NOTE: This Spoiler was sent in by Spiritflare who says... "This movie is a visual feast that's so cliched it's hard not to wince; but if you're after a loud soundtrack (after all, EDI in the movie plays MP3s he downloaded from the internet), tons of explosions and a plot that's unabashedly lame at best, then you're in for a treat."
The movie opens up with a dolly shot moving away in the clouds, shortly thereafter we see three jet fighters roll into the scene, each looking like a star-trek bird of prey/stealth fighter hybrid. The radio chatter starts and things kick up a notch when the pilots demo they have the "right stuff" with an assortment of Top Gun moves while they snake through canyons at high speed avoiding SAMs and hit the deck for some strafing runs and lob a few air to ground bombs, meanwhile avoiding everything thrown at them. Right at the onset here we see the cinematography is intense and the visuals mean business.
The three pilots (Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel and Josh Lucas) land their aircraft and go and meet their CO. After a scene remnant from Top Gun, their CO praises their hot-shot skills and tells them they've got their first assignment on a carrier tommorrow morning where they'll be joined by a "4th" wingman. Here we get to see how Foxx is the clown of the group as he cracks jokes about how well the three of them have survived so far, how 3 is such a lucky number "trinity", etc.
That night, after hitting the bar and a few sexist innuendoes here and there about bleached hair and visiting the bathroom (i'll let you catch those lines), the pilots retire after partying it up.
The next morning we're on the deck of the real-life USS Abraham Lincoln (I guess the US Navy must really love doing these movies as a recruiting tool) and we see Foxx, Biel & Lucas smoothly (of course) land their jets in sequence. After being debriefed about the mysterious 4th wingman, we see everyone watching the deck as EDI short for "Extreme Deep Invader" which is an UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) lands. EDI pulls off this Harrier jump-jet landing, you know the helicopter vertical landing, further reinforcing that EDI has his own "moves". After the CO tells the trio that EDI isn't a male or female, but a computer, we start to see how a mix between apprehension and curiosity falls upon them, but before they're allowed to "play" with EDI, they have to do their "homework".
Everyone returns to their bunks which look more like a bedroom you'd have back home with posters on the walls and laundry lines (in the case of Biel showcasing her lingerie), hardly the starkness of a typical real-life Navy hotbunk. The characters take "study-breaks" with each other, which is really an opportunity to show a budding sex interest between Biel and Lucas.
The next day they all meet EDI - EDI has a brain that detaches from the cockpit and kinda looks like a cross between a soccer ball and the Death Star from Star Wars, and the grad-student-looking-techie who is there for tech support plugs him into a laptop and starts talking about how amazing EDI is and how his neuro-aritifical-intelligence "brain" can do anything. Hmmm. After a little of headbutting between the EDI program coordinator- Capt. George Cummings (Sam Shepard), a shifty CIA-dude from the military "skunworks" eager to test his new toy, and Captain Dick Marshfield (Joe Morton) who isn't eager to have him there, the trio receive orders to go rip it up with their new wingman.
The three catapault from the deck of the Abraham, but EDI hasn't joined formation. As they're trying to locate it, EDI pulls off an inverted roll above their aircraft and falls into position off Lucas's wingtip. At this point the confidence is the group is starting to wane at EDI's killer moves, but it's time for action when the group receives an order from Capt. Cummings tell them their test-flight has been interrupted and they have new orders - go to downtown Mynamar in North Korea and drop a "building-buster" bomb on some "terrorists".
It's pretty hard not to spot the medley of cliches in this movie - everything from jingoism to sexuality - they're so frequent, and so apparent. When they reach the target, Lt. Wade (Biel) does some calculations and suggest the collateral damage would be excessive and many civilian deaths would be the result - unless one of the pilots can do a gnarly G-ripping manuever and drop the bomb right on top of the building. Cummings back on the ship does some calculations and figures the G-Load would be too much for a human (really, he just wants to test EDI) and orders the 3 human pilots to "stand down" and let EDI drop the bomb because he can pull a higher G-Load. Lt. Gannon (Lucas) will have none of it, and says he's going to try it himself. He disobeys the order and goes vertical, then basically shoots straight down until he's almost over the building (the intent to increase the velocity of his bomb) and lets it rip. He scores a instant, lethal hit, and like a videogame, his flight computer echoes "Score 100 out of 100". Nice job for a human.
