Movie Review: “Baywatch”
Lifeguard tryouts are about to begin. Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) is the lifeguard's Lieutenant and he has become somewhat of a local legend at the bay. His bravery, and his consistency to save lives in an epic fashion has made him the local legend that he is, but he does not do what he does for the fame. Mitch takes his responsibility very seriously, and he leads his team of lifeguards as such.
Mitch and his team, which includes CJ (Kelly Rohrbach) and Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera), are overseeing the lifeguard tryouts and training the newbies, all while simultaneously watching out for the lives and property of everyone on the beach. Former Olympic Swimming Gold Medalist Matt Brody (Zac Efron), Summer (Alexandra Daddario) and Ronnie (Jon Bass) make up the eager new team of recruits. However, they will soon discover that being a lifeguard at this beach means more than just saving people from drowning. As multiple deaths start occurring at the beach, the team of lifeguards must learn how the victims are connected and must stop whoever is responsible before more lives are lost.
The Pros & Cons
Victoria Leeds (-6pts)
The Plot (-6pts)
Pro: Training (+4pts)
This is one of the times where the movie worked really well. The movie gave us three newbies, each with different motivations for being there. They were all essentially thrown into the fire, as the chaos on this beach unfolded. I liked watching how each of these characters responded differently, while trying to find their place on the team.
The training was a little ridiculous, but it worked for a comedy such as this one. I also enjoyed the comedy that came from the lack of experience that some of these characters had. It was light-hearted, and I felt that each of these newbies wanted it, so it was easy to get invested in their goal to be a part of this team. This part of the story did not last all that long, but I enjoyed it while it was happening.
Con: Victoria Leeds (-6pts)
This character, played by Priyanka Chopra, was probably my least favorite part of this movie. She was the primary antagonist of the movie, but the character just did not work for me. She had terriblly cheesy and cringe-worthy one-liners, and her story-line was very predictable, so she was not intimidating, because I knew what to expect from the character. This character was severely one-dimensional, and was nothing more than a lazy plot device.
This movie could have been a lot better if the antagonist was intimidating and made for a more interesting story. Unfortunately, I never feared that Victoria Leeds would come out of this victorious, and the story surrounding her was incredibly typical. She was bad, because she wanted money and power. She was bad, because the writers wanted her to be bad. The premise of this movie worked, but the writers got lazy with the story's protagonist, and the movie suffered for it.
Pro: Comedy (+6pts)
This movie had some fun comedic moments and lines, but it also had some ridiculous attempts at comedy that ended up falling short. Most of the comedy that worked involves Dwayne Johnson and Jon Bass. With Dwayne Johnson, the comedy came from great one-liner insults directed at Zac Efron, or action that was so over-the-top and ridiculous that it actually became funny. After having seen this movie, I cannot think of a better actor to have played Mitch than Dwayne Johnson. Dwayne Johnson looked the part and he played his character well, but the other main source of comedy came from Jon Bass. I did not think the actor brought anything incredible to the role, but he was an effective comedic relief, with most of the comedy coming from the character's misfortune. None of it had me on the floor laughing or anything, but the character definitely made the movie more entertaining.
Con: The Plot (-6pts)
One area where this movie was severely lacking was the plot. After the first five to ten minutes, I knew exactly how the entire rest of the movie would go (as far as major plot points were concerned). First there was the poor character development. Each of the main characters (played by Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Jon Bass, and Kelly Rohrbach) had really predictable story-lines. The rest of the characters got no significant character development whatsoever.
Poor character development is never a good thing, but the filmmakers can at least partially make up for it if the overall plot of the movie is decent enough. Unfortunately for this movie, the filmmakers delivered an overall plot that was just as poorly written as the character development. It was incredibly predictable, and felt like about a hundred other action-comedies that I had seen before. It just felt like nothing special, which mixed with all of the ridiculous and cheesy moments, made for a movie that felt a lot longer than it actually was, and was unable to keep me interested after the training was over.
Pro: Rescues (+4pts)
This was another area in which I thought that the movie worked really well. There were some cool rescue sequences that mixed awesome action sequences with some cheesy-action humor. These sequences show the experienced lifeguards saving lives in fun-to-watch ways. Then there were the new recruits who struggled to keep up, which provided some decent comedy. While the plot was predictable, the "rescue missions" were each unique from one another, which helped keep the movie feeling fresh. While I do not think that this was enough to make up for the lack of a decent plot or decent character development, I think that these sequences were some of the better and more memorable parts of the movie.
Con: Genre (-6pts)
This movie could have been a great comedy or a great action-comedy, but its downfall was trying to be both simultaneously. I know that may sound weird but a good action-comedy has plenty of action and is sprinkled with some jokes throughout. A comedy can have some action, but its focus is on the humor. The filmmakers of this movie tried to have an action focused plot with cool action sequences, but also tried to be a laugh-per-minute type of experience.
The result was an action movie, in which the filmmakers never took the action seriously. However, the cheesy action plot took a lot of focus away from the comedy. On top of that, the plot was not even good. The filmmakers just tried to balance too much and they ended up failing at doing so.
Grade: C- (71pts)
Baywatch was a movie that ended up being barely watchable. It had some good moments in the form of cool action, rescue sequences, humorous insults from Dwayne Johnson's character toward Zac Efron's character, a "training" storyline and comedy at the expense of Jon Bass' character. While all of those things are good and made the movie more entertaining, it all together was not enough to make up for the incredibly weak and predictable plot in which the filmmakers could not pick one genre to stick to. The antagonist was a one-note, cheesy, and boring character, which mixed with a weak plot to make for a predictable movie that felt like it was going on forever. I can safely say that this movie was not terrible, but it is certainly not worth your time. It had some laughs and cool moments, but ultimately could not overcome the poor writing.