..

STEALTH

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard, Joe Morton, Richard Roxburgh
Director: Rob Cohen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Sony Home Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 121 Minutes
Release Date: November 15, 2005

“I’m gonna give you the order one last time; return to the ship or I will personally shoot you down.”

“MY MANDATE IS TO SURVIVE.”

Film ***1/2 (On the Action Scale)

Every year seems to have its share of movies that get an unfair beating from the critics. One such movie is Stealth, which got panned left and right. I’m not too surprised that it hammered by critics, since action movies are something they and I always differ on. The thing of it is, it’s such a well made action piece with an amazing level of energy, which is one thing that was never acknowledged by a single critic.

From its opening frame, the movie seems to indicate a message, STRAP IN AND HOLD ON! Director Rob Cohen, who made a mark on the action genre with The Fast and the Furious and XXX, has made his most engaging action effort yet. It blends elements of Top Gun and Jaws, and creates a fast paced movie that may not score high on the intelligence level, but it moves so fast that you don’t really have time to think of anything.  

The plot involves a top secret military program, where the Navy has applied a new technological wave of air combat designed to destroy any threat of terrorism around the world. Hundreds of pilots applied, but only three were chosen; Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas), Kara Wade (Jessica Biel) and Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx). In other words, these three pilots are the absolute best of the best.

After a number of impressive flight simulations, the pilots are informed by their C.O., Cummings (Sam Shepard), that they will soon be joined by a fourth wingman. After long suspecting who the new pilot is going to be, the new wingman turns out to be an entire aircraft. It has supreme state of the art capabilities, as it is powered by the highest form of artificial intelligence ever created.

The unmanned plane, codenamed EDI, is greeted with mixed opinions by the human pilots. Ben feels that planes should be controlled by the pilots who fly them and nothing more. Kara feels pretty much the same, but Henry feels that this technological advance could help in getting the job done and ensuring their safety.

The movie kicks into high gear when EDI, returning from their first successful mission, is struck by lighting. It manages to completely rewire the plane’s entire neural system, which causes EDI to go haywire when sent back into the skies. When it starts to automatically select targets, the human pilots find themselves about to do battle with a deadly predator.

As you can probably tell, the plot of Stealth isn’t of any pure intelligence. But hey, when you can make up for it with amazing visuals, stunning effects and a super-fast pace, that is something of an accomplishment. About 85% of the movie takes place in the skies, and once the human pilots have to elude the clutches of a newly formed killing machine, it delivers consistent white-knuckle thrills. The movie itself seems to get better and better as it progresses, action wise and story wise.

Stealth can also be considered as 2005’s biggest explosion-fest. That may not sound much like a compliment, but trust me when I tell you that this movie contains some of the most jaw-dropping explosion sequences ever to be filmed. Two sequences, in particular, got my adrenaline flowing. The first a nicely crafted sequence when Ben, refueling in mid air becomes open prey for EDI, who earlier caused the fuel plane to leak excessively. The second is the big capper where the plane, trapped by armed men outside an air hangar, fires a missile at the hangar door, sending multiple vehicles and men flying in the air. This is, reportedly, the single biggest explosion to ever be filmed, and the end result is mighty, mighty convincing.

So as you can tell, Stealth delivers what action fans enjoy first and foremost. Not all movies can succeed in such a way, but this one found a way to do it. The mixing of a B movie plot with fantastic action and effects seemed to work in the absolute best way.

To simply put it, sit back, shut your brain off and have a blastin’ good time!

Video ****

Sony delivers an absolute outstanding looking disc with this release. The anamorphic picture makes awesome use of this very visually driven film. Image quality consists of nothing but amazing qualities, as clearness, pure detail and a mind-blowing array of colors make for a most incredible looking disc. The effects sequences ultimately shine, as well, in this riveting presentation.

Audio ****

I will not hesitate in saying that this is the absolute best sounding disc of 2005. Sony’s sound mix, which is offered in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and a most explosive DTS 5.1 track, illustrates the awesome power of DVD sound. And talk about a great disc to test your sound system on. Every sound element is in fantastic form, from dialogue delivery to set pieces to music playback (a great soundtrack too), and of course, the endless action, explosions and effects. All I can say is get ready to duck for cover because this superb sound quality will just about cause you to do so.

Features ****

Sony’s 2-disc set is locked and loaded with a grand arsenal of extras. Disc One includes “The Music of Stealth” featurette, a music video for the rockin’ Incubus song, “Make a Move”, and a trailer gallery.

Disc Two features an extensive and informative three part documentary titled “Harnessing Speed”, which is one of the best behind the scenes documentaries I’ve ever seen and covers a lot of production material, 2 Multi-Angle scene comparisons; The Explosion in Alaska and a Crash Landing sequence, and 2 scene deconstructions.

Summary:

Stealth satisfies the action fix and then some. Rob Cohen's latest effort is indeed his most superb work to date, blending in all the right elements to make a remarkable popcorn movie. In addition, this DVD release from Sony will blow you away with its landmark transfer and bonus extras. One of the best all around DVD releases of the year!

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com