Film Review: BAYWATCH (USA 2017)

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baywatch.jpgDevoted lifeguard Mitch Buchanan butts heads with a brash new recruit. Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.

Director: Seth Gordon

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra

 BAYWATCH is the latest edition of films based on a successful TV series that has very little to do with the series – like the JUMP STREET films. But it the marketing works. BAYWATCH is a modern re-working of a popular TV series of the same name. It cost $40 million to make and is estimated to gross $45 million the opening American long weekend.

BAYWATCH is an action-comedy film directed by Seth Gordon (HORRIBLE BOSSES) starring with Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron with a list of general unknowns Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Jon Bass, Ilfenesh Hadera, Priyanka Chopra and Indian actress Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as the villain. David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson are present with cameos and excellent ones, coming as neat surprises in the film.
The film concerns Mitch Buchannon (Johnson), the gung-ho leader of the elite Baywatch lifeguard squad. He believes he is making a different in the world, clashing with the local police as he outdoes his duties by trying to stop drug trafficking at the same time. Matt Brody (Efron), a washed-up pro athlete is brought in as the new face of the organization. However, when a dead body is recovered from the ocean, the two must put aside their personal differences and work with their team to stop a criminal mastermind’s drug trafficking operation. Mitch gets relieved of his post while Matt ends up saving the day with the help of Mitch’s crew. The film is at least smart enough not to make any preachy statement, but just let the comedy/action takes its course.

As an action comedy, the film devotes an equal amount effort to both comedy and to the action. The special effects especially the underwater segments (during he fire rescue) are impressive. It is rare when the action and comedy come together. The best and most hilarious segment occurs at the film’s start (which cannot be matched), when the logo BAYWATCH appears on the background accompanied by three synchronized choreographed dolphins after Dwayne Johnson saves some babes on his watch.

Dwayne Johnson has proven himself apt as an actor comfortable in both action and comedy. Zac Efron is however not that funny when portrayed as a victim. He is at his hilarious best (as in the film DIRTY GRANDPA or in NEIGHBOURS) when he is the instigator or the super drunk or drugged up super hunk. This best scene in BAYWATCH is when he punches out his supervisor and when his muscles are flexed doing the obstacle course. Jon Bass is given a lot of screen time doing the funny fat guy. All his antics – the co-ed shower, the beach CPR, the disco dancing are lame. Bass comes across as more annoying than funny. Audiences are not going to be happy paying good money to watch an amateur comedian fail on the screen.

BAYWATCH could have been better for all the effort put in, especially the fantastic special effects on display. Still, it is relatively entertaining, for those not expecting much from an evening at the movies.


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