Reviewed by: Bob Rossiter
|Featuring||James Franco, Jordana Brewster, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Donnie Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson|
|Producer||Steven Nicolaides, Mark Vahradian, Gym Hinderer|
“50,000 apply. 1,200 are accepted. Only the best survive.”
From the moment I first saw the trailers to “Annapolis” I wanted to see it. I guess it was the “hoorah for our American servicemen” portrayal that captured my interest. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. Several scenes weren’t entirely accurate, but we need to remember that this film is a work of fiction, not a documentary.
Jake Huard (James Franco) had always dreamed of attending Annapolis and becoming a naval officer. His now deceased mother was the only one who ever believed he could do it. It was a promise made to her that inspired him to start training at Annapolis, but in order to finish, he had to learn how to believe in himself.
Jake had a couple personality flaws he had to work through. He began as a “lone ranger” type who didn’t help others and wouldn’t accept their assistance. This would result in his entire team being punished or losing reward. At one point, one of his mistakes leads to all the team members being ordered to give their dinners to Jake. Oddly enough, however, another weakness in Jake is that he gets his sense of worth and accomplishment from those around him. It’s hard to call him a quitter in this movie, but there are times when the only reason he “gets up and tries again” is because of others.
In the opening boxing match, Jake is knocked down, and it appears he wants to stay down for the count. He sees a friend, though, that stands to lose a lot of money, so he gets up and wins the bout. After entering Annapolis, he faces some hardships and decides not to return after the Christmas break. It is the encouragement of others that gets him back. The encouragement he receives is great, but leaders can’t rely on getting their sense of worth from other people.
Jake’s friends throw him a going away party, the night before his induction. They show him a woman sitting by herself in the corner, and tell him she’s an escort they hired for the evening. When he and Ali (Jordana Brewster) introduce themselves, he finds out the escort story was just a joke. A short time later, Jake finds out Ali is one of his instructors at Annapolis. There are a few other sexual comments, women at the bar in short skirts, one man seen in his underwear from behind, and a couple kisses between Ali and Jake, but this is the extent of the sexual content.
There is a constant animosity between Jake and Lieutenant Cole (Tyrese Gibson). Cole is extra hard on Jake. The trailer says Cole is being so difficult because he believes he can make an officer out of Jake, but the movie itself suggests that if Cole can make Jake quit, he wasn’t worthy of being an officer. The conclusion to this antagonism results in a boxing match between the two at the end of the movie.
There are several boxing scenes that some will not enjoy. For the most part they aren’t very graphic, though there are a few hard blows and a couple of times some blood is shown. Jake also punches out a senior officer—once in the back of the head in the ring and once when not boxing. In addition to the violence, there are also about 30 obscenities and 5 misuses of God’s name.
The acting quality wasn’t the best, but was still very good. There were some parts that weren’t consistent with reality. For instance, a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship like that between Jake and Ali wouldn’t be allowed between an Annapolis student and his teacher.
The best parts of the movie for me, however, were the indirect lessons on what it takes to be a good father. Several scenes showed what kind of impact we have (positive and negative) when we encourage our sons or ignore them. In one instance, it drove a character to attempt suicide. In another, Jake’s dad lets his son know how important he is to him by attending his final boxing match.
Those who enjoy patriotic, hero stories will probably appreciate this movie. I sure did.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate