What do you get when you mix a lame Top Gun with a vain 2001: A Space Odyssey and throw in the financial expectations and subsequent integrity restraints of summer? You get Stealth.
Set in the near future, the Navy develops a technologically advanced fighter jet tutored by three top fighter pilots: Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas), Kara Wade (Jessica Biel) and Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx). But little do they know, they are the ones being flown (insert sinister laugh). In between vacationing on exclusive exotic islands, carousing and dropping not-so-subtle hints at sexual tension, Gannon, Wade and Purcell are forced to try and gain control of ''EDI''--the fourth aircraft, manned by HAL-like artificial intelligence--with that creepy voice to boot. See, EDI was struck by lightning on the first mission, which causes ''him'' to go a little off the deep end and threatens to exacerbate the war it was created to stop and kill scores of individuals. If it sounds a bit inane and outlandish, that's because it is. Perhaps the most edgy Stealth ever gets is when one if its three stars is given an early exit.
Stealth's stars aren't exactly well cast as the elite, cocky fighter pilots. Clearly, they are all fine actors, but the studio's desire to capitalize on budding superstars--and perhaps getting them on the cheap--might have backfired here. Foxx, in his first role since his Oscar-winning performance in Ray and the pandemonium that followed, is better-suited for a comedy or heavy drama even though he tries, unsuccessfully, to inject his brand into Stealth. But Lucas as an action star? It's simply not meant to be. For each of his many plights, during which he is forced seethe and yell, you can't help but think of his career-defining role opposite Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama. Biel, meanwhile, is the film's closest plausible casting choice, but like the rest of her co-stars, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre beauty does not effectively overcome her unfortunate typecasting.
Stealth was a logical next step for director Rob Cohen. It's not unlike 2001's The Fast and the Furious, but taking place in the sky. It's obvious that Cohen has a penchant for the loud, but the high volume here is barely loud enough to keep audiences' eyes open. And Cohen's special effects are more akin to a videogame than unrest in the sky. At times, the visuals even bear a striking resemblance to Tim Burton's vanity claymation side-projects. Granted, this film might be a palpable segue into its likely foray into the gaming world, but the tracks could've been covered a little better. And apparently, the closer the shot, the faster the action and scene transitions and the less the audience is able to ponder and dissect what has just happened, which certainly isn't to suggest every frame is not clearly and explicitly spelled out for summer audiences.
Although a unique sci-fi genre, Stealth falls short of being entertaining and at times, is unintentionally funny.