Stealth (2005)

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard
Deeply ensconced in a top-secret military program, three pilots struggle to bring an artificial intelligence program under control ... before it initiates the next world war.
Loud, preposterous, and predictable, Stealth borrows heavily and unsucessfully from Top Gun and 2001.
  • Columbia Pictures Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 29 Jul 2005 Released:
  • 29 Jan 2008 DVD Release:
  • $31.7M Box office:

All subtitles:


Thoughtless, but entertaining in a non-insulting way (that's good)8/10
Stealth is devoid of higher thinking (or maybe any thinking at all). However it has couple of good things going for it:

1. Special effects are well-used. the planes and missiles and explosions rock. the dog fights do not rely on editing but are given a good effort.

2. Yes the premise is dumb - we assume correctly it would not be supported by thoughtful investigation into the mechanics behind the artificial pilot. However, the movie recognizes this fact and does not pretend to have given the matter much thought. It is straight and honest, though still mindless. But hey, that's alright sometimes.

3. The story is simple, but not linear - and that counts for a lot in a movie of this type, because it is unexpected and not required. Stealth has moments where it feels like an epic, albeit a mind-free one.

4. Have you noticed that it's often better to imply a romantic sentiment between the main characters rather than slamming it in your face, especially in an action movie which has precious little time to develop the relationship to begin with? You haven't? Uh that's not good... Anyway, Stealth doesn't kid us with a hasty obligatory romance but gives its characters some room to maneuver between inter-pilot and inter-personal relationships. What was the last summer popcorn movie you can remember that similarly uh, respected our intelligence? I am giving Stealth a lot of credit here. Let's just say if it insulted my intelligence, I was happy to let it slide this time because I was having a good time.

5. Ultimately Stealth is entertaining from beginning to end. It "respects" our intelligence by not appearing to be smarter than dumb. Stupid is less stupid when it doesn't pretend.

I hope you give this movie a chance, and notice how it differs in the formula and execution from what you may have anticipated and from other mindless summer blockbusters.

For Those Who Need A Dose Of Action7/10
If you are in need for a good dose of action, this is the film for you. By the end, you've had your "fix." Being someone who is fascinated by the Stealth bomber, I enjoyed most of the action. Only the last 15 minutes was irritating in its stupid action, not that the previous hour- plus was believable. At least it wasn't as ridiculous as those final scenes with Josh Lucas defeating 10-15 guys at once and Jessica Biel doing likewise. Lucas performs his "Kill Bill Vol. 1" routine at a warehouse while Biels is in the wilds of North Korea. In future viewings, I stop the movie before those parts.

The main story - human pilots flying Stealth bombers trying to stop a pilot-less, state-of-the- art totally computerized-driven Stealth which has gone wacky - is fun to watch. The latter is obviously very reminiscent of the computer "Hal" in the famous sci-fi film "2001: A Space Odyssey." There are more than just a few coincidences here as the computer reads lips of the people, has a mind of its own, etc. The big difference is that this updated-Hal has a heart, too. Yeah, it's really far-fetched.

However, if you can put your brain on hold for two hours and just enjoy some wild action shots, you'll enjoy this film. It's basically a fun ride.
This means war1/10
(Spoilers ahead)

My brother in law must hate me, and I cannot let this pass. I mean, I might have been able to let it go if his disdain for me had manifested itself in a more civilized manner, like him sucker-punching me in the balls and calling my kids ugly. But no, his hatred for me runs so deep, he chose to exact his villainy upon me in the form of this hell-spawn stupidity know as Stealth.

Each grating second of the film was like another twist of Lucifer's fiery trident in my face. Hours after this holocaust was but a distant memory to my TV screen, the horrific imagery was still burned in my retinas. I could still hear Satan's demonic host laughing at me, lead by my brother-in-law.

Stealth, which easily charges past XXX and The Fast and The Furious in its unwavering quest to be the stupidest movie of all time, was directed by Rob Cohen, who, in exchange for fame, is obviously bound by some unholy pact with the devil to assault all of his viewers' senses. And yes, I mean all my senses: this movie looked, sounded, felt, smelled, and even tasted like week old sushi.

The movie's plot starts by introducing a trio of hotshot pilots who fight hard, play hard, and have perfect hair and teeth while doing it. You have Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas), the fearless leader who is wild, unpredictable, and doesn't like to follow orders, but, gosh dangit, he's the best darned pilot they have. Then there's his love interest, Kara Wade (Jessica Biel), a woman whose skills surpass most men's, especially when it comes to filling out a bikini. Last, and certainly least, is Token Blackguy (Jamie Foxx), the promiscuous, hip hop listenin', basketball playin', and doomed-to-die comedic relief.

