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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Stealth (*1/2)


July 20, 2005

Last night, I checked out a free screening of Stealth, the new action movie that’s Top Gun meets Top Gun meets a mental patient who stays up all night watching Cinemax but doesn't understand the complicated plots.

Stealth opens up with a long series of place cards which helpfully inform the audience that “to combat terrorism” the U.S. Navy created three super duper advanced stealth fighters. Holy shit, no wonder we haven’t won the war on terror yet! We haven’t done what Stealth suggests is the solution to the complicated matter of international terrorism: send stealth fighters to shoot missiles at terrorists and blow them the fuck up. G.I. Joe had a more realistic approach to fighting terrorists and they had ninjas, pirates and dogs on their payroll. These stealth fighters are not only super fast and stocked with lots of missiles but they come equipped with female computer guidance voices, like the woman’s voice on the Star Trek computers except proficient in phone sex.

The opening crawl goes on to say that over 4,000 pilots were tested to fly the new stealth fighters and only three were chosen. Why only 3? Why didn’t they build 4,000 stealth fighters? Isn’t 4,000 better than 3? Think of how many missiles you can fire at terrorists if you had 4,000 stealth fighters. 

To further illustrate how unimaginative Stealth is, the three chosen pilots are given the following call signs: One, Two, and Three. Jesus, can’t they even try to come up with something more creative? I’ll do it for them them. The pilots chosen to fly the most advanced stealth fighters in the world are Josh Lucas (call sign: Sweet Home Alabama), Jessica Biel (call sign: 7th Heaven), and Jamie Foxx (call sign: Ray Charles.) They live their lives 1,000 miles at a time.

Lucas has the hots for Biel and shows it by banging floozies not half as hot as Biel and telling her about it instead of just asking Biel out. Foxx is in the movie, but not really. In every scene Foxx is in he’s practically rehearsing for Ray and Collateral instead of paying attention to how he’s supposed to act in Stealth. There are moments he’s sitting in his stealth fighter and he’s wondering why his taxi has wings and why Tom Cruise with a blond wig isn’t sitting in the back seat. Then he starts playing piano on the dashboard.

One day, a bomb of a different sort is dropped: The three stealth fighters have a new wingman. 

Jessica Biel: A fourth wingman?

Let’s see, there’s one, two, three of you already – that’s right, Jessie, four comes right after three. The fourth wingman is an artificially intelligent robot stealth fighter called E.D.I. (call sign: Skynet.) It’s a learning computer and the three heroes are supposed to fly with it on missions, at which point it will learn everything they know and then at a later point replace them. Lucas is not keen on the idea.

Josh Lucas: War isn’t supposed to be some kind of video game!

Neither are movies, but shit, look what I’m watching you act in. They do as ordered and take the robot on a mission where terrorists are hanging out in an office building in the middle of Rangoon. How do they have this intel? Because from their stealth fighters in the sky thousands of miles away, they can perform retinal scans and finger print analyses of the terrorists in question and confirm their identities as enemies of the freedom-loving peoples of the West. Now, how the fuck can they confirm the IDs of a bunch of terrorists by finger prints and retinal scans? How did they have their finger prints and retinal data already on file? When did the terrorists submit to having that data filed by American computers? Whatever, idiots.

Their mission is to shoot missiles at the terrorists and blow up the building – but blow it up with a missile without killing any innocent people. It’s an impossible mission, not in terms of the logic but because according to the movie, the only way to shoot the missile properly is to bank the stealth plane at an angle and speed that would cause a human to black out. They are ordered to let the robot handle it - that's what it was built for. Lucas disobeys orders because ain’t no robot gonna blow up a terrorist when he’s on the job. He pulls off the impossible maneuver, doesn’t black out, and fires the missile so that the office building implodes, killing all the terrorists (apparently only terrorists are in the high-rise building – no one else is, no janitors, night watchmen, etc.) but heroically not harming any innocent civilians. Lucas flies home, a job well done. 

Lucas’s commander Sam Shepard is pissed that Lucas disobeyed orders but then again, he killed some terrorists, so the commander gives all three of them a free vacation in Thailand. But not the robot, it has to stay on board the aircraft carrier, so the robot doesn’t get to hang out on the waterfall and watch Jessica Biel prance around in her bikini. 

