The whole creedo of is that there can be films that are fun and exciting, but don’t stand up to critical evaluation. Both Stuart and I grew up watching lots of rubbish, and enjoying much of it, and have developed an appreciation of the lesser art of filmmaking – making something stupid and ridiculous a blast. With this in mind, I went to see Stealth in spite of its truly horrible trailer, hoping it might be a surprise, especially as Rob Cohen’s previous feature xXx fulfilled the above criteria quite nicely. The only surprise in the end was how appalling it really was.

StealthWe track the lives of three US Navy test-pilots, seeing their training battles, their sexual conquests (with obvious references to Top Gun, a film that was jingoistic rubbish but was enjoyable, and has the benefit of years of enjoyment allowing it to assume a pseudo-classic status it probably doesn’t deserve), and their interactions with the future of air combat, the ludicrously titled unmanned aerial vehicle EDI – ‘Extreme Deep Invader’. Can we really believe a bunch of top-line plane developers would call it that? The first absurdity in a long line of them, this ridiculous acronym and the requisite follow-up joke serve only to sum this film up in one foul stench.

When lightning strikes EDI, his AI goes haywire, and he ends up a danger to everyone around him. You see, EDI has no moral judgement – something we can see the pilots have during the aforementioned sexual conquest scenes. The remainder of the film is spent with our heroes – a loosely used term if ever there was one – trying to bring him back under control. The fact that much of what follows is even more idiotic than the ridiculous devices used in setting up the plot is an indictment on all involved.

Stealth has the dubious honour of not only being the most unwatchable film I’ve seen in 2005 for its onscreen content, but actually being the most unwatchable full-stop. There are entire sequences in which the only vision is blurred pans and bizarre edits, such that minutes go by in several dogfight scenes that contain almost no clearly discernable footage. The problem is that when the camera does slow down long enough for us to see what’s going on, it becomes clear this technique was used to hide from the audience the fact that the CGI for EDI is awful. Covering up one deficiency by creating another smacks of incompetence, or worse, arrogance.

Featuring truly awful dialogue, some ridiculous subplots, shocking editing and a premise not worthy of feature film status in the first place, Stealth has nothing to recommend it. Avoid it at all costs.

Rating: 0.5 stars
Review by Mark Lavercombe, 12th September 2005
Hoopla Factor: 0.0 stars

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