Those of you considering checking out Annapolis this weekend, think again. This movie is a mess from top to bottom and it isn’t because it isn’t an interesting premise it simply is a result of the fact that this movie can’t seem to figure out whether it is about the school Annapolis, if it is a boxing movie or if it is a coming of age story. I say this because there is no chance in hell that it is all three, as hard as it may try.
Annapolis is a 160-year-old Naval Academy of which only 1,200 new applicants are accepted each year, out of an approximate 50,000. It is regarded as a tough and relentless path where your resolve will certainly be tested. This film tries to get that point across, but besides an early scene where a freshman “plebe” is zipped up into a body bag, this makes Naval Academy look like the Girl Scouts, and I know that can’t be true.
The film centers on Jake Huard (James Franco) as the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, or in this case the boy on the other side of the harbor. Jake has grown up as a laborer for his father in the shipyard, building ships for the Navy. Jake’s dream, however, is to be on the other side of the harbor at the famed Annapolis, a school he sees everyday from work. Unfortunately, his grades are horrible and he has a troubled past, which doesn’t make him a prime candidate for the Academy. Nevertheless, Lt. Cmdr. Burton (Donnie Wahlberg) is here to save the day and give him a pass as a wait-lister.
Annapolis is a place where Jake wants to be, but once he gets there he begins to see it as a place where he doesn’t belong. On the verge of quitting he finds his calling, his past as an amateur boxer is rekindled thanks to the boxing competition known as the Brigade Championships, which conclude each year at the Academy. This is where the movie turns from hard ass Naval Academy to an after school special focused on training for the tourney. Lucky enough Jake has a friend on the inside, Ali played by Jordana Brewster. Ali is the eye candy of the feature, but on top of that she just happens to be what the press notes refer to as a “secretly skilled boxing trainer”.
You done laughing yet? Good, let’s continue.
The best way to describe this movie is to call it a Rocky prequel in which Rocky goes to the Navy and is determined to fight [and beat] a young Apollo Creed.
You’re still reading? Well, if you do go see this movie here is what you will learn:
You can sucker punch your superiors and all that will happen is you won’t be able to attend boxing class.
This movie was horrible from top to bottom. The screenplay never convinces the audience that Annapolis is a hard as nails school, it makes assumptions all over the place, it uses every cliche in the book and it is best suited for a Sunday afternoon matinee on ABC Family.
I can’t place any fault on any of the actors involved since I can only assume they were interested in the paycheck. James Franco is certainly trying to find his way as a leading man, but he is becoming the poster child for actors trying to grow up too soon. Franco has already won a Golden Globe and has had a fantastic young career, playing mediocre roles with his name on the topline isn’t going to further it. As for Jordana Brewster and Tyrese… Well, I don’t think either one of them will be getting roles any bigger than this so their parts in this mess seem about right.
If you haven’t caught on by now let me clue you in, don’t see this movie. Some will refer to this movie as a recruiting film for the Navy, I think the Navy will take exception to that. I highly doubt the Navy wants anyone thinking that this is how their top tier school is run. Reality and cohesive storytelling are tossed to the wind and if that is your thing then by all means waste your money. For the rest of you don’t you even dare set foot in the theater, Annapolis is sure to be on DVD in the near future.