When their new next-door neighbors turn out to be a sorority even more debaucherous than the fraternity previously living there, Mac and Kelly team with their former enemy, Teddy, to bring the girls down.
In sun-kissed Emerald Bay, the vigorous Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon and Baywatch, his elite team of hand-picked and perfectly tanned lifeguards, protect the bay, keeping both sunbathers and beach lovers safe. However, this summer, two new eager trainees will join the demanding life-saving program, as well as an insubordinate former Olympic swimmer, who are all called to prove their worth on the lifeguard towers just on time when a new synthetic street drug begins to infest the Emerald Bay: the flakka. Without a doubt, this calls for some serious undercover teamwork action, as the badgeless heroes in spandex comb the beach for shady newcomers and nefarious entrepreneurs with hidden agendas of their own. Can Mitch's band save the bay?Written by
It's a warm, beautiful day on the beach. The pristine waves crash gently against the sand as the sun-kissed folk of Southern Florida come out to play. Lifeguard Post 1 stands like a sentinel - its windows permanently cocked forward towards the horizon. There's a change in the wind. A wind surfer looses control of his sail and is catapulted upward towards the sky before plummeting, head first into a coral reef. He's knocked unconscious...all seems lost. Then Mitch Buchannon (Johnson) appears on the scene.
What results is a valiant rescue that inexplicably involves slow-motion running, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson flexing his pectorals underwater, fireworks and dolphins for some reason. The movie could have stopped right there as by that point we got the best version of what could have been the cinematic version of a far-fetched TV show. Unfortunately the first fifteen minutes aren't so much a harbinger of the hilarity to come but rather a visual metaphor for the movie's inflated sense of self.
The film energetically sets up its main characters with all-too-brief introductions on tryout day. We immediately endear ourselves veterans Stephanie (Hadera), C.J. (Rohrbach) and Mitch as they judge incoming trainees the tough and brainy Summer (Daddario), the dorky Ronnie (Bass) and disgraced former Olympic swimmer Matt Brody (Efron) whose ego Mitch sees as a liability. Much of the film's prouder moments are spent with The Rock and Efron doing what they do best; The Rock deflating Brody's ego with real-deal charisma and action hero one-liners - Efron playing the dim-witted, put-upon jock who deserves everything he has coming to him because he was in High School Musical (2006).
But just when you think everything will turn out for this movie, the narrative drastically shifts to a crime story that stops the movie's momentum cold. The narrative thrust involves the new owner of the beach's fancy yacht club (Chopra) and her suspicious connection to a new designer drug called Flaka. The rest of the movie doesn't so much spend time exploring that connection or its implications (Chopra compares herself favorably to a Bond villain pretty much from the get go) but instead it lays every aspect of the conspiracy out on the table and waits for the lifeguards to connect the dots.
This ploy not only doesn't work but it basically splits Baywatch into two completely unsatisfying pieces. The first piece brings a diversity of comic set-pieces which on their own, probably couldn't make a good sketch on Key and Peele (2012-2015). They lack a depth of character requiring one or two of them to be more gullible, less resourceful or otherwise dumber than what was previously established.
The other half of the movie plants its flag firmly on The Rock's ability to recap what we already know while Priyanka Chopra chews unhelpfully on the scenery until the timer runs out. All throughout the film drops hints that you should care about this or that - an insert shot of a watch brings more pause than a fiery boat rescue. Yet because nothing new is ever revealed, the film's call for attention becomes soporifically annoying.
The overall tone of the film is also aggressively reductive, treating the, in retrospect quaint misogyny of the original series with an uncomfortable amount of contrarian glee. Every time one of the girls of Baywatch justifiably call out the boys for being pervs, the payoff by the end of the film amounts to nothing more than quid pro quo ribbing or worse - they end up with the dude at the end. If Baywatch had just treated the subject as window-dressing, I might have been inclined to let it go (after all trash TV is trash TV). Unfortunately the movie stops just short of waving its d**k in the air while saying "you think we're being sexist, f**k you bruh!" Thus I think its worth a brief mention.
Baywatch has all the necessary ingredients to make a pretty satisfying comedic soup. Unfortunately apart from The Rock and Efron standing out as the film's sole saving graces, everything else is squandered on a useless story, oblivious editing and a unifying tone that's unnecessarily combative. Unless you're the type of person who truly believes Kelly Rohrbach's slo-mo runs along the beach are enough to maintain your attention, I suggest skipping out on this aggressively unfunny movie.
On a related note: Stop with the dorky guy gets the hot girl for doing nothing cliché. It's been done a hundred times before, you're bringing nothing new to the table and it's come to the point where if you do it at all it just feels icky. The Sam Witwickys of the the world should have to, you know, work for it now.
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