Okay, stop here because this needs to be addressed clearly and in all honesty: Jessica Biel’s ass deserves its own paycheck for this movie. That ass is absolutely magnificent, a thing of heart stopping beauty. The rest of her is pretty fantastic too. Jesus. Would ya look at her? She’s unbelievable. For my money, Jessica Biel is far and away the hottest woman in movies today. Jessica Alba gets a lot of press and there is no questioning Alba’s hotness, but I’ll take Biel’s taut, athletic body and sweet, girl next door beauty over Alba. Biel is also probably a better actor although you’d never know it from Stealth. What Biel does do well is being physical and making you believe she’s in mortal jeopardy, more on that later.

Turns out the Thailand scenes really had no purpose other than to show off Jessica Biel’s body. There was some goofy comedy involving Foxx sleeping with some Thai woman he picked up at a temple and there was the important character building scene where Foxx reminded Lucas that Biel is the Navy’s supergirl pilot because she went to all the best schools (which ones? The movie don’t know) and if he sleeps with her, he’ll inevitably ruin her career. Wait, aren’t they all going to lose their jobs anyway when the robot planes replace them all? Sleep with her anyway, Lucas. She even blatantly asks him to over dinner and he walks out on her. Some hero.

Meanwhile, there are problems with the robot plane. When attempting to land on the aircraft carrier after the Rangoon mission, the robot is struck by lightning. Its circuits get fried and it starts acting funny. “Destroy all humans” funny. The first thing it does is download songs from the Internet, the joke is it downloaded every song from the Internet. Yet for some reason, it only wants to listen to songs from the Stealth soundtrack, imagine that. It would have been great if it also started downloading movies from the Internet.

Robot Plane: I downloaded this really shitty movie called Stealth. It was almost unwatchable but the robot plane in it was really good. Also, holy shit, Jessica Biel has an incredible ass. Why? Why was I programmed to feel aroused?

Anyway, despite noticeable problems developing with the malfunctioning robot plane, Commander Shepard, who is also growing noticeably more evil by the scene, sends it up with the three pilots on their new mission: a bunch of terrorists are transporting nuclear warheads on the backs of cows to some mountain castle in Pakistan. Their job is to shoot missiles at the warheads and blow them up. Biel accurately points out something her commander would have thought of before greenlighting the mission if he weren’t evil, that shooting missiles at live nuclear warheads would end up killing a lot of innocent people and create a poisonous radiation cloud. They can’t do that, she’d feel bad. Lucas concurs and calls for an abort. The robot plane says fuck that, disobeys orders and blows the terrorists to Kingdom Come, killing all those innocent farmers and creating that poisonous radiation cloud Biel was just talking about. As a result, it started an international incident, but there’ll be more where that came from.

By now, the Stealth fighters have noticed that the robot plane is messed up. The robot plane no longer listens to orders, goes rogue, and decides that its primary function is to destroy all enemy targets. Their evil commander, whose entire career is staked on that robot plane, orders them to bring it back to the aircraft carrier in one piece. How’re they gonna do that? Well, there’s no way to except to reason with it. The robot won’t listen to reason so Jamie Foxx decides he’ll bring him down the way they do everything else in the movie, with missiles. Missiles solve every problem. The robot figures out that Foxx is about to pop a cap in its ass and does the first and only neat and surprising thing in the whole movie. If you’ve read this far, you already know I’m giving everything away so you don’t care I’m dropping this bomb:

The robot plane kills Jamie Foxx, blows him straight to an Academy Award in a more prestigious movie. 

That was a pretty nice swerve and earned Stealth the one star rating I was contemplating giving it. (Ultimately, I’m awarding Stealth one and a half stars, one for the movie and another half a star for Jessica Biel’s ass. But I'm thinking it should be the other way around.) In the explosion caused by Foxx’s plane going boom, shrapnel fragged Biel’s plane, causing it self-destruct. Biel has to eject, and the movie does a second interesting thing: it forces the hot girl from 7th Heaven to parachute into North Korea. The evil commander points out “we have no diplomatic relations with that country!” and hangs Biel out to dry.

Stealth then eases off stealing from Top Gun and starts riffing on Behind Enemy Lines. Biel is shot at by the North Korean Army as she desperately tries to cross the forests and mountains into the DMZ and friendly South Korea. Unfortunately, opportunities were missed left and right here as Biel manages to evade her pursuers. What should have happened is Biel gets captured, locked in a gulag, stripped down, tortured, gets her head shoved in a bucket of water, and gets poisoned by scorpions, all while shitty Madonna music plays. 

