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MOVIES 'Stealth' one obvious, unconcealed atrocity against cinema



Published: Thu, July 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Hopefully, 'Stealth' will eventually disappear from the radar, never to return.

By ROGER MOORE

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

Rob Zombie's execrable "The Devil's Rejects" opened last week, which is a godsend to the producers of "Stealth." At least the talking fighter-bomber fiasco won't be remembered as "the worst movie of the summer."

"Stealth" flirts with competence when it steals from "Behind Enemy Lines," and staggers into hilarious ineptitude when it borrows from "2001: A Space Odyssey." And why anybody would bother to try to steal from "Top Gun" is a mystery for the movie ages.

Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx, in his last third-billed performance ever, star as hotshot Navy pilots flying the new Talon fighter-bombers. They're trained to the max, ready to sacrifice all, including one night in Bangkok, to prove themselves and their machines can get to any target, accomplish any mission.

Another computer gone awry

However, they have a new wingman. Edi is a UCAV, an unmanned combat aerial vehicle, a computer-piloted next-generation deep penetration stealth fighter-bomber. He talks like Hal, the computer in "2001." Which means he will soon go bonkers like Hal in "2001."

Lucas isn't keen on having "Tin Man" for a wingman.

"War is not a video game. War is terrible. It's meant to be terrible. If it stops being terrible, what'll stop us?"

His commanding officer, Sam Shepard, isn't hearing it.

"There's no blood in those quantum veins," he gushes.

Edi plays heavy metal power ballads when he flies into action, music he's downloaded from the Internet. Maybe that's why he goes renegade. The record companies are after him.

The rest of the team sets off in pursuit, requiring all sorts of contortions of logic, geography and technology to keep these gas-powered mach 4 aircraft airborne.

Where's the talent?

One pilot dies, one drops behind enemy lines, one flashes a lot of toothy grins and one looks pretty good in a bikini. At least the one fleeing North Korean soldiers makes us care and gives a compelling account of a bad bailout.

The jets look like animation when they're flying, a bit more real when they hit the carrier deck. It's the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, as a patch on Capt. Joe Morton's jacket plainly says. It's called the Abraham Lincoln in the movie.

Director Rob Cohen did "XXX," but also the very good Bruce Lee biography, "Dragon." He can do better than this. Lucas and Foxx are both better actors than they get to show here.

Biel? She was in "Blade: Trinity." Time for her to do some indie stuff or hightail it back to TV.

No doubt all involved will be running away from this credit any minute now. However, they can still take comfort in this: "Devil's Rejects" is worse.




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