Annapolis Justin Lin

This film can’t decide what it wants to be — is it a military as character builder drama or an inspirational sports film? In any event it doesn’t matter because neither thread works well enough to make you care. James Franco plays a rebellious welder/boxer who gets accepted to the titular naval academy. There, of course, he encounters all manner of adversity, chiefly commanding officer Tyrese Gibson and his endless array of hard-ass behaviour. Will our hero make it without quitting and perhaps win the crucial newbie boxing tournament? Director Justin Lin has trace elements of style in his mise en scène but it doesn’t change the fact that the film has no idea what it wants to say. Sure, there’s the "discipline can change your life” element but it’s so obviously delivered that only the most misty-eyed naval recruit could ever possibly be sucked in. There’s, of course, some sexual tension with opposite C.O. Jordana Brewster, as well as some convivial atmosphere with Franco’s fellow recruits, but none of it sticks due to its familiarity from other films. When you think that you’re watching a recruitment commercial the movie shifts gears to boxing training film and at some point you give up the hope that an actual theme will emerge. The actors do what they can with the limited material but they’re not charismatic enough to get around the mediocrity of the whole enterprise. Basic training is most likely more fun. Extras include a decent commentary with director Justin Lin, writer Dave Collard and editor Fred Raskin, seven deleted scenes with optional director/writer/editor commentary, the usual backslapping "making of” and a similarly idolatrous featurette on the boxing sequences (and James Franco’s work ethic). (Touchstone/Buena Vista)