Stealth (Rob Cohen). 121 minutes. Opens Friday (July 29). For venues and times, see Movies, page 97. Rating: N Rating: N
This throbbing toothache of a film makes you forget all the nice Americans you've ever known. Jamie Foxx (who must - please, God - have signed on to this before he made Ray), Jessica Biel and Josh Lucas star as a set of crack pilots in the U.S. Air Force - black, female and regular variety. Guess which one sacrifices himself for the team! Guess which one needs to be rescued! Guess which one saves the day, with the help of a talking artificially intelligent jet!
This is basically paid programming for the military. Even when a bad-apple colonel is driven mad by the power of technology, the soldiers remain spunky, resourceful and pure at heart. Lucas manages to take down a skyscraper full of terrorists without harming a single civilian. When the talking jet turns bad, Biel frets terribly about collateral damage. While indulging in a little government-sponsored Thai sex tourism between missions, Foxx strolls through a rice paddy philosophizing about the preciousness of life. Stealth rests on that uncomfortable fulcrum between monumentally dumb and too predictable to be funny.
And it reinforces stereotypes about American ignorance. Everyone in the film nods knowingly at the "axis of evil," but no one can pronounce "Tajikistan." Assuming anyone outside America goes to see this, it should do for U.S. international relations what a light misting of premium unleaded does for a birthday cake.