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STUDIO: Buena Vista
RUNNING TIME: 103 min.
“It’s An Officer and a Gentleman meets Rocky!”
James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Donnie Wahlberg, Charles Napier
Jake (Franco) is a determined young amateur boxer who, when given the longshot opportunity, leaves his dad’s shipbuilding company to attend the elite Annapolis Naval Academy, thereby fulfilling his late mom’s dream. Once there, stern Lt. Cole (Gibson) decides to bust Jake’s chops for no discernable reason other than he’s the main character, forcing him to withstand rigorous training and memorize naval trivia. Jake gets assigned to what is apparently the Melting Pot wing of the school, sharing his quarters with Ambitious Asian, Smelly Latino and Overweight Black Guy. And when he’s not trying to mack on a stunning officer (my future wife Brewster), Jake concentrates on boxing so he can clash with Cole in the ring at the film’s climactic tournament.
Despite not being billed on the cover, Jordana Brewster is also in this movie.
For a movie that is ostensibly about boxing, the matches aren’t overwhelmingly exciting (despite the sudden hypercutting that’s been previously missing from the running time), nor is any part of the film, a slurry of scenes from countless better “rebel vs. authority” movies like Lords of Discipline, Top Gun, Stripes, All the Right Moves and Police Academy 1-3. Cole is never clearly defined as the movie’s “villain”, just a demanding instructor who only wants to select the best officer material, so the final bout has all the weight of a meal at Chick-fil-A. In fact, there’s not much in
I feel it’s important to note that Jordana Brewster is in this movie.
With his impossible cheekbones and Abercrombie abs, Franco demonstrates admirable physicality and nominal charm (though I maintain that he’d make a perfect Jesse Custer should they ever actually make a movie based on the Preacher comic series), and Gibson has far more charisma than he’s allowed to display. As the officer who recruits Jake, Wahlberg (so effective in Band of Brothers) barely seems to acknowledge he’s even in a military movie. And staggeringly gorgeous though she may be, Brewster matches the material like a stripper in a minefield.
Director Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) has caught significant flak around these parts, mostly for being the guy attached to the remake of the brilliant Korean film Oldboy, and there’s certainly nothing in Annapolis to indicate an ability to properly handle such a responsibility.
Did I mention… ?
A perfectly functional transfer and Dolby 5.1 audio, but what are those jets doing on the cover? There isn’t a single aircraft in the entire film. And not every movie really needs an audio commentary, but you get one anyway with director Lin, writer Dave Collard and editor Fred Raskin, and at least they seem to be enjoying themselves more than the finished product would imply. There are also a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes, a generic “making of” deal and another focusing on the boxing sequences (that’s more engaging than the film’s fights), and a handful of deleted scenes you won’t miss. More bonus supplements than the movie demands, really.
5.0 out of 10