The three pilots, looking after each others behinds

America’s need to identify an enemy and then blow the shit out of them is most of the rational behind this loud, fast and furious film from director Rob Cohen.

Unfortunately, this is not Cohen’s best work. His first major work, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993) was a good balance of telling the story of the action film star, and providing the action that his fans would want. After a few other films he hit a popular vein with The Fast and the Furious (2001) and followed that up with the fun xXx (2002). Now working with writer W. D. Richter who directed the cult classic Buckaroo Banzai (1984) they delivered something that should have been better.

Jamie Foxx gets some acting advice from the computer

The opening scene runs like an advert for the US military, demonstrating how accurately they can obliterate all instances of their enemies, provided they know where they are and they are all lined up…well in the movies at least.

Then into the buddy picture comes the new enemy, technology in the form of EDI, a computer who can pilot a jet, (which looks like a giant cockroach).

Shortly after this the films fictional elements kick into high gear when one of the pilots aborts a bombing mission, because of fears of innocent people being killed.
The next mission is against…terrorists, and their targets, are a balance of two Middle Eastern looking gentleman and an Asian looking gent. Could these be the masterminds behind the Axis of Evil? And they are of course meeting in the Ministry of Defence of a small third world country.

Basically from there the movie lurches heavily into the plot of Dr Strangelove (without the jokes) with elements of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dark Star before becoming Stripes (without the jokes). It is only when it finds its feet, and becomes an airborne version of Knightrider that there is a bit of fun with the action.

This was partially filmed in New South Wales, so be on the look out for the Americans fine use of Australian actors in supporting parts, like Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing) and John Waters (Play School).

The film attempts to have it’s heart in the right place, attempting to deal with the implications of taking the human element out of warfare, along with a concept that must be novel to the US military, that any civilian casualties are unacceptable. Ultimately this movie is a celebration of blowing stuff up and the ability to do so, and anything else is dressing. Unlike xXx where there were simple goodies and baddies, this story attempts to deal with a bigger canvas while maintaining the low brow drive and it just doesn’t jell.

In the end the computer learns the lesson that has driven military men through the ages, never leave your mates’ behind.