James Bond: Been there, done that, not pleasant.

And then Biel should have been brought before Kim Jong Il.

Kim Jong Il: I’m so ronery…

Unfortunately, except for her getting clipped in the arm with a sniper bullet, Stealth pussies out when it could have gone for the gusto, mostly keeping Biel out of harm’s way. Biel is good in these scenes, though. As in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the athletic Biel can convincingly be chased by people out to kill her and make you care for her peril. Neither a damsel in distress nor a tiny waif, Biel can run, evade and fight more believably than most other actresses her age.

Meanwhile, in the skies above the world, Lucas is still chasing the crazy robot plane. They dog fight each other, take time out to refuel in mid-air, dog fight some more, end up in Russian air space, team up against Russian planes, and then start fighting each other again. By this point, I’m pretty bored. This movie just keeps going and going. I think it’s about two hours but it feels like seven. Instead of destroying the robot, Lucas comes up with an idea so brilliant it can’t possibly work and makes no sense. He launches his last missile into the sea as the robot chases him and creates a giant water explosion. The robot plane, which had holes shot into its hull by the Russians, flies through the water and miraculously, its fried circuits are rewired or whatever and it turns babyface. Holy shit, all the evil robot needed was a bath and it turns good again. 

Mr. Burns: I’ve had one of my unpredictable changes of heart.

Lucas and the robot plane are pals once more, but the movie keeps going on and on as the evil commander Shepard, realizing he’s gonna be court marshaled for all the shit he’s done, such as sending three pilots on a hot, sexy Thailand vacation with taxpayer money – and also that nuclear cloud over Pakistan the evil robot plane he built caused – arranges to have Lucas killed and the robot’s memory wiped in a super secret base in Alaska only the evil commander knows about, stocked with a bunch of bumbling idiots.

Lucas finally figures out that he’s been sold out. He steals the robot plane and uses all the songs from the Stealth soundtrack the robot plane illegally downloaded to distract the enemy soldiers while he launches missiles and blows up the secret base, killing them all. Wait, the robot plane has exterior speakers? Why the fuck would exterior speakers be built in a robot stealth fighter

Lucas steals the robot plane to go on one last mission: fly into North Korea and save Jessica Biel. Meanwhile, Biel does the only stealthy thing in the entire movie by making it undetected to the North Korean border but she is located before she can hop the fence into the DMZ. Just when she’s about to go on a one-way trip to (7th) Heaven, Lucas and the robot show up, kill every North Korean in sight and blow a lot of shit up with missiles. Lucas leaves the plane and runs with Biel to the DMZ and to safety. Just then, a helicopter gunship with more North Koreans arrive to kill Lucas and Biel. The robot plane takes off and makes a curious decision not to fire missiles. Instead, it inexplicably makes the ultimate sacrifice to save its human friends; colliding with the gunship, killing itself along with the North Koreans so that Biel and Lucas can make it to the warm, glowing, warming glow of the Demilitarized Zone. 

Captain Kirk: Of all the robot planes I’ve ever known, he was the most …human!

Finally the fucking movie is over. I didn’t even get to mention what happens to the evil commander (it’s sort of implied he commits suicide but the movie completely forgets about him). There was all this other crap going on with the billionaire software developer in Seattle who built the robot plane, the senator who for no reason whatsoever is only shot with cameras that are outside his office window, and Joe Morton (call sign: Miles Bennett Dyson) as the captain of the aircraft carrier who went to arrest the evil commander.

And for a movie called Stealth, they didn't do anything stealthy. What's so fucking stealthy about flying into a country at supersonic speeds and then shooting missiles at everything?

Despite the fact that they killed a lot of innocent people in Pakistan and Lucas illegally flew into North Korea, killed a lot of soldiers and basically started a war, no mention is made of the consequences of any of it. Instead, Biel and Lucas are instantly back on the aircraft carrier, all cleaned up for Jamie Foxx’s funeral at sea. No mention is made of what happens to them because of all the shit they did and all the people they killed. And even after flying to North Korea to rescue Biel, Lucas still doesn’t even kiss her. Biel ends the movie by calling him a pussy. Quite right.