''Action movies are pretty dangerous and difficult to begin with, but this one,'' Stealth's Josh Lucas says, ''tried to kill me.'' The culprit? Not costars Jamie Foxx (who, despite an early trailer capitalizing on his post-Oscar popularity, has a supporting role) or Jessica Biel, but a $2 million, 100,000-ton flight simulator called the Gimbal, which spun, flipped, and smashed its human passengers with a force that felt like they were pulling up to five g's. ''I got really shook, got a pretty bad concussion over about three days. I was so hateful of that thing,'' seethes Lucas.
Of course, the chance to graduate to leading-man status in a $124 million, CG-heavy popcorn flick mitigated that scorn at least a little. Best known for such supporting roles as Reese Witherspoon's husband in 2002's Sweet Home Alabama, Lucas stars as the cocky leader of an elite trio of naval pilots confronted with EDI, a fourth wingman that, as director Rob Cohen (XXX) puts it, ''isn't a man at all,'' but rather a computerized jet. (Sam Shepard plays a naval captain who's gung ho about the new technology.) ''All is going well enough,'' Cohen explains, ''until the jet taps into computer databases, finds a bunch of hypothetical war games, and decides to execute them himself.'' Kinda like Top Gun meets 2001: A Space Odyssey? ''That's a very nice comparison,'' Cohen says. But, he adds, EDI would kick HAL's butt any day. ''HAL was stuck in that ship and could only manipulate that closed environment, whereas EDI has his own body, can move, and is fully weaponized. Don't mess with EDI.''