Summer audiences get a Mach-5 work-over in Stealth, a supremely silly but ultimately fun popcorn shoot-'em-up. The script is a ham-fisted collection of cornball military clichÃs, but they fail to slow the film's whiplash-inducing forward motion.
Elite U.S. Navy fliers and best friends 4-ever Gannon (Josh Lucas), Wade (Jessica Biel) and Purcell (Jamie Foxx) are assigned a new wingman by their thorny captain (Sam Shepard). The new wingman is not a human being but instead a robot called EDI (for Extreme Deep Invader), which was created by the Navy in the hopes of someday replacing human pilots altogether.
Team leader Gannon has his doubts and says as much after EDI disobeys a direct order and turns a nuke-empowered terrorist cell into pink mist in the mountains of the former Soviet Union. When EDI is struck by lightning after a particularly treacherous mission, it begins to think for itself and decides that it's fun to blow things up. What follows is a circuitous route to redemption for almost all involved, replete with World War III-inducing skirmishes with the Russian Federation air force and despot du jour Kim Jong Il.
Stealth is Hollywood hokum in extremis, and while the Gannon/Wade romantic-competition subplot threatens to ground the film every quarter-hour or so, director Rob Cohen's mastery of the big-budget aerial action sequences repeatedly acts as an epinephrine jab to the heart of what might have otherwise been a high-flying DOA.