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Mere popcorn entertainment

Stealth

Genre: Sci-fi action
Director: Rob Cohen
Cast: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx
Storyline: Three navy pilots have to team up with an unmanned talking warplane with a mind of its own. Bottomline: `Top Gun'meets-`Knight Rider' dumbed down.

It may have flopped in America, but it is not really that bad for a romantic afternoon. Wait a second, this isn't a romantic comedy. However, it does work if you're looking for mindless popcorn entertainment.

Considering that it's directed by Rob Cohen, who gave us the slick "xXx" and the stylish "Fast and the Furious," "Stealth" is not smart at all. But it does what "xXx" did to James Bond — it takes an old favourite, dumbs it down to appeal to a new generation and makes it contemporary with gizmos.

It takes a classic like "Top Gun," weaves a story of hate-turning-to-friendship between naval pilot Ben and the artificial intelligence-run EDI, a bratty, talking warplane that loves to listen to music that it downloads from the net.

So, "Stealth" has Josh Lucas as Ben, trying to take Tom Cruise's seat in the cock-pit, as he along with Henry (Jamie Foxx wasted) and Kara (Jessica Beil) are entrusted with the Navy's stealth operations fighting terrorism.

One day, Captain George Cummins (Sam Shepard) introduces a fourth wing-mate to the team of three: EDI, a warplane with the attitude of Herbie and a multitude of capabilities matched only by the Knight Rider.

When artificially intelligent EDI, programmed to evolve and learn from real-life situations, learns the wrong lessons, he is all set to trigger off a world war, by gearing up to destroy a military base in Siberia, after cracking into a simulated, hypothetical challenge loaded into his memory.

With a plot that makes even "Dus" look intelligent, "Stealth" gets cheesier by the minute.

Josh is a looker all right, but the role quite does not deliver him. Jessica wears a `I'm-not-used-to-naval-uniform' look and seems at home in the mandatory bikini scene. She is particularly funny when she gives a running commentary of her fall from the plane with the burning remains of her plane coming right at her.

W. D. Richter's screenplay tries very hard to sound cool, but the lines end up cheesy. The special effects are tacky and cinematography is a little amateur that in places you can actually see the grains that appear due to inadequate lighting.

What saves "Stealth," however, is the eccentricity of EDI who apparently is programmed to sound stern and evil when he is set to start a war, and shifts voice modulation to sentimental and sorry when he undergoes a change of `heart'. It's that cheese quotient that makes "Stealth" comic and entertaining.

SUDHISH KAMATH

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