Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 2005

Directed by: Rob Cohen

Written by: W.D. Richter

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very Low

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

Key Cast Members:

  • Lt. Ben Gannon: Josh Lucas
  • Lt. Kara Wade: Jessica Biel
  • Lt. Henry Purcell: Jamie Foxx
  • Capt. George Cummings: Sam Shepard
  • Dr. Keith Orbit: Richard Roxburgh
  • EDI (voice): Wentworth Miller
  • Rating: 3 out of 10

    Overview: We, who do reviews for Cyberpunk Review, sometimes feel the need to review such crappy media not only to let you know what is/is not cyberpunk, but what stuff is truly deserving of the label “crap.” Stealth is such a movie, as it attempts to be Top Gun, Firefox, and The Terminator in one overstuffed turkey. Jamie Foxx was better off behind a piano as music legend Ray Charles than he was in the cockpit of this doomed flight.

    So why bother doing a review of it anyway? If you’ve seen the plot synopsis of Stealth as I have, you might have been tempted to call this cyberpunk, too:


    The Story: The near future US military is engaged in a war against terrorism (still?), and they’re investigating any and all technologies to help strike the enemies heavily, quickly, and quietly. The result: The F/A-37 Talon, a multi-purpose aircraft that can out-shoot and out-fly any aircraft. Three pilots are selected out of four hundred applicants as they achieve perfect scores during a field test and are assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. There, the trio learn they will be joined by a fourth, an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) known as the Extreme Deep Infiltrator, EDI or “Eddie” as everyone calls it.


    EDI is not just a UCAV; The “pilot” of EDI is a quantum computer with a highly advanced AI on a neuronal network. This gives EDI the ability to learn quickly, as the rest of the Talon squadron are initially instructed to teach what they know to it. It’s EDI’s appearance that triggers a debate about the use of robots in wars: How humans can appreciate the perils and ugliness of war, while machines can exceed human performance without being subject to the emotional baggage.

    Negative impact of technology? Check. This ethical debate makes the first half of the movie a bit more interesting as we watch the EDI and Talons take on their first mission: The heads of three terrorist cells are meeting in Rangoon, and the squadron must take them out.

    EDI gathers intelligence about the terrorists from satellites and even retinal scans (Ubiquitous access to information. OK.), and comes up with a way to take them out without innocent casualties. EDI is ordered to make the kill, but Gannon belays that order and makes the shot himself. While the squadron returns to the Abraham Lincoln, EDI is struck by lightning and starts to take on some human characteristics: EDI starts learning at an exponential rate, develops ethics and an ego, and even downloads all the music files from the Internet. Man-Machine fusion? Sounds like it.

    Second mission: Terrorists have acquired nuclear warheads. The squadron must take them out, but the mission is aborted when it is discover the warheads cannot be destroyed without fallout causing civilian casualties. EDI attacks anyway, citing Gannon’s disobedience in the previous mission. The squadron is now ordered to escort EDI back to the Abraham Lincoln, take control of it, or shoot it out of the sky.

    From there, Stealth degenerates into another cookie-cutter action movie that crashes and burns, like Purcell does when he tries to chase EDI. The debris damages Wade’s jet and forces her to return to the carrier, only to eject over North Korea, and leaves Gannon to hunt down EDI.


    Nothing more to see. Well, maybe a little bit… If you’re looking for a focus on the underground, you’ll find nothing. Then again, you really can’t focus on the underground when doing Mach 5 above the Earth.

    On the other hand, there is some evidence of someone trying to control society, at least the Navy anyway. Throughout the movie the carrier’s captain is seen talking on the phone to a Congressman who seems to have a vested interest in the EDI program. Also, after Gannon crash-lands in Alaska, some black-ops types try to kill him, but escapes with the help of EDI’s creator, Keith Orbit.

    This is the problem in trying to call Stealth cyberpunk: The themes are there, just not enough to call it cyberpunk. And not enough to even call this dodo a “good movie.” Leave this bird on the runway, or stay within reach of the ejector button if you insist on watching.


    Attention, passengers. Due to terminal crappines, this flight has been canceled PERMANENTLY! Thank you for flying Cyberpunk Review Airlines.

    Don’t worry, folks. Last weekend, I came across a DVD that sounded like it was very much cyberpunk, and I have a couple of others to watch and review, with some other titles from the forums to check, so we’ll have some real cyberpunk movies for you to enjoy.

