Out this week in cinemas is another supposed Summer blockbuster, Baywatch. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron Baywatch follows the adventures of a group of unbelievably attractive lifeguards. This particular adventure has the team face off against a corrupt businesswoman with dangerous plans that are bringing drugs and danger to the beach.
As the film begins, we meet Mitch (Johnson) who is the perfect human being. He is loved by everyone, built like a demi-god and lords over the beach like a benevolent king protecting all his subjects from the dangers of rip tides and drowning all the while working in tandem with his two best Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) and CJ (Kelly Rohrbach). Tryouts for new recruits are being held, and that’s when we are introduced to Summer (Alexandra Daddario), Ronnie (Jon Bass) and Matt Brody (Efron) a disgraced Olympian. This motley group of misfits is what makes Baywatch work.
The majority of the cast give a credibility to the world they live in, the impressive part is that these are not just pretty faces, they’re well-rounded characters. A particular highlight is Kelly Rohrbach who plays this generation’s CJ (previously played by Pamela Anderson). She’s charming, has a sharp sense of humour and isn’t your stereotypical dumb blonde which she easily could have been. If there were any weaknesses to the cast, surprisingly it may be Efron and Johnson. They’re serviceable in their roles, but none of the electric charm from previous films is on show from Johnson or Efron. Mitch is just too perfect a character, and he comes across as annoying because there are no stakes in situations with him because he seems bulletproof. Brody, on the other hand, has a decent backstory with his disgrace from the Olympics giving him an emotional core that could have been genuinely engaging. Sadly there are only two small scenes that deal with his motivations and what makes him such an ass, the rest of the time he’s checking out Summer and drinking until he vomits and that is not interesting or original. It doesn’t help that there’s nothing particularly funny coming from them either, Baywatch is surprisingly light on genuine humour. I can count on one hand the number of times I laughed, and I was deeply disappointed by that. Most of the jokes were gross-out jokes involving bodily fluids, genitals and giving Brody an insulting nickname.
On the aesthetic side, Baywatch is a gorgeous film, the cast, the locations, the outfits everything is pleasing to the eyes. I dare you to find an unattractive person in the whole movie. A fun trait/trope that has returned to Baywatch is the slow motion running, and it is used to the fullest extent that slow motion running can be utilised. As well as the slow motion the action is also enjoyable. There are some great action set pieces that involve a few chase scenes, a rescue from a burning yacht and a ridiculous climax involving fireworks which means Baywatch’s finale doesn’t suffer from a lack of memorability.
I went into Baywatch hoping for a modern twist on the original series instead I believe audiences got an extended episode of the original series which is not a good thing. Thankfully with a decent cast and a fun story, Baywatch may not wash away with the tide.