After completing a dazzling training mission filled with enough fast cuts to induce a seizure, our trio is informed by the evil military commander that a fourth member, piloting a new prototype plane, will soon join their group. But the new pilot is no ordinary pilot. No, it's actually a computerized, talking Times Square New Year's Eve Ball! And his name, obviously ripped off some budding porn star, is "Extreme Deep Invader" or EDI for short. EDI is the heart of the military's latest and greatest weapon, the Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV). He was also designed and built by idiots, because instead of being programmed to behave methodically, predictably, and controllably in the battlefield, he actually learns on the fly, picking up such useful skills like how to download illegal MP3s on the internet.

EDI is, of course, rushed into service during the hotshots' next mission, and before you can say "HAL900", he gets struck by lightning, goes all "Skynet" on them, becoming sentient. Luckily, his programmers equipped him to display a graphical representation of a DNA double helix being split for just such an occasion.

Soon afterward, the super team is scrambled to destroy some baddies holed up in a castle in the middle-east before the arrival of some ox carts bearing nukes (no, I'm not kidding). Despite orders telling him to stand down due to a high collateral damage assessment, EDI lights up the terrorists, spreading radioactive dust over the whole region. Not satisfied, EDI decides to off and kill several targets programmed in his hypothetical war scenario system, thrusting the plot forward into the man versus evil machine story. I could swear I heard my 3 year old say, "Saw that one coming."

From this point, the movie leaves the land of popcorn-movie incongruity and spirals into complete and utter implausibility. I won't go into too much detail, but one of our heroes dies, one manages to invade Russian airspace, shooting down 2 Russian jets sent to defend their homeland (ensuring the start of WWIII), and the other somehow crashes down in North Korea, requiring a rescue attempt that murders dozens of North Korean border patrol. And what about evil EDI? What else; he develops a conscience and sacrifices himself for the team, supposedly leaving you with a heart warming feeling. It left me with heartburn.

The abominable movie closes with the typical happy Hollywood ending where Ben Gannon and Kara Wade exchange love vows. Ah, nothing like true love to help forget about the impending apocalypse they just ushered in by invading Russia and North Korea.

You know, there are many ways to creatively describe hate. But the best one in this case, unfortunately, is not entirely my own. I couldn't help but think of one particular line in the cheesy dialog that, with a little modification, could perfectly describe this movie. At one point, in charge of maintaining EDI's brain, our stereotypical computer geek with bad hair, clothes, and, most likely odor, describes EDI as a "quantum sponge" that can learn at a geometric rate. Well, this movie is like a "quantum vacuum". The longer you watch, the more it sucks at a geometric rate.
Stupefying and hilariously terrible film3/10
Stealth is the best movie of the summer. And when I say best, what I mean is that it's the most hackneyed and predictable 130-million dollar piece of crap action flick of the year. Stealth has no intentional redeeming qualities whatsoever, and plays into every single textbook stereotype of the genre. Thus, if you're the kind of person who loves Mystery Science Theatre 3000, you must, must go see Stealth immediately.

Stealth follows the exploits of three Navy pilots in a top secret program involving, well, experimental stealth fighters. There's Lt. Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas): the white-bread pretty-boy with a smarmy attitude with a history of breaking rules and taking too many risks, played like a twisted caricature of 'Maverick' Mitchell of Top Gun. There's Kara Wade (Jessica Biel): the obligatory Caucasian hottie pilot who spouts cliched feminist rhetoric and sports an "I can do anything you can do, better" attitude aligned more with the Spice Girls than Andrea Dworkin; the pink teddy lingerie and frilly bra she apparently wears under her LuLu Lemon flight suit don't help her cause either. Finally, there's Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx) the black male who listens to rap music, has indiscriminate sex with as many women as possible, and poses for imaginary photographers in his bedroom. For no apparent reason he's also a mathematician and numerology nut who later expounds that "one is a prime number".

The fourth character is "Tin Man", the artificially intelligent experimental stealth fighter assigned to the squadron. Its brain uses "quantum computation" and processes "20 terabits per second" which is pretty impressive until you realize the number doesn't make any sense. Having a computer as sympathetic character is a pretty cool idea. At least it was in 1968 when Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey, though Tin Man's inflective voice and bizarre penchant for rock music suggests a closer relation to Max-- the shipboard computer in Disney's Flight of the Navigator-- than HAL 9000. This doesn't stop the writers from making bizarre homages to Kubrick's space opus; in fact one major plot point centers on the computer overhearing a conversation in a scene shot much like HAL's famous lip-reading in the Pod. The computer also has a big red eye, which is dumb because it doesn't need to see anything with it, but cool because it helps the computer emote more effectively.

