): They will have a fourth wingman in the air, the computer-controlled stealth bomber named Eddie, an attempt by the United States to remove human beings from warfare.

It's supposed to be remote-controlled, but a lightning strike during a mission screws the plane up, causing it to start "learning" and become self-aware. (You see, scientists just don't factor in that lightning thing when constructing billion-dollar airplanes with potentially renegade computer-guidance systems.) Eddie also realizes that it can download cool rock songs off the Internet, which it blares as it blows things up. The bomber really seems to like Incubus and Gavin Rossdale, which just goes to show you that the Navy can't invent a self-aware stealth bomber with decent musical tastes.

Our heroes wind up flying lots of super-important missions, diversions that occur in the middle of drills and test flights. Intelligence seems to get off on letting the Navy know with only a few minutes to spare that terrorists are meeting under skyscrapers or planning to assemble nuclear warheads. It's as if the CIA is sitting around, drinking sodas and whatnot, and trying to find ways to screw with the Navy. "Hey, isn't the Navy flying one of those top-secret drills with the self-aware stealth bomber today? Let's fuck with them! Tell them about the secret meeting of terrorists at the base of that skyscraper, but only give them a few minutes to do something about it. It'll be a hoot!"

So Eddie the Plane goes off and starts blowing things up at its leisure, pissing off its wingmen and getting good pilots in a lot of trouble. Of course, Eddie being all bad would traumatize our movie-going youth, so Cohen makes sure that Eddie redeems itself by film's end. There's nothing's more of a downer than a renegade, self-aware stealth bomber not getting a chance to show its soft, compassionate side.

Stealth is everything Trey Parker's Team America was parodying. The soundtrack sounds like the bombastic treacle composed for that film; the main enemy is North Korea, and the talking airplane reminds of the Intelligence computer, even if it doesn't speak like a skater. Throw in a puppet sex scene and Hans Blix getting eaten by a shark, and the copy would be complete. It's a clone of a parody, which is not good for a film that's trying to be taken seriously.

Stealth
Rated NR

More by Bob Grimm

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