by Scott Weinberg
Take only the most cursory components of "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Frankenstein," "Firefox," "Top Gun," --- oh, and let's say "Short Circuit," and wedge 'em all into one airtight box. Wrap that box in dynamite, hand grenades, used bubble gum, and broken glass, and then strap it to your back while you leap off a cliff screaming "I scored 420 on my S.A.TEEEeeeeee!" That's pretty much what "Stealth" feels like.Stealth is a movie about a rogue super-computer mega-swanky-jet-fighter, three cocky air force pilots, a whole lot of moronic nonsense, and a few random explosions. And, oddly enough, there's no "stealth" in this movie whatsoever. Being "stealthy" would imply a light touch, something delicate and planned with some strategic forethought. Nope, you'd be better off naming this fifth-generation knock-off wankfest something like Girth.
"This movie hated me from the opening scene; two hours later, it was mutual."
Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, and Jamie Foxx play three of the universe's most unlikely pilots. They're slick, they're stylish, they're completely unprofessional and entirely bereft of anything resembling normal human behavior. Basically, they're cartoon characters: the busty gal, the wise-cracking black guy, and the bland leader-boy. Yawn. Anyway, here comes the newest in jet-fighter technology: a completely computer-operated robot plane that's programmed to do exactly what it's told with pinpoint precision and unfailing accuracy. (Oh, except if it happens to get hit by lightning, which is precisely what happens on the plane's first mission.)
If I told you that the whole plot consisted of these three idiots trying to track down Blippy the Wonder Jet, you'd (logically) wonder how director Rob Cohen (a.k.a. the guy who directed xXx, Stealth, and The Fast and the Furious, and therefore makes Michael Bay look like Stanley Kubrick mixed with Ingmar Bergman) would be able to fill 110 interminable minutes with a premise this flimsy. After seeing Stealth, I'm still wondering myself.
Stealth just sits there like a huge, dead, tin-plated cat; a soulless, gleaming, and bloated husk, lazily trying to dazzle you with its own shrieking stupidity, at least up until the point when you realize that the filmmakers actually expect you to eat the thing up with a spoon, and then your slack-jawed amazement morphs into venomous contempt for the overpaid, under-thinking schlock-slingers -- mainly because, with the act of creating this movie, they're basically calling you, and everyone around you, a moron of the highest order.
Of course there's nothing new about aggressively mindless and borderline brain-dead action movies, but Cohen and company go well beyond the realm of stupid escapism and dip their feet into the pond of unwitting parody, with a quick side-visit into the fantasy world of hateful and woefully transparent jingoism. Frankly ... this movie made me kind of sick -- and more than a little humiliated. This is exactly the sort of low-minded and pandering propaganda piece that helps to foster and promote anti-American sentiments around the globe. And I seriously believe that. (Cinema being one of the few successful exports that America still has left, don't forget.)
Stealth is the sort of movie that A) whores out some unkind visual memories of 9/11 just to sell a stupid action scene, B) delights and panders in the death throes of anyone who's not American and beautiful, and C) actually has the audacity to showcase a big, gung-ho, kill-happy finale in North Korea in order to juice up ticket sales in the gun-lobby states. Frankly the sensation of Stealth is like listening to a mildly retarded 4-year-old give a lecture on the Vietnam War: It's embarrassing for all of us, and an absolute disgrace for whomever decided to put the kid up there in the first place.
Assembly-line product of the most migraine-inducing sort, Stealth is nothing but two solid hours of awful banter, poorly presented and shockingly unexciting action scenes, chest-thumping militaristic lip-service, and outright sci-fi plagiarism of the most shameless variety. It's a loud, hollow, callous, and hate-filled little cinematic abortion -- and I am indeed just a little bit stupider for having sat through it. Don't let it happen to you.Yeah, yeah, I know: "Turn off your brain and enjoy the mindless ride." I've heard it all before, folks, but here's the problem: "Stealth" doesn't want you to just "turn off your brain." It wants you to toss your brain into a paper shredder, chuckle at the shameless and contemptuous hatred displayed onscreen, and revel in a monumentally awful movie that's so blatantly cobbled together from other awful movies. Plus, here's a hearty "screw you" to any movie that asks me to turn off my brain. If I were actually ABLE to turn off my brain, I'd be too busy making movies like "Stealth" to form a rational thought.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12659&reviewer=128
originally posted: 07/29/05 14:04:04