When news hit the internet about a film adaptation of Baywatch being made, I’m sure many of people would’ve turned their noses up at the thought of it. But the announcement of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron leading the cast, at least for me made the news a little more intriguing. Being a big admirer of both actors and the comedic sensibilities they bring to their roles, I was actually interested in seeing this film. The trailers then came out and I wasn’t too impressed. Nonetheless I went into my early screening of the film anticipating some great laughs and a good time.
This film follows devoted lifeguard Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) as he butts heads with his new lifeguard recruit Matt (Zac Efron). As bodies start appearing on the beach, they take it upon themselves to uncover the criminal activity threatening the safety of the Bay.
The film started off with a great level of energy, which it carried all the way through the first act. The rate of laughs was consistent and the interaction and chemistry with the cast made it very enjoyable. Dwayne Johnson’s Mitch is in charge of the Bay, he’s very passionate about his role of looking after the beach and saving lives. Dwayne brings a natural sensibility to the role with ease. Within the opening ten minutes I could tell Mitch had been doing this for a long time and was very devoted to it. The most entertaining aspects of the film came from the scenes he shared with Zac Efron’s Matt. Their chemistry onscreen together was a highlight. Zac plays a former olympic gold medalist who has fallen from grace, after his public image was tarnished by the events of an Olympic relay race gone wrong. He’s cocky and filled with self importance. Out of all the characters in the film he has the most devlopment and recieves ownership of the main character arc in the story. Alexandra Daddario didn’t feature in the film as much as I thought she would, she was relegated to the side character role but was still good in her scenes. Jon Bass received a large amount of the audiences laughs, as Ronnie one of the new recruits on the beach who is far more awkward than the rest.
As the momentum of casts interaction and energy was building, the film began to stall at certain moments. Those moments being whenever Victoria (Priyanka Chopra) or her guards were on screen. Whenever there was a scene focusing on the main plot of the film, it disrupted the entire flow of the entertaining sequences that came before it. This is simply because the main storyline at play here, isn’t engaging and it’s completely uninteresting. It’s a generic by the numbers story that you are likely to have seen dozens of times before. I can’t say I expected anything more than that storywise in a Baywatch film adaptation, but that didn’t make it any more interesting for me to watch.
Seth Gordon directs the film competently, he handles a number of different action sequences well enough for it not to be distracting or dizzying. One thing I have to point out is the visual effects. Now I understand the budget for this film wouldn’t be large, but the visual effects on display here are poor and very noticeable. It doesn’t hurt the film that much because of the type of film it is, but it definitely distracted my attention during certain scenes, mainly one involving a yacht on fire. There’s two cameos in the film that are ruined by crediting the actors names in the opening credits, but both cameos felt forced and oddly placed.
One of the main problems this film has is at times it pokes fun at itself In very self aware manner. For example there’s a running (no pun intended) joke through out the film about people in running slow motion. Obviously it’s mocking a key element that the Baywatch TV series was famous for, but instead of knowingly maintaining that self awareness in an excellent way like 21 Jump Street did, the film begins to take itself far too seriously.
Because of this, by the time the film reached it’s third act I was just waiting for it to wrap itself up and end. The run time is too long but not only that, the rate of laughs decreased significantly. It just became dull in that final act, it’s as if all the films energy fizzled out by then.
Baywatch is moderately saved by it’s cast, they make it watchable. It’s not offensively bad or unbearable by any means, but it lacks enough consistency with it’s laughs to make sitting through it’s generic plot completely worthwhile.
(2 Stars out of 5)
Baywatch; Starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Jon Bass and Priyanka Chopra.
Opening in US Cinemas on May 25th and UK Cinemas on May 29th.