What's stealthy about this film is its ability to run under its potential
audience's radar. It has lightning swift air action, mind blowing nudity and
a sci-fi plane with a brain. So, why isn't it flying better at the
boxoffice? Why are so few scopes picking it up? Could it be lame characters
and a premise with paltry propulsion?
To test the theory, we tell you that Rob Cohen's theatre of action is a place
of third streamers passed off as top guns. Lt. Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas) is in
charge of the trio of naval pilots to whom the new artificial intelligence
chip-guided jet has been assigned to make his squadron a quartet, which he
isn't liking very much. His mates are Lt. Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx before
the award for "Ray") and the
beauteous Lt. Kara Wade (Jessica Biel) who fills out a flight suit like an
angel modeling military chic. This is superseded only by the moment that she
takes it off down to bikini for a little hands-off R&R at the ol' terrestrial
Ahem. Okay, back to the scenario. Whatever relationships exist among this
exclusive membership, they're kept at enough emotional distance to
avoid a mishap in formation. So, it comes as a surprise when last minute
bonding creeps in at the end, as though to rescue the operation with a
desperate last minute attempt to say, "hey, we're even throwing in a love
story." But, it's way too late for this hyperdriven dream of mechanical
and digital precision. Back to the plotwriting.
Our heroes answer to bossman, Captain George Cummings (Sam Shephard), a
curmudgeon in the making. This guy doesn't seem too pleased by anything
except the advanced new toy that's been given to him by his Pentagon
superiors for a rollout in the skies. It's a pilotless state-of-the-art jet
with the ability to learn from every encounter with man or machine and to
think, reason and react like a criminal mastermind. (Its programming got a
bit away from the genius that designed its chip). The craft is called EDI (as
in "Eddie") for Extremely Deep Interloper. Or, is that "Intelligence?"
In any event, it could care less that Gannon doesn't want him off his wing
and riducules his "leader's" efforts to keep him out of the formation's loop.
For Gannon, it's a difficult assignment, given as how EDI is such a superior
brat in need of behavior modification. It's sort of like Terminator 3 up
against the new generation T-X in "Terminator 3". And when EDI goes about doing what it
wants, giving Gannon heartburn and an empty fuel tank, Gannon develops an
even greater distaste for the renegade craft driven by the cheerless chip.
Complex flight choreography, sharp production design, military backup in the
score mostly by BT, and a soundtrack album that includes Incubus, David
Bowie, Sly and the Family Stone and others provide what lift there is in this
Why director Cohen and his creative minions thought a rebirth of HAL from
Stanley Kubrick's "2001" would have appeal in these skies at this time, is
anybody's guess. These computer personalities talk so much alike in smug,
genderless intonations, you'd think they were made for each other. But, I'll
give Cohen credit for intercutting the human melodrama in an attempt to
balance the machine driven madness. Trouble is, the personalities and their
issues are too weightlessly drawn to generate the heat of involvement. It's
something like printing a letter in draft mode. Which appears to be the
problem of this flight.
~~ Jules Brenner