We all know what Baywatch was famous for back in the 90s; the ridiculously attractive lifeguards in skimpy swimsuits and boobs, for the lack of a better word. What brought these two symbols of sex together perfectly were the slow-mo running scenes, which shamelessly emphasized on the well sculpted figures of the cast to appeal to the general gender gaze. This Baywatch movie even becomes excessively self-aware of this slow-mo gimmick which is essentially what the entire franchise is famous for. The script proceeds to beat the gag like a dead horse and sure enough, this entire film feels like a slow-mo ride through the cinematic fires of boredom and cringe.
Highly-devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) and his elite team known as Baywatch, protect the Emerald Bay beach from anything which poses a threat to the patrons of the beach. A brash and cocky recruit, Matt Brody (Zac Efron) soon joins the team and Mitch must now work together with him to stop a criminal plot of drugs on their beach.
What made the television series so popular back in the day was the simple fact that sex sold like hot cakes, and it appealed tremendously to the deprived males who were trying to cater to their rising testosterone levels. Now, you have the internet for that and it isn’t such a sinister novelty anymore. Unlike the original show in the 90s which was really just PG-13 in today’s censorship lingo, this Baywatch movie raises the bar on obscenity to a not so surprising R-rated level. Littered with the use of unnecessary profanity and crude remarks, a barrage of jokes and supposedly humorous one-liners are rifled at us but hardly anything really lands with hysterical success. The only scene which was acceptably comical was the one in the morgue where part of the Baywatch team needed to check on corpses to have a foot forward in the drug case. So if your aim is to have a good laugh out of this film, you are better off watching the trailer multiple times and saving that money for another summer comedy.
Even the one and only self-proclaimed ‘franchise viagra’, known as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson can’t save this disaster of a movie. In Hollywood today, Johnson is one of the most charismatic personalities on screen, and it seems like the film enjoys to abuse the fact that he possesses such a unique ability to make everyone his best buddy. It is to a degree of annoyance when his character does so. He mingles around with people from all walks of life a little bit too much, including a dark-coloured police officer who teams up with him when race comes into play, only to lambaste him once again when it comes to speaking about catching criminals, neither of which are remotely funny nor entertaining. His unfunny sense of wit don’t help the cause as well. ‘Jokes’ are very much limited to calling Zac Efron’s character degrading names which suggest the lack of a real man in him. Some examples of which are ‘Bieber, One Direction, N-Sync and High School Musical. While other jokes in this movie suffer from poor comedic timing and sloppy editing, Johnson’s ones are just limited forms of uninventive jest that is overused and stale.
You know that feeling when you see a great film and afterwards you give some thought about the masterpiece you just witnessed? Somehow, everything just keeps getting better and better in your head. Well that’s the polar opposite for Baywatch. The more I think of it, the more I feel like it is two hours of my time I cannot get back. If you need to visualize this analogy, just think of me as Zac Efron in the Baywatch trailer. No I don’t mean it as being the personification of sex. I’m talking about that scene where he plunges down water into his mouth to cleanse it of the liquid fat from the corpse. Yes, I like to pretend that that is me just that I’m flushing ethanol into my brain.
On that note, Zac Efron’s character was easily the most intriguing character to watch. His pitiful backstory of Olympic Gold Medallist, to a dishonourable athlete had so much potential to lift the story to greater depths. His transformation from a member on the team who was highly critical of what they were doing outside of their job to someone who believed wholeheartedly in Baywatch’s dirty work, albeit very hastily executed was the most interesting story to see unfold and I wished they placed a slightly better focus on that.
Don’t even get me started on the CGI. The fire during the boat scene looked like something out of a typical directed-to-DVD Syfy production. I reckon one could get better standards of fire effects in a video game. It seems like most of the budget was spent on the talented cast. I don’t claim to be an expert in film, but for a project like Baywatch, it is only logical for it to be aiming for the marks of the Fast & Furious franchise or 21 Jump Street for it to be successful in the box office. Don’t get me wrong, I was all rooting for it to become that guilty pleasure summer blockbuster and it does show signs that it wants to be in that category of film, but overall it fails terribly to accomplish that.
Should you spend money on it? No
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Screenplay by: Mark Swift and Damian Shannon
Based on: Baywatch by Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonann
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Chopra, Jon Bass, Ilfenesh Hadera
Running time: 119 minutes