After a minor sortie in Rangoon (where "three terrorist leaders" are meeting in "a building still under construction" (which is important because now they can implode the building without killing any civilians-- go America!)), and then an extended Thailand vacation sequence where the pilots engage in tedious ham-fisted metaphysical discussions about whether Tin Man is actually alive, the computer predictably goes nuts and decides to attack a fortified terrorist camp in Tzadzikistan or something that just got access to some old Russian nuclear warheads and SCUD launchers. (We know they're terrorists because of the turbans and the fact that they're moving the warheads around on carts pulled by mules.) The nukes get blown up but radioactive dust falls down the mountain side and kills "thousands of innocent farmers" which I guess is bad but they don't spend too long worrying about it because they have to catch the psycho stealth.

Usual stuff happens after that-- a pilot hits the side of a mountain, another one goes down inexplicably in North Korea, and the remaining one has to avenge his friend's death and rescue the other pilot from the Koreans' evil clutches. The ability of these planes to be in Rangoon, Tzadzikistan, Russia, Alaska, and Korea on just a few tanks of gas is explained by their ability to hit hypersonic speeds exceeding Mach 5 which is cool because it's like warp speed on Star Trek-- they punch a button and the planes zip away in a bullet cone of displaced air and end up in a new locale more suitable for extreme aerobatics. They also get to fly against the Russians which is funny because the Russians obviously haven't built any new planes since the fall of the Soviet Union, which begs the question: why do the stealths have such trouble with them? Why don't they just hit the Mach 5 button and get out of there? Is there something about the shocking yellow and brown paint job on the anachronistic Migs that impedes the functioning of hypersonic engines? The plot isn't really important-- what is important is that the movie contains a wealth of brain-dead inaccuracies for geeks to make fun of. From bizarre phrases like "the Stealth has firewall-ed the transponder!" to the fact that the Stealth's brain is made alternately from quantum hardware, neural networks, and DNA sequences depending on which one looks coolest for the effects sequence, and was apparently programmed by hand by one man using a futuristic language reminiscent of Matlab, to the way that the naval command is powered by transparent lexan PC cases decked out with coloured LCD cooling fans, this movie just stinks of technical naivety due to lack of research as opposed to creative liberty.

Stealth is a movie that begs its own drinking game. It should be watched with a group of people in an environment that engenders snarky comments. Stealth is not a good movie in any way, shape, or form, but it is a film that is so stupefyingly bad it absolutely must be seen to be believed.
A movie I shouldn't have seen and neither should you1/10
Every now and then a movie comes along that really makes you wonder at the depths of human nature, the very intricate framework that binds us together in society. Stealth is one such movie, if of course you replace "human nature" with "Jessica Biel's cleavage", and "intricate framework" with "mind-numbingly bad plot and acting".

It all begins simply enough with the same old introduction of the piloting dream team (for more information on high flying dream teams, please reference Top Gun, Apollo 13, and the 1992 Olympic Men's Basketball Finals). Surely enough, one of them is a visible minority, one a woman, and one a version of white machismo incarnate. So, at this point in the movie, can you already guess who's going to sacrifice themselves for the team, who's going to need rescuing, and who's going to save the day? Good, good, and we're only 30 seconds into the opening credits. Next, enter the 'wave of the future' that's obviously going to turn evil and yada-yada-yada. Then, of course, mysteriously relocate the technician who's nervous about the doomsday implications of said future-wave. Same old, same old. Can we see some boobies yet? Yes, yes we can.

We then continue aimlessly through this movie as it twists and turns… and twists some more… and then, seemingly at the end of its contortion, starts twisting back to where it came from – the sewer. Joined the whole way by bad dialog, a senseless plot and a host of mispronunciations, not the least of which was "Tajikistan" (pronounced tie-gee-kee-stan by our venerable commander), this movie begins on a downward spiral which ultimately emerges as a two hour Army recruitment commercial. Cue the rescue, and with it the fact that these pilots all have better aim than the guys trained to shoot, and you have a movie.

So, what was it about this movie that was supposed to be good again? Ah, I remember, the special effects, the ones that have been assaulting our eyes on TV every ten minutes for the past month and a half. They couldn't possibly fail there, right? Wrong. In some scenes, the planes would have been better off being constructed of plasticine, and the terrible digital flames marking the sight of one pilot's unfortunate and entirely foreseeable demise might as well have been drawn by hand for all the effect they had.

In short, this movie is awful, but who knows, someone out there might like it. So if you're the kind of person who still wonders how they get the caramel inside the Caramilk bar, go see this movie, otherwise, you might just go Oedipus on your eyes.