Summer and popcorn movies go hand in hand. Popcorn movies aren’t a bad thing, unless the filmmakers pee in your popcorn. Nothing is worse than soggy, rancid popcorn passing itself off as the real thing.

Welcome to Stealth, or should I say, you’ re welcome to leave Stealth, a loud, obnoxious, annoying, stupid and vapid chunk of mind-numbing escapism which will leave your wallet and brain cavity feeling empty and violated. And those are its good traits.

It was only a matter of time before the pom-pom bomb-bomb movies made their way to theaters, patriotic flag wavers denouncing global evil with Made in America stickers plastered all over them. Patriotism isn’t a bad thing when its not being shoved down your throat, flag pole and all. As a recruitment poster for pretty people flying pretty planes, Stealth is appropriately static and flat.

Director Rob Cohen continues his fascination with all things fast and furious, taking to the wild blue yawn to tell the story of three hot shot Navy pilots who are the best of the best. Until they meet their new partner, an automated Stealth Bomber with a learning curve. Yep, just like Hal 9000, Eddie (short for Extreme Deep Invader, which sounds more like the title of a Ron Jeremy film than a big boy toy) has a mind of its own, one which becomes unstable and unpredictable after being hit by lightning.

Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas), Kara Wade (Jessica Biel) and Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx) are action heroes for a new millennium, Stealth fighter pilots who work and play together like a well-oiled machine. Like the hot shots from Top Gun, these three talk the talk, but they don= t have anything remotely interesting to say. So much time and effort went into manufacturing the shock and awe of the renegade killing machine, couldn=t the filmmakers have shocked us with awesome dialogue as well?

No! Cohen and Richter are so preoccupied with what goes on outside the plane they pretty much ignore the characters flying them. The dialogue is so anorexic the cast has no option but to chew the scenery. When the pilots are not relaxing under a tropical waterfall, we find them trapped in cockpits spewing macho mantra, which like their swagger across the deck of an aircraft carrier, is nothing more than posturing.

We never believe these actors are pilots. They= re props, flesh and blood crash test dummies to help fourteen year old boys realize this isn= t a video game, just a lousy simulation. I imagine Stealth was supposed to be another parable about the dangers of mixing man and machine, yet the only lesson being taught is how to waste a lot of money on things that go boom.

Like the computer is Wargames, Eddie doesn=t understand that he= s just a student. When Gannon refuses to initiate an order, Eddie takes it as a sign of weakness and completes the mission. It= s not long before Eddie pulls a Hal and starts reading lips, talking, (Stealth steals from so many films you lose count) and taking matters under his own wing. Much like the planes as they zip in and out of frame, Stealth is all over the place. There are moral issues to wrangle, political hot spots to extinguish, and a rescue mission which defies all logic but allows the filmmakers to momentarily ground the action.

Cohen is so love with speed (XXX, The Fast and the Furious) and things that explode he often neglects the emotional fireworks. Lucas (Sweet Home, Alabama), Biel (Dawn of the Dead) and Foxx (hot off of Ray) are capable and competent actors, and work overtime to squeeze whatever bonus miles they can out of this bankrupt credit card of an idea. The actors may avoid penalties, but anyone who pays to see Stealth is going to get ripped off.

Stealth BombThe Fast and The Infuriating


Josh Lucas, Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel, Sam Shepard, Joe Morton. Directed by Rob Cohen. Rated PG-13. 121 Minutes.

Larsen Rating: $2.00

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