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Stealth Reviews

"To be honest, I don't think war should be some kind of video game," says a philosophical flyboy on a brief break between video-game style dogfights and explosions. The spectacle of a mega-million-dollar, feature-length promo for an electronic war game hoist by its own dialogue would be gratifying if it weren't so disheartening. A high-tech mash-up of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) and TOP GUN (1986), this riot of futuristic gewgaws and high-decibel distractions barely pretends to be a movie, assuming you define "movie" as an entertainment characterized by the presence of characters, dialogue and a story. Sometime in the near future: The Navy has developed an experimental jet as part of a larger plan to combat global terrorism. Only three of the Talon-series stealth planes exist, piloted by the Navy's very own "one black, one white, one (bottle-) blonde" mod squad: happy-go-lucky womanizer Henry (Jamie Foxx), cocksure rebel Ben (Josh Lucas) and Kara (Jessica Biel), the girl. The close-knit team doesn't take it well when their commanding officer, Capt. George Cummings (Sam Shepard), announces that he's adding a fourth musketeer. They're even less enthusiastic when they meet the new guy, an unmanned combat plane named Eddie or, more correctly, EDI, which stands for "Extreme Deep Invader" (insert your own smutty joke here; it can't be worse than Henry's). EDI comes complete with the ability to enhance and update its own programming and a honeyed voice that conjures worrying memories of 2001's supercomputer HAL 9000, and is "the future of war." Hello, perfect technology; goodbye, pilot error! Cummings, whose very crew cut stands at permanent attention, has pulled political strings from here to eternity to get funding for his robojet and is according his squad the honor of showing EDI the ropes. But between Ben's hot-dogging example and a circuit-scrambling lightning strike, EDI gets his big brain stuck in "destroy all evildoers" mode, leaving Ben, Kara and Henry to cobble together an emergency damage-control plan — no mean feat when drifting nuclear fallout, dead Tajikstani civilians and Russian airspace are involved. Plus there's a comrade to fall in the line of duty — anyone who doesn't know which one has the "Lieutenant Expendable" stamp hasn't yet noticed the pattern mercilessly lampooned by SCARY MOVIE (2000) — and a romance to be developed, in the most cursory sense of that word. Even by the degraded standards of dim-witted summer blockbusters, this is sorry stuff.