Annapolis (2006) / Drama-Action
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language
Running Time: 108 min.
Cast: James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Donnie Wahlberg, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Roger Fan, Wilmer Calderon, McCaleb Burnett, Jim Parrack, Brian Goodman, Katie Hein, Chi McBride, Charles Napier
Director: Justin Lin
Screenplay: David Collard
With such a pedestrian script, Annapolis never stood a chance of being a good film, despite the quality performances and solid production values. Cobbled together from a hybrid of other military and boxing films -- most notably, An Officer and a Gentleman -- Justin Lin's follow-up to Better Luck Tomorrow lacks any feeling of freshness or unique style, which worked so well in his previous effort.
Boxing provides the obvious hard-knocks metaphor for Jake Huard's (Franco, Tristan + Isolde) challenge to prove himself as a naval cadet, while the love interest shows the courtship shows the allure of the glamorized side of the military's appeal. However, these metaphors will probably be lost on most of the audience, as David Collard's (Out of TIme) script is full of clichés, with some cringe-inducing dialogue and situations that might have you actually rolling your eyes at how heavy-handed they are presented.
The plot of the film is two-fold. Jake Huard is a shipbuilder and boxer that decides to pursue his deceased mother's dream of him going into the naval academy at Annapolis to prove his mettle as a soldier. He doesn't really have the qualifications, but because of his heart and determination, the brass there decide to give him a shot. It's not all fun and game there, as he seems to be well behind the other cadets in nearly everything, and he is seen as a disgrace by his commanding officer (Tyrese, Four Brothers). He gets into a bit of trouble at every turn, even beginning to doubt his use there in his own mind, although he finds his footing once again by the challenge of a boxing championship within the academy.
Annapolis has its efficient moments, but it is undone almost entirely by dipping into too many pies for inspiration, while also lacking any of its own. It lifts already time-worn formulas and mashes them together, regardless of whether or not they work in unison, trying desperately to be an inspirational tale of overcoming the odds through hard work and valor. As with most formulaic films, the predictability factor is quite high, and without any new twists, the emotional final scenes ring hollow when it should have been much more uplifting.
Annapolis is a comfortable enough time-waster, making for an acceptable viewing for those that typically rent four or five movies at a time, but it definitely isn't something you should go out of your way to see, regardless of the reason for your interest. It is a mediocre military film, a flawed boxing flick, and a joke in the romance department, so unless you really want to see a (once again) shirtless Tyrese and Franco go toe-to-toe with acts of macho bravado, you'll find this ship sinking before it has the chance to leave the port.
©2006 Vince Leo