After they all return to the carrier and manage to land on the deck in the middle of storm, EDI gets zapped by lightning - Uh oh. We all know where this is going, but after a somewhat uncoordinated landing, EDI makes it. Inside the ship, we get another Top Gun scene, when he confronts Cummings. All that's missing here is the "your ego is writing cheques your body can't cash" line. Since they did such an excellent job, even though EDI didn't get to show his stuff, the Captain dismisses the crew and tells them they get a break in Thailand. Lucas goes "So soon? we just got here." Cummings wants them off so he can iron out any bugs in EDI to get him ready to do some serious damage, but he doesn't want them around.
Their leave in Thailand is actually more time to showcase the mack-daddy skills of Lt.Purcell (Jamie Foxx) with Thai women, and to develop the love interests of Lucas and Biel. It's also an opportunity to get to see Biel in a bikini, maybe worth the price of admission for some.
When they get back to the ship, they're tasked with another mission- there are some terrorists who are expecting a shipment of nukes in Tajikistan, and 3+EDI are supposed to go "take em out". They all shoot off the carrier and when they're in the air, EDI starts behaving weird, refusing to follow proper orders from the flight leader (Lucas). As they approach their target in the mountains of some "Axis of Evil" nation, Biel again does her casuality assessment and predicts the casualities from dropping their Fuel Air Explosives on the nukes would be too high because the radioactive fallout would engulf a village of farmers. "They're only farmers" says Biel. (awwww..) The three reach a concensus to abort, but not EDI..it says "i must complete the mission" in a HAL9000 voice and Lucas is yelling at him not to disobey orders, but EDI rolls right in and lets his FAE bomb rip, hosing the terrorists while the camera pans in on the "innocent" villagers engulfed in a cloud of radioactive waste.
When they return to the ship, Lucas confronts Cummings and tells him that EDI is out of control and that he doesn't want to fly with him anymore, to which Cummings threatens him and tells him if he doesn't fly with EDI, "you'll be flying something with a propeller".
In the meantime, Lucas secretly visits EDI's tech-support-dude, who has put EDI into diagnostics and seeing weird patterns. Lucas asks what is happening, to which the techie explains EDI is basically "evolving" where he shouldn't be, and when Lucas asks him to rate his confidence in EDI, the technician is ominously silent.
After all this hoopla, on their next "sortie" with EDI, the aircraft disappears from the formation after disobeying orders from Lucas, and nobody can get EDI back. He's evolved and becomes smart enough to "firewall" his computer from mission control so not even Cummings can control him. Not only this, but he's also downloaded the latest selection of MP3 files from the Internet, and plays a different song each time he goes after a target
After Cummings makes some calls to some politician who is funding his secret program in Washington, and threatens to bring him down if he doesn't "fix" the plane, we find out EDI is on a secret mission to drop a nuclear bomb on some Russian base. It's here where it gets slightly lame: "we can't tell EDI what to learn or not to learn", so the decision now is to send Purcell (Foxx) to chase EDI down and destroy him before he reaches Russian airspace.
Unfortunately EDI isn't going to make it easy. After a failed attempt at Foxx trying to reason with it during an elaborated chase sequence between the two aircraft, EDI tells Foxx that he has virtually no chance at destroying it, says "GOODBYE" in the HAL9000 voice and pulls a turn which causes Foxx to crash into a mountain. I guess they're really a trio now, 4-1 ooops. After a few tears remnant of the scene in Top Gun where Goose dies (I wonder how many times the director watched Top Gun), Biel and Lucas turn to head home when Biel's aircraft is hit by some debris from the crash of Foxx. Unfortunately her aircraft can't sustain itself, and she turns back home telling Lucas "Good Hunting". He can't bring himself to tell her he loves her (he just has a bad way with words we're led to believe) and now he's the only one in pursuit of EDI.
Mission Control tries to help by calling Orbit (the creator of EDI) who can't really do anything saying EDI has evolved too much.. so they try to shut off all refueling options for EDI so they can force it out of fuel, but EDI's too smart - after it can't get authorized access to the refuelling blimp, it just shoots the cap off and fills up anyways.
