‘Stealth’ movie, like jets, should remain unseen

“Stealth” is a video game, sans controller. The look, feel and pace is that of a shoot-‘em-up action game involving fast jets, big explosions and wooden characters held together by a thin plot that is less important than blowing up all the bad guys before the clock at the top of the screen reaches zero. At least, it starts out that way. Halfway through this botched attempt at a popcorn flick, the pulse-pounding dogfights go away, and the one-dimensional characters and flimsy story line are left to stand by themselves. Without the special effects, the movie quickly falls flat with a series of unbelievable plot twists and annoying violations of both logic and basic laws of physics.

“Stealth” is the latest blockbuster from director Rob Cohen, the same mind that brought the “xXx” and “The Fast and the Furious” franchises onto the screen. As with Cohen’s other works, the goal is not necessarily to make a dramatic film, but to create a fun movie that provides an enjoyable time if not a lasting impression. “Stealth” does not do this. It is poorly structured, lacks a consistent story, and is devoid of anything close to engaging dialogue or interesting characters – in short, things that help make a movie fun.

The movie revolves around three top U.S. Navy pilots played by Josh Lucas (“A Beautiful Mind”), Jessica Biel (“7th Heaven”) and Jamie Foxx (“Ray”), who portray the respective roles of non-threatening all-American type, curvaceous tomboy and token black comedy relief. Yes, they really are that bland, unoriginal and uninteresting. They fly ultra-state-of-the-art planes ready to be mobilized. The catch: they’ll be joined by EDI, an even more ultra-state-of-the-art plane flown by a computer that thinks like a quantum sponge – whatever that is.

EDI’s programming is somehow altered when a bolt of lightning strikes it during the group’s return from a mission, so that it disregards orders in favor of eliminating national security threats. With the deadly plane now gone rogue, it’s up to the human pilots to save the day. However, after a few hours of cat-and-mouse EDI realizes the error of its ways and resolves to follow orders again. Unfortunately, some military bigwigs will get in trouble for authorizing the use of such an uncontrollable machine, and rather than face court-martial they attempt to kill EDI and the surviving heroes, destroying all evidence of their misstep. Josh Lucas teams up with EDI to rescue Jessica Biel from her crash site, where she single-handedly holds off half the North Korean army.

Oddly, the makers of this movie put their best fight scene up front. I immediately call to mind such great action movies as “Star Wars,” “Top Gun,” and “Independence Day,” all of which had the sense to save their best dogfights for the climax of the movie. “Stealth” squanders its in the first scene.

“Stealth” does look incredible when it tries to. The high-tech jet planes are really cool, and watching cocky pilots use them to blow stuff up could be lots of fun. The level that computer-generated effects has come to is truly jaw dropping. However, the movie itself is a lot like its CGI effects: all flash and spectacle, but nothing is really there.