    This post has been filed under AI (no body), Android Movies, It's Not Cyberpunk! Mkay? by Mr. Roboto.



    My very first post on Cyberpunk Review’s meatspace was a ZDNet article about the MPAA hiring a hacker to steal data from TorrentSpy. Now that hacker, Robert Anderson, has given an exclusive interview to Wired giving his reason for joining the anti-sharing movie group, and what lead him to leave.


    All about the Benjamins. Anderson approached the MPAA to help their anti-piracy efforts after an online advertising venture with TorrentSpy founder Justin Bunnell didn’t pan out. For the MPAA, who reports that the movie industry loses billions due to piracy via file sharing, to have someone with inside knowledge of an “enemy organization” on their side would be an answer to their prayers, and the MPAA was going to do whatever they needed to do to keep him on their side:

    According to Anderson, the MPAA told him: “We would need somebody like you. We would give you a nice paying job, a house, a car, anything you needed…. if you save Hollywood for us you can become rich and powerful.”

    In 2005, the MPAA paid Anderson $15,000 for inside information about TorrentSpy — information at the heart of a copyright-infringement lawsuit brought by the MPAA against TorrentSpy of Los Angeles.

    Anderson was put in contact with Dean Garfield, then legal director now executive vice president and chief strategic officer, who believed Anderson had “an informant that can intercept any e-mail communication.” But Anderson himself was the “informant,” and how he intercepted the e-mails is what has both the MPAA and TorrentSpy at odds with each other.


    A sticky wicket. Anderson was able to intercept not only e-mails, but software and source codes, invoices, and even passwords. How did he do it?

    The hacker, then 23 and living in Vancouver, British Columbia, claims he had cracked TorrentSpy’s servers by simply guessing an administrative password. He knew the password was weak — a combination of a name and some numbers.

    “I just kept changing the numbers until it fit,” he says. “I guess you can call it luck. It took a little more than 30 tries.”

    Once inside, he programmed TorrentSpy’s mail system to relay e-mail to a newly created external account he could access.

    There’s a trace of pride in his voice as he details the hack. “The e-mails weren’t forwarded using the mail command. They were sent actually before it reached anyone’s mailbox,” he says. “So it was more like interception before delivery. I could even stop certain mail from reaching their box.”

    Anderson also received a contract to sign, with provisions like:

    … the information the MPAA was seeking would “include, but is not limited to, the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the owners of”

    The contract also requested information on The Pirate Bay, and called for Anderson to look for “evidence concerning and correspondence between these entities.”

    The contract prohibited both parties from disclosing “the existence of this agreement to anyone,” and said the MPAA would pay $15,000 for services to Anderson’s business, Vaga Ventures. Finally, the contract dictated that the confidential data would be obtained “through legal means.”

    The data being obtained “through legal means” was at the heart of a countersuit filed by Bunnell against the MPAA, claiming Anderson’s actions violated wiretapping laws.


    A falling out, and the fallout. At one point, Anderson knew the honeymoon was over:

    But once Anderson turned over the data and cashed the MPAA’s check, he quickly realized that Garfield had no further use for him. “He lost interest in me,” he says. Anderson felt abandoned: During negotiations with Garfield, the hacker had become convinced he was starting a long-term, lucrative relationship with the motion picture industry. “He was stringing me along personally.”

    Hollywood’s cold shoulder put Anderson’s allegiance back up for grabs, and about a year later he came clean with TorrentSpy’s Bunnell in an online chat. “‘I sold you out to the MPAA,’” Anderson says he told Bunnell. “I felt guilty (for) what happened and I kinda also thought at that point the MPAA wasn’t going to do anything.”

    After Anderson’s chat, Bunnell filed the countersuit. The suit is currently on hold pending an appeal, while the MPAA can use the stolen data in their ongoing persecutions. TorrentSpy was also ordered to track US users, but they countered by blocking them and increasing privacy for everyone else.


    The worse may be yet to come. Given the almost soap-operatic nature of this case so far, what else Anderson “intercepted” is something to give cause for alarm… if it weren’t for other enterprising hackers:

    Among the purloined files was the source code for TorrentSpy’s backend software, says Anderson. Anderson alleges this interested the MPAA, which he says wanted to set up a fake BitTorrent site of its own. According to Anderson, the MPAA said, “We’ll set up a fake Torrent site. We’ll contact the other Torrent sites. We’ll get their names, address books, contact information and banking information…. (They) wanted to run this as a shadow portion of the MPAA.”

