Image courtesy of www.impawards.com
Josh Lucas……….Lt. Ben Gannon
Jessica Biel……….Lt. Kara Wade
Jamie Foxx……….Lt. Henry Purcell
Sam Shepard……….Capt. George Cummings
Richard Roxburgh……….Keith Orbit
Joe Morton……….Capt. Dick Marshfield
Ian Bliss……….Lt. Aaron Shaftsbury
Ebon Moss-Bachrach……….Josh Hudson
With the further advancement of technology, and its subsequent takeover of once common tasks, a recurring theme in science fiction has been machines waging a war against their human creators. From the Schwarzenegger franchise of The Terminator and the The Matrix trilogy to the Asimov-themed I, Robot, machines raging against their human counterparts has been a commercially viable movie staple for years. There is something in the human experience that fears replacement by a collection of circuits and wires. From the auto industry to word processing, computers and machines have replaced a lot of positions formerly occupied by those of flesh and blood.
And that’s exactly what the crew of a top secret military operation feel when an unmanned plane joins Lieutenants Gannon (Josh Lucas), Wade (Jessica Biel) and Purcell (Jamie Foxx). They are the best pilots in the military and as such they have differing reactions to their newest compatriot. Gannon feels that the ship can’t replace human thoughts, instincts and moral judgments. Wade thinks the idea of technology is pretty interesting and is all for it and Purcell is ambivalent about it. And everyone’s worst fears occur when the ship is struck by lightning and rewired; the military loses its control and the plane goes rogue. It’s up to Purcell, Wade and Gannon to take out their former partner before it threatens to take out masses of innocent civilians, or at least for the first part as it goes from being a top notch science fiction action movie into an underachieving rescue movie.
Stealth seems like it would be a brainchild of a director like Michael Bay but instead comes from someone of similar talents: Rob Cohen. Famous for the surprise hit The Fast and the Furious and the Bond wannabe xXx, Cohen is similar to Renny Harlin and Bay in that he doesn’t seek to create a masterpiece that wins awards. He creates loud, explosion-filled fare that seeks not to enlighten an audience, just to entertain it. But what starts out as an edge of the seat science fiction movie in the vain of The Terminator quickly turns into a complicated and convoluted Rob Cohen action movie.
The premise of the film is that the machine, nicknamed “Eddy,” evolves beyond the control of his master. The trailers reflect this as well, but that would be a bit of a misnomer. The first act of the film the machine is good and turns to bad, but the latter half of the movie he goes from bad to good. Cohen seems to be trying to direct two movies and meshing them into one plotline. A thinking machine that turns on his creator makes for a good story and a relatively easy to hatch plot that doesn’t require too much. It’s a basic concept easily understood and yet the movie descends into an action movie so quick it’s baffling. And the quality disappears with it.
Stealth is a good movie until this point. There is suspense developing and the characters motivations’ regarding the situation is gripping. There is a hint of romantic tension between Gannon and Wade; Purcell is a welcome relief, and the motivations of those in command regarding “Eddy” after his malfunction is relatively intriguing. But all of this is rendered moot relatively quickly. The sort of dramatic tension from the three stars as well as the intrigue about the machine all disappear into a cloudy, explosion-filled atmosphere.
And it’s a shame, as Stealth is really well choreographed with top-notch special effects. Cohen takes his cue from Top Gun in terms of how to create a fulfilling and tension-filled dogfight and adds to it with modern weapons and CGI effects. It looks spectacular and the flight scenes are jaw-dropping at times. But the times the jaw drops are outnumbered by the sheer amount of action clichÃƒÂ©s that render a relatively cerebral approach in the beginning into any number of tired, repetitive action movies.