It’s Official: Rob Cohen Decides to Do ”Stealth” Instead of ”XXX" Sequel

FilmJerk.com has learned that as Revolution Studios moves forward on the sequel to 2002’s “XXX,” it will do so without the director of the first installment, Rob Cohen. Cohen will instead be directing “Stealth,” a project he has been eyeing for some time and which will begin principal photography January 2004 in Australia.

Cohen reportedly had right of first refusal for “XXX2” and this means the directorial reins are likely go to Lee Tamahori, who has been in discussions to direct in the case that Cohen, as expected, ankled the Vin Diesel project.

“Stealth” centers on three fliers, members of a top-secret program that uses stealth planes to develop and revolutionize modern warfare. The trio find themselves poised on the brink of a brave new world when they are introduced to “Eddie,” a drone stealth plane that promises to radically change the shape of war. But when “Eddie” (short for Extreme Deep Invader) gets hit by a lightning bolt, his artificial intelligence is reconfigured into an alarmingly human form – egotism, foibles and all – and becomes a threat, almost igniting a world war. Humans against machine, Ben and Leslie locks horns with his brilliant and cunning rival in what the production notes call “a hair-raising contest of wits and wills.”

Sam Shepard (“Black Hawk Down”) has already signed on to the project, as Captain George Cummings, who leads the Strategic Directorate program project that created “Eddie” and which the three pilots belong to. Once “Eddie” goes haywire, Cummings conspires to murder Navy pilots to cover up his own massive and dangerous screw up.

Going along with this information, we have learned that “Stealth” has begun the casting process for a number of the lead characters. The following roles and descriptions have been given to actor and actress’ agents last week, which we have obtained from a source. They include:

  • Lt. Ben Gannon: At 29 years old, this Navy flier is an almost supernaturally gifted pilot, the top gun in the secret program. “He walks the line between arrogance and confidence so pure it makes everyone around him braver” is how the part is described. A smart kid from humble rural origins, Gannon advanced to the top of his profession through a combination of talent and sheer grit. Once “Eddie” goes haywire, it is up to him to stop the drone stealth plane.
  • Lt. Leslie Wade: A beautiful, fit young woman, she’s described as “keen, lean and strong.” Another top Navy flier, she was born into money. She has always been athletic, ambitious and driven — just like Gannon, for whom she has always felt an unresolved attraction. That attraction sparks into flame when the two go for R&R in Thailand, but they are careful to keep their relationship strictly professional when they are back in the cockpit. Teaming together with Gannon, the pair attempts to stop “Eddie.” When her plane is damaged, Wade is forced to bail out over North Korea. With armed North Korean soldiers tracking her through the mountains, she awaits rescue – or death. 
  • Lt. Henry Purcell: The third flier on the Strategic Directorate team, Purcell is 27 years old and the youngest pilot in the program. Gannon and Wade’s close and trusted ally, he is described as “cerebral and well-bred.” Purcell comes from a patrician Ivy League background, but his enthusiasm and offbeat humor make him a perfect counterbalance for the guts-and-glory Gannon. Purcell loves life, women and adventure, but he takes his work very seriously, and is an A-one pilot in every particular. When “Eddie” starts making trouble, Purcell flies in to subdue the mechanical renegade, but the encounter does not end well for this pilot.
  • Captain Dick Marshfield: The commander of the attack carrier USS New York, he’s a warrior of the old school who has little use for Cummings or his slick schemes. An old classmate and adversary of Cummings, Marshfield never wanted Cummings or his classified experiment on his ship in the first place. After warning Cummings not to interfere with his ship or its basic operations, and stops him from doing so several times, his jaundiced view of Cummings is richly justified.
  • Keith Orbit: A scruffy and offbeat “wild man” with a freewheeling manner, Orbit is the brilliant scientist who masterminded “Eddie” for Cummings’ program. When “Eddie” turns rogue, Orbit is called in for troubleshooting. Before long, he realizes that “Eddie” has gone beyond mere military applications, and is now astonishingly human in his reasoning and emotions. But it appears as if Orbit will be forced to destroy his brainchild— until Ben forcefully intervenes. This supporting character will also supply the voice of Eddie.
  • Josh Trent: The head of the tech team that maintains “Eddie,” Trent is bright, meticulous and hardworking. He is responsible for the daily care and feeding and maintenance of the cutting edge fighter-bomber. After “Eddie” is hit by lightning on a mission, Trent comments on the bizarre codes that “Eddie” has begun writing, independent of his programming.
  • Lt. Bill Shaftsbury: This ramrod military man acts like a “master of the universe.” A top officer in the Strategic Directorate program, Shaftsbury calls out information from the central computer, or Primo, as it is called. Cummings’ right hand man in the Directorate’s control room, Shaftsbury monitors the situation when “Eddie” goes haywire.
  • Commander Clint “Hud” Huddle: This rugged African American Navy flier is controlled and professional, one of the best pilots in the service. Huddle and Gannon have a rivalry that goes way back. He irks Gannon when he comments on the fact that his high-tech aircraft does most of the flying for him.

    Cohen has also made revisions to the original “Stealth” script by W.D. Richter. Besides “XXX,” his past directorial efforts include “The Fast and the Furious” and “The Skulls.”

    Sounds like a mix of “War Games,” “Behind Enemy Lines” and “Knight Rider” to us—and we’re not sure if this is a good thing.

    The Scorecard
    Producers: Laura Ziskin, Mike Medavoy and Arnie Messer
    Director: Rob Cohen
    Writer: W.D. Richter, with revisions by Rob Cohen
    Casting Directors: Sarah Finn and Randi Hiller
    Start Date: January 2004
    Location: Australia
    Distributor: Columbia Pictures

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