BAYWATCH review by Ronnie Malik – Dwayne Johnson & Zac Efron reboot a TV favorite

BAYWATCH review by Ronnie Malik – Dwayne Johnson & Zac Efron reboot a TV favorite

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Director: Seth Gordon

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hannibal Buress

Rating: C+

Beach beauties, defined abs, sun and sand, death-defying rescues at sea, and a far-fetched criminal plot are all ingredients in the BAYWATCH film that is taking a new twist on a popular 1990s TV series with the same name. Loaded with plenty of skin, lewd jokes, and colorful language, the big screen version treads water as a motley crew of lifeguards take on the task of getting rid of a drug cartel.

Dedicated honest Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is a head life guard looking for new recruits to take part in a vigorous training program that will be the doorway into the prestigious role of lifeguard on the bay. Assisting him with the physically demanding training are his trusted teammates CJ (Kelly Rohrbach) and Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera). The new recruits include Summer (Alexandra Daddario), a bright blue-eyed eager to please wannabe; Ronnie (Jon Bass), a clumsy love struck unlikely hero; and Matt (Zac Efron), a handsome bad boy and world champion swimmer who marches to the beat of his own drum and is definitely not a team player.

In the midst of the training program, Mitch is faced with budget cuts from local politicians that don’t see the value in having his team keeping a watchful eye on everything affecting the gorgeous beach. While facing the challenges of proving that a lack of funding for a skilled lifeguard team will adversely affect beach safety, Mitch discovers an underground drug ring operating on the beachfront that is headed up by Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), an unscrupulous real estate developer. The bold leader of the lifeguards gathers up his troops and sets out on a mission to stop the female drug lord from taking control of his beloved seashore.

Dwayne Johnson, with his charming smile and immense presence, brings a style and swagger to this leading role as only he can. Zac Efron is the pretty boy giving Johnson’s character a tough time as the rogue agent that doesn’t follow instructions. The interaction between the two actors provides for some fun moments, but Efron doesn’t really deliver in his performance and the comical interaction between them is not quite strong enough to make a big impact in the film. Jon Bass, however, is hilarious in the film and does a pretty good job pulling off his goofy overweight character’s quirks and mishaps. Priyanka Chopra fairs well as the evil diva but is not given enough screen time which is very disappointing. The role of the villain is something Chopra could have expanded, and she easily could have created a memorable nasty character for audiences to relish. The rest of the female cast has nothing to do other than look pretty in a bathing suit.

BAYWATCH has plenty of crude jokes that don’t always work, but there are still enough good ones to make audiences laugh. The lifeguard rescue missions are extremely over the top and by most counts no one should be left alive after barely escaping the ocean’s jaw of death. The lifeguard mod squad figuring out how to outsmart a sophisticated drug cartel is pretty preposterous making most of the crime drama very laughable. Not sure if this tactic was deliberate or accidental by the filmmakers but somehow the silliness of the storyline is what makes this movie somewhat fun.

All the defined pecs, scantily-clad lean bodies, and wild misadventures are not enough to make anyone take this cheesy film seriously. Check your brain at the door before entering the theater so that expectations will stay low and disappointment won’t be high. BAYWATCH is a dumb and campy film that has just enough splashes in it to stay afloat saving it from completely drowning.

BAYWATCH opens May 25, 2017

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