As Biel starts heading home, her aircraft has more problems until it's virtually useless and she has no choice but to bail out. Sure enough, it's over North Korea (another Axis-of-Evil country), where we're explicitly told as mission control asks Cummings to dispatch a Search & Rescue Team for her and he says he can't because: "We don't have diplomatic relations with those folks". When she hits the ground in a rain of fiery debris from her aircraft which has self-destruct, she is slightly injured and runs for cover behind some rocks, where unfortunately a little girl from the nearby village spots her and screams. Soon enough, the entire North Korean army is on the hunt for her, and she spends her time evading them while getting shot by a sniper and trying to make her way to the DMZ and eventually South Korea (aka the Friendlies).
In the next sequence we see Lucas reach the refueling blimp (where EDI was earlier filling up), and he starts to fill up as well. In the meantime,all that leaking fuel has caused a ring of fuel (bad physics here) and sure enough EDI fires into it trying to kill Lucas, in a massive ring of fire. Gosh, the Lumiere Brothers would have been proud.
It doesn't work, Lucas survives, and soon after, both EDI and him end up in Russian airspace and a dogfight ensues between the Russian fighter jets who have been sent up to intercept them. This is a pretty cool action sequence, and EDI collaborates with Lucas, only because it will allow it to meet its objective of reaching the Russian base in one piece. As EDI tells Lucas in that HAL9000 voice: "the odds of surviving fighting alone are 2%".
After they destroy the Russian aircraft, Lucas warns EDI that he can't allow him to proceed, and that he'll shoot it down. EDI doesn't care as usual, but this time there's a problem - EDI has a bit of shrapnel hit his wing, causing a fuel leak. After reasoning with EDI and convincing him that the fuel leak will cause him to be destroyed, EDI agrees to abandon the mission to nuke the Russian base. Lucas then radios back to mission control to ask about Wade, and Cummings lies to him and tells him she's on approach back to the carrier. But now EDI is helping Lucas, and he scans the database on the USS Abraham and finds out there is no record of her jet landing..so both EDI and Lucas realize Cummings is lying.
Lucas decides to go to rescue Lt.Wade (Biel) in North Korea, and EDI agrees to be his wingman. Since they're both out of fuel, they receive orders from Cummings at mission control they can land at a secret base in Alaska to fill up, that's "not on the map". EDI & Lucas make it there, however Lucas's fighter is totalled in the crash landing, but he's alive and welcomed on the base.
In the meantime, Cummings has sent orders to this secret base to have Lucas killed because he'll be a witness that Cummings allowed a defective aircraft (EDI) go into battle which resulted in the deaths of innocents (remember the nuclear cloud and the farmers earlier) and the death of a pilot (Purcell), all of which Cummings is trying to cover up. He also orders that EDIs "brain" be erased so it leaves no tracks of what has happened. That's the whole reason he ordered EDI & Lucas to land at this secret base.
A doctor is sent in to look at Lucas, and tries to give him a sedative against his will. The outcome here is the doctor gets stabbed instead, and Lucas breaks out and finds himself in hangar where a firefight ensues between him the CIA operatives and he prevents EDI's brain from being erased, courtesy Dr. Orbit (EDI's creator).
In the meantime, Capt.Dick Marshfield (Joe Morton) of the USS Abraham goes to arrest Cummings- Lt. Gannon (Lucas) has gotten on the radio and briefed him,but before he can do this, Cummings shoots himself.
Lucas gets into EDI (remember his aircraft was totalled in the crash landing) and EDI takes him into North Korea, where on the ground, Biel has been battling the North Korean agents, has been shot in the arm, and has finally made it to the DMZ between the North & South. Just as she's getting pummelled with heavy machine gun fire by the North Korean's, Lucas lands in EDI, and rushes out to rescue her. They both try to get to the South side of the DMZ but are being chased by a North Korean helicopter - when it finally looks like they're gonna be strafed before they reach freedom, right on cue, EDI takes off and rams himself into the North Korean helicopter, but just before he does it he says "GOODBYE". Yes, the machine gave it's life for the humans.
At the end of this Biel & Lucas reunite. Cut to the deck of the USS Abraham and a service for Purcell (Foxx). After the service, Biel and Lucas have their own private time, and again he's at a loss for words and comes up with some lame line. She answers: "Why don't you just tell me you love me, you p****!".
Fade to Black.
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