    Can you say MediaDefender?

    Robert Anderson wanted to make money, but he had to sell his soul to a corporate gestapo to get that paycheck. In the process, he may have done something to help protect us from the virtual reality “they” (the MPAA) want to keep us asleep in…

    Anderson’s account shows that the content industry may be willing to go to significant — and some say ethically questionable — lengths in its war against online piracy, and that it is determined to keep its methods secret.

    This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Yesterday, a blog from Dark Horizons has word of a fourth Terminator movie in the works.

    Michael Fleming (Vairety):

    Warner Bros. has acquired North American distrib rights to “Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins,” triggering an early 2008 production start for a film that seeks to reinvent the cyborg saga with a storyline to be told over a three-pic span.

    WB plans to distribute “Terminator Salvation” in summer 2009.

    “The Phantom Menace” part deux? After the debacle that was T3, and the upcoming “Sarah Conner Chronicles” series, one has to wonder if the Terminator franchise as any high-powered ammo left. Also, seeking to “reinvent the cyborg saga” may turn away hardcore fans of T1 and T2 who not only want the action, but a solid and compelling story behind it. If we learned anything from Star Wars I - III it’s that effects don’t mean dick without a good story or intriguing characters… and it really won’t mean dick if we have to face a robotic Jar-Jar Binks who can only kill by annoying everyone!

    “As governor of California, I order you to make this better than ‘Attack of the Clones.’ Don’t make me legislate your ass!”

    As always, when T4 (and “The Sarah Conner Chronicles”) is released we will have a review of it. Hopefully, it will be worth watching to write a review.

    This post has been filed under Upcoming Movies by Mr. Roboto.

    October 7, 2007

    Minnesota mother becomes RIAA’s first victim.


    Jammie Thomas, found liable of “copyright infringement” by a federal jury. The RIAA must be proud of themselves.

    First blood is drawn. A federal jury sided with the RIAA and found single mother Jammie Thomas liable of “piracy” to the tune of $222K US (report from Wired). Mrs. Thomas could have been tagged with as much as $3.6M or as little as $18K, all for only 24 of the 1700 files she was reportedly sharing via Kazza (here’s the “playlist” if you’re curious).

    Jammie Thomas is one of some 20,000 individuals the RIAA has sued in the past few years for “piracy.” So far, most have settled out of court and some were dismissed outright, but Jammie decided to challenge the zealot organization and became the first to actually go to trial. The jury’s decision now gives the RIAA, and possibly the MPAA, “ammo” to persecute… I mean, pursue other individual file sharers:

    “This is what can happen if you don’t settle,” RIAA attorney Richard Gabriel told reporters outside the courthouse. “I think we have sent a message we are willing to go to trial.”

    On the positive side, the RIAA can’t equate file sharing to hacking. Or can they?…


    We’re the RIAA. We don’t need no stinkin’ evidence, bitch! U.S. District Judge Michael Davis presided over the case and was asked by jurors about the minimum amount Mrs. Thomas could be liable for a “willful” file sharing incident, since their instruction form left that information off. There were other signs that the case would go the RIAA’s way:

    In proving liability, the industry did not have to demonstrate that the defendant’s computer had a file-sharing program installed at the time that they inspected her hard drive. And the RIAA did not have to show that the defendant was at the keyboard when RIAA investigators accessed Thomas’ share folder.

    Also, the judge in the case ruled that jurors may find copyright infringement liability against somebody solely for sharing files on the internet. The RIAA did not have to prove that others downloaded the files.

    In other words, all the RIAA had to show was that the files being shared were on her computer when they traced and hacked into it. No user presence or knowledge that file sharing was going on with his/her system was needed to be proven.


    Another version of the truth. Jammie Thomas chose to challenge the RIAA in court because “I wasn’t going to pay for something I didn’t do.” She blames hackers for the piracy:

    “I want people to know that they are being sued based on hacked, spoofed computers. They should still fight back in these cases.”

