After teasing a run for president and starring in multiple blockbuster films, a natural extension for Dwayne Johnson was starring in the Baywatch reboot.
The movie stars Johnson as Mitch Buchannon, a lifeguard who does his job damn well. He’s joined by Kelly Rohrbach as CJ Parker and Ilfnesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden, who serve as his sidekicks/lifeguarding contemporaries.
That group needs new lifeguard recruits, so they hold open tryouts where an arrogant, two-time gold medalist Matt Brody played by Zac Efron tries to skirt by without much effort. Alexandra Daddario as Summer Quinn and Jon Bass as Ronnie Greenbaum also try out for the new positions. Needless to say they’re brought on as trainees after multiple slow motion montages
Johnson and Efron butt heads throughout the movie and a lot of the great parts of the movie come from their banter back and forth. Big portions of the conflict in this film come from the two facing off. Efron’s character is forced to join the team due to a plea bargain and since Johnson’s character is one to take his job seriously, life lessons are taught all over the place.
The two eventually team up to try and stop a drug problem that is hampering the bay. They suspect that the owner of a local restaurant that is looking to rapidly expand is the culprit. Priyanka Chopra plays Victoria Leeds, the main villain of the film. Surprisingly intimidating, her role suits her well. As she and her henchman begin taking out people that stand in her way, suspicions are raised.
Most of the hi-jinx centers around the group trying to pin down solid evidence on Chopra’s character. As lifeguards, who are reminded multiple times that “they’re just people investigating other people.” They have a tough time getting any leeway with the local law enforcement.
The most memorable (or maybe infamous) scene will definitely be the scene in the morgue where some defiling of dead bodies may put people on edge.
The supporting characters aren’t given much to do but the subplot of Bass’ and Rohrbach’s characters falling for one another is solid enough to grab your attention. Bass is great as comedic relief and Rohrbach handles her role with aplomb.
A gripe about the film that wouldn’t otherwise matter is the comedic material given to the male cast members versus the female cast members. While their is equality in the “bodily objectification”, the male counterparts are given a lot more to chew on comedically speaking.
What is truly disappointing is the simple nature of the movie. A lot of it is going through the motions for these actors. Efron playing the pretty boy jerk, Johnson playing the nearly super human hero, it has been done before. It is nearly becoming masturbatory for both. Yes, you’re both Hollywood stars with impeccable physiques but after that, you’re leaving more to be desired.
With that being said, they didn’t get to this point without having some chops. They keep the story moving and are good enough to keep you entertained. The laughs aren’t knock you out of your seat good but there are enough to keep you satisfied. It is a delicate tight rope that they walk. The generally agreeable nature of the film could be detriment to some, in this case it is solid summer fare.
From the villain, to the cast, to the action. Everything is above board and enjoyable. It lends itself well to potential sequels. We even got cameos from classic TV cast members promising to make full fledged appearances in a follow up film.
It’s fun and safe, when it should have been risky and salacious. It’s a tonal tweak that may not have been expected. It somehow still works in their favor.
Whether you love or hate the movie, you’ll be watching Baywatch on TNT in three years not changing the channel. You’ll be enjoying it for the popcorn movie that it is.