Director: Seth Gordon
Writers: Damian Shannon and Mark Swift
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hannibal Buress, Rob Huebel, Amin Joseph, Jack Kesy, Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff
Synopsis: Devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchanan butts heads with a brash new recruit. Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
When you think of Baywatch, what do you think of? 90s cheese? Slow-Mo? Good looking people in tight bathing suits? Yeah, all that sounds right. So when it was announced that a movie was being made, everyone acted like “how dare they” acting like Baywatch was this sacred brand that shouldn’t be touched. With the vein of 21 Jumps Street and some cheese factor, Baywatch is here and it’s a mixed bag of humor and cheese to make you want to run in slow-mo all over again. Well, maybe.
Baywatch follows Mitch Buchanan (Johnson), the hero and popular face of Emerald Bay, who along with Stephanie Holen (Ilfenesh Hadera) and CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach) are looking for new recruits to watch over The Bay. The eager recruits are Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario), nerdy but heart full of gold Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass) and the disgraced Olympic swimmer Matt Brody (Zach Efron), who is there for not only a publicity stunt but to spend his probation out. Brining in the new recruits isn’t the only thing Mitch has to worry out, when drugs and bodies start piling up around the beach, Mitch gets the feeling that new powerful businesswoman Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) is behind it all. What follows is Mitch leading his team to get to the bottom of it, while butting heads with local cop Sgt. Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).
Now look, you’re going to watch a Baywatch movie, so don’t go in pretending you were going to get fine and artsy cinema. It’s cheesy as hell, but it knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to act like a movie that it isn’t. Hell, Zac Efron’s Brody makes a joke that the villain’s plot and the crew’s attempt to stop it sounds like a TV show. Furthermore, let’s face it, it’s a Baywatch movie, plot isn’t something we’re striving to see.
The cast is pretty serviceable here. Johnson is the charismatic leader that spits out insult after insult to Efron’s Brody, and is bound by duty to protect the beach at all costs – even though it’s not really his job. Efron’s Brody is the conceited, good looking new guy that learns being a lifeguard is more than keeping people from drowning, Jon Bass is a pretty great highlight playing bumbling nice guy Ronnie, who has a thing for CJ, played by Kelly Rohrach, who isn’t too bad and is involved in one of the romance subplots between her and Ronnie. Alexandra Daddario’s Summer gets to play along with Johnson and Efron’s hijinks, but is still underdeveloped as a character, which also goes for Ilfenesh Hadera’s Stephanie, who feels like she’s second-in-command within the crew, but disappears at times and really doesn’t do anything.
Priyanka Chopra plays the villain Victoria Leeds, who surprisingly holds her own – especially considering I’ve never seen her in anything. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Sgt. Ellerbee is also great in his local cop role who’s always reminding team Bayatch that they are just lifeguards and not a police force. Hannibal Buress and Rob Huebel pop in as a tech guy whose friends with Ronnie and the head of the Baywatch unit, respectably. Of course, there are cameos by Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff.
All in all, Baywatch has its really strong moments, but it all really depends on if the humor grabs you. Some of the jokes don’t work, and some really overstay their welcome. A lot of Baywatch is also a little underdeveloped, which almost isn’t that much an insult, since again, it’s a Baywatch movie – but it’s still not okay.
3.5 out of 5