    Given the current state of hacking technology, her claim may not be far off. After all, if the US government can hack systems to plant spyware, who knows what black-hats… or the RIAA… can plant on your system without your knowledge. For all we know, the RIAA themselves may have planted the music files on her computer just to make someone an example of their legal hijacking capabilities (Just a conspiracy theory… for now). Also consider that the RIAA’s movie-protection-racket clone the MPAA allegedly hired a hacker to go after their adversaries.

    Unfortunately, the jury didn’t buy it… maybe because they were bought by the RIAA (Another conspiracy theory). Also (race card alert), Mrs. Thomas is a single mother of two and a Native American woman who works as an administrator at a local tribe. Twist that around anyway you see fit.


    Payback is going to be a bitch. While some see the Minnesota ruling a victory for corporate music and the Record Industry Gestapo, the RIAA may have just painted a big bullseye on their backs. Last month’s leak of memos from anti-P2P allies MediaDefender may only be the tip of a huge iceberg that will sink the titanic industry group and its members, as the record labels and the RIAA itself will now be directly targeted for future hacks.

    Additionally, suing your potential customer base makes for bad public relations. That only fuels the anti-corporate boycott-fires that are already simmering in people who already see the RIAA as corporate law Neanderthals; Cavemen in suits with nothing better to do than hit people over the head with lawsuits. Does the RIAA realize how much taxpayer money is wasted on such trials, where it could have been better spent on schools and infrastructure? Not only that, this ruling will only cause more piracy, not less, as a show of contempt for the industry and group and the legal system they’ve corrupted.


    Speaking of payback, one question that the RIAA may never answer is: How much of that $222K US will the infringed artists get?

    Most likely answer: JACK SHIT. That money will only go right into the pockets of the industry execs and the shysters, for what they call “legal fees,” to fuel the anti-file-sharing lawsuit machinery. Take Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor’s answer to Australia’s Herald Sun when they asked why his group’s latest album, Year Zero, cost more than other albums:

    Herald Sun: Where does that extra $10 on your album go?

    Trent: That money’s not going into my pocket, I can promise you that. It’s just these guys who have f—ed themselves out of a job essentially, that now take it out on ripping off the public. I’ve got a battle where I’m trying to put out quality material that matters and I’ve got fans that feel it’s their right to steal it and I’ve got a company that’s so bureaucratic and clumsy and ignorant and behind the times they don’t know what to do, so they rip the people off.

    Given the music industry’s corporate fuck-everyone-over-to-make-a-profit mentality, and the RIAA’s cluelessnes during the Year Zero ARG campaign, there’s little wonder why Trent finally let loose against the industry during a tour stop in Australia:

    “Has the price come down? … Well you know what that means. Steal it. Steal away. Steal, steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealing. Because one way or another these mother fuckers will get it through their head that they’re ripping people off and that’s not right.”

    Don’t worry, Trent. The RIAA has just given us more than enough reason to steal.


    UPDATE (08-Oct-2007): Word from Wired now says Jammie Thomas will appeal the ruling on the grounds of faulty jury instructions:

    Specifically, it’s Jury Instruction No. 15, here in full: “The act of making copyrighted sound recordings available for electronic distribution on a peer-to-peer network, without license from the copyright owners, violates the copyright owners’ exclusive right of distribution, regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown.”

    In short, she’s appealing the concept that it was too easy for jurors to find that she infringed. Jurors were instructed to find liability if they found she had an open Kazaa share-file folder with music in it available to others, regardless of whether any downloading occurred.

    Normally in the US Justice system, the plaintiff (the RIAA in this case) must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant (Mrs. Thomas) committed the crime, usually through lab analyzes of physical evidence and eyewitness testimonies, or a confession from the defendant. Here, it seems only an intent is present… and even that seems questionable given RIAA tactics and history. The instruction sounds like the jury can only find Mrs. Thomas guilty.

    Example: Someone wants to kill president Bush (doesn’t everyone?). That person also owns a gun. Is that person automatically guilty of attempted murder of a president? That connection is just stupid; That person would actually need to take a shot at Duh’bya with the gun, and then the government would need to bring that person to trial and prove he/she did shoot.

    This sounds like it’s going to go all the way to the US Supreme Court, where the instruction… and the RIAA… will face the ultimate equalizer of justice: The Constitution. By the way things are shaping up, Mrs. Thomas should be vindicated. Then again, stranger things have happened before.

    This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

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