2006-07-10 14:59


Born to a family of shipbuilders, Jake Huard (James Franco) refuses to accept a future on the Maryland shipyards. Instead his ambitions lie across the river at the exclusive naval academy of Annapolis. He gets himself accepted into the academy, but finds it much harder going than he anticipated. His situation is only made worse by his uncompromising company commander - Lieutenant Cole (Tyrese Gibson). Cole believes Jake doesn't deserve his place in the academy - and goes out of his way to prove it. But Jake has one last chance to show his worth - the yearly boxing contest known as the Brigade Championships. With the help of a sardonic female officer named Ali (Jordana Brewster), Jake sets out to win the title and prove himself worthy of Annapolis.


There's something deeply disturbing about a mentality that chooses to celebrate and idolise the apparatus of war at a time in our history when the legitimacy of armed conflict is at an all time low. The neat morality of World War 2 is long gone, replaced by murky and mutually destructive conflicts like Iraq. But Annapolis appears to be operating in a perfect vacuum - blowing self-congratulatory fanfares and parading around to hearty cries of dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

To make matters worse this self-important posturing is tacked onto a just-add-water plot. The combination of military drama and boxing tale might sound intriguing, but it Annapolis only combines and magnifies the worst traits of both genres. Underdog overcomes obstacles to win, blue collar boy makes good, brave recruit wins out against mean sergeant-major - pick the military or sport movie cliche and you'll find it here.

Sure, cliches can sometimes be fun, but to truly enjoy Annapolis you have to tacitly and unquestioningly swallow all of the tired macho bull it is selling: war is noble, violence solves problems and "warrior" equals "hero". In one way it can be seen as unintentionally enlightening. It shows that boxing and war are merely different degrees of the same idiotic self-destructive streak found in nearly every male dominated enterprise.

Aside from the ethical nausea, the movie is competently executed. Youthful director Justin Lin was recruited on his Sundance-wowing indie credentials, and he delivers a slick but generic finished product. Accustomed to micro-budgets, Lin has clearly enjoyed having an army of seasoned film artisans at his disposal, and his team has given the movie a glossy patina that any grade-A propaganda film would be proud of.

The performances, however, are less convincing. There's no doubting the commitment of James Franco and Tyrese Gibson, but both are hampered by their clumsy, workmanlike approach to the already weak material. Franco spends much of the movie frowning vaguely, as though concentrating on his algebra homework. He has great potential (as seen in TV's James Dean) but Franco is all thumbs here. Jordana Brewster on the other hand seems so smugly convinced of her own irresistibility that you begin to wonder why none of the other characters don't try to strangle her.

In the end though, the glossy good looks and showy violence of Annapolis will probably please many audiences. It's just sad that the little dignity left to the world's armed forces - that of ordinary men and women doing duty for their country even if they don't necessarily agree or understand - is ignored in favour of this sanitised exercise in patriotic masturbation.

- Alistair Fairweather

Annapolis tries to cram every brand of macho bull into one movie: a beefy dock worker at a naval academy takes up boxing to prove his worth. All we need now is a rodeo.

mylene 2006/03/22 1:12 PM
annapolis 10 out of 10 yes
nana ntsaluba 2006/04/04 4:27 PM
It Rocked my world i think that this movie is brilliant and everyone who says otherwise is a hater. Tyrese is so sexy. Annapolis
Jade van Zyl 2006/04/05 8:13 PM
Annapolis Yes, it is just a little too macho but my friends and I found it to be a very feel-good movie. It reminded me alot of "Coach Carter". Annapolis
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