Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra, Kelly Rohrbach, Jon Bass, Ilfenesh Hadera
Devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchanan butts heads with a brash new recruit. Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay. (Source: IMDb)
Having never watched the bafflingly popular TV series because I was neither (a) a teenage boy, and (b) I had some taste, I had very little comparison points for this review. All I knew was it was camp, cheesy, and had a lot of slow-mo running in it.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I was actually really looking forward to this film. The trailer had all the promise of the same tongue in cheek humour of the other TV show-cum-Movie 21 Jump Street, and the over the top action of the Fast & Furious movies. The shot of Dwayne Johnson leaping over the flames was absolutely enough to whet my appetite, being an unashamed fan of The Rock, ever since his wrestling days and now into his successful movie career.
I was expecting massive overblown action scenes, over the top acting and a self-deprecating approach and was left incredibly disappointed, but we’ll get to that.
There are a handful of entertaining scenes and characters worth mentioning however. The show-off showdown between Dwayne Johnson’s Mitch and Zac Efron’s Brody was brimming with brawn and chauvinist showmanship and I loved it, and for the large part, they had great comedic chemistry and really fed well off each other’s energy. Mitch’s tendency to call Brody everything under the sun apart from his name always drew a chuckle, particularly when he referenced the franchise where Efron made his name. Priyanka Chopra delivered a wonderfully hammy and over the top performance as the villain and it is a shame she couldn’t give this performance in a better film as she really nailed it. She’d actually make a pretty great Bond villain, so I hope she is given the chance to show off her skills elsewhere.
Baywatch is bad. Like really, really bad! I don’t know if anyone was expecting it to be good, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be this lackluster and just plain average.
It felt weirdly restrained in places, and I was crying out for it to be more outrageous, more hilarious, more over-the-top and more action packed. The hilariously brazen way in which the title of the film emerged from the water was probably the most exciting and funny thing that happened in the entire film, and that’s not good really!
At times the story plodded along at a glacial pace, and it really had no business being near enough 2 hours long. A punchy 90 minutes with more focus on ridiculous set-pieces would’ve made for a much more entertaining watch.
In Johnson and Efron you have two very charismatic and highly watchable leads, who worked really well together and had great screen chemistry. However this was absolutely wasted with the usual over-reliance on bro humour and knob gags. A few of these might be funny, but the humour was so crushingly one-note that it was a joke that wore thin very, very quickly.
The cameos from some of the original Baywatch cast members were quite frankly embarrassing and definitely something the film could’ve done without. If this film was attempting to reinvigorate Baywatch for a new blockbuster audience, then it has absolutely failed in this, failing both to capture the cheesy camp of the original and tapping into the exaggerated action movie formula that undoubtedly sells. Going in expecting Fast & Furious on jet-skis, I was left with what can only be described as a car crash. And not even the good kind.
I saw this movie so you don’t have to. Baywatch is an absolute dud, and what could’ve been the start of another silly and fun action movie franchise, is really a damp squib of a film which will hopefully find its way to the cinema scrap-pile. Maybe some things should just be left alone, and sadly not even Dwayne Johnson is enough to save this one. Avoid!