July 29, 2005


Directed by Rob Cohen Starring Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx

Reviewed by Martin Tsai

In the future according to Stealth, the top-gun U.S. Navy aerial squad will have only four pilots but will nevertheless be the poster child for affirmative action: Specifically, it will consist of a white man, a white woman, a black man and a robot. Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas) is blue-eyed, dimple-cheeked suaveness personified. Allegedly "groomed" by her superiors to be la femme Rambo, Kara Wade (Jessica Biel) is rugged enough to single-handedly fend off an entire squad of North Korean soldiers yet feminine enough to develop a girly crush on Gannon and frolic around the waterfalls in a thong bikini. The token black goofball/womanizer is Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx). EDI is the HAL 9000-esque flying machine that gives new definition to the word "autopilot".

Many things won't change in this version of the future imagined by screenwriter W.D. Richter though. When the elite pilots go clubbing, men will put the moves on some bimbos while the careerist woman will be stuck in the middle alone and unable to assert herself. While vacationing in Thailand, an American soldier will score an obedient, me-no-speak-English, me-love-you-long-time, get-me-green-card-so-I-can-leave-this-third-world-hellhole exotic beauty complete with a paper umbrella. The Pentagon won't abolish its Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, and U.S. Armed Forces will rather recruit a computer than a homosexual. In the future, they'll look back to a time when an Oscar-winning black actor would have played sidekick to a relatively unknown white performer in a summer tent-pole movie, and Hollywood would have had no qualms about milking the terrorism theme in light of the London bombings. Bathroom jokes apparently will still be funny.

Exactly as you'd expect, the black dude will sacrifice himself, the damsel will be in distress, and it'll still be up to the white dude with the Gillette smile to save the day. You can already imagine Stealth jacking up the testosterone and patriotic idiocy levels in some viewers off the meter in spite of the fact that cool CGI and deafening sound effects hardly mask the paper-thin story. There are gaping lapses in logic, such as pilots diverted to a combat mission in the midst of a test flight. Despite that the U.S. government has not officially adopted Myanmar as the new name of Burma since its 1989 military coup, Richter absurdly expects that to change in the future. He also bizarrely supposes that the presently non-threatening Tajikistan will somehow attain nuclear warheads, and even have them transported under broad daylight by cow carriages. When the pilots destroy those warheads and visit radioactive debris upon thousands of helpless local farmers, Wade perspicaciously reports "We need serious medical attention down there." Oops.

On the bright side, perhaps the crew of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will get a laugh out of all this in the future.

Reprinted from WestEnder. © Copyright 2005 Martin Tsai. All rights reserved.