Latest posts by Oliver Ledingham-Smith (see all)
- Review: Logan – Hugh Jackman’s Swan Song Is His Best Iteration Of The Character - March 20, 2019
- ‘Hidden Figures’ tells a remarkably unheard of true story of galactic proportions - February 7, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War Is A Success That’s Ten Years In The Making - December 10, 2018
There is absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that the TV series of Baywatch, that ran from 1989-2001 and had an impressively staggering 242 episodes over the course of 11 seasons, each of which were roughly 45 minutes long (if not longer, in some cases), was a huge success. Therefore it was only going to be a matter of time before Hollywood dared touch something that good, in the hopes of replicating it for a whole new generation. Instead of changing the formula drastically (I’ve never seen a single episode, but it’s extremely well known so one can presume from having seen this reboot alone), the powers-that-be decided to stay on relatively safe ground. I mean that as a compliment, as the main character is still Mitch Buchannon, only instead of David Hasselhoff reprising the role, this time he’s played by Dwayne Johnson. A certain charm and inherent likeableness that Johnson emanates naturally is brought to the character: he is headstrong, stubborn, yet has a kind heart, which is evidenced by the fact that he looks out for everyone. Also, he has to: it’s in the job description of being a lifeguard for the bay.
The new summer season is about to begin, and Baywatch needs new recruits. One of these happens to be cocksure, arrogant, brash and narcissistic, Matt Brody (Zac Efron), who immediately butts heads with Mitch. Just because he has two Olympic Gold medals does not give him an automatic free pass on to the team; Mitch demands that he still has to do the course and thus prove himself. Also trying out (for the third time) is Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass), whose reasons for doing so are painfully transparent, to the point where they can be seen by a blind man. Naturally, this is testament to screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift for making Ronnie’s motivations so exceedingly clear. Then there is newcomer (who is trying out for the first time), Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario). Usually Baywatch only picks one new person to join their team each year, but this year (no surprise) they pick three, if only because the script needed them to, rather than for any real reason. Sometimes shoehorning things in for the sake of the plot can be a bad thing, but on this occasion I’m prepared to let it slide, if only because the members of Baywatch gelled so well together.
Baywatch is a rather simple story, told through the medium of funny jokes, crude language, and not-so-subtle nods from Mitch to Efron’s character, whereby he calls him a bunch of names, one of which is ‘High School Musical’, which is a blatant reference to Efron having been the lead actor in all three of those movies. There is a bunch of slow-mo jogging, and the women’s skimpily-clad outfits just emphasise what is already there. But if you’re concerned that it’s all about boobs, don’t worry, because there’s a lot more male nudity than you would expect that is thrown in for good measure. Brody, while arrogant and believing himself to be above everyone else, at least seems to have his head screwed on straight in regards to how to handle potential criminal situations. This leads to more confrontations with Mitch, who in comparison wants to handle everything himself, instead of going to the authorities, for he believes that taking the law into his own hands is the best and fastest way to go about achieving things. Both sides present their own arguments, yet invariably, Mitch wins, if only for the sake of the film having a continuing plot.
The villain of Baywatch is villainous because they want money, and the only way to go about doing so is to be a villain and to sell drugs (apparently Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) has been watching too much Breaking Bad). Mitch and the Baywatch team try to stop her. That’s essentially all you need to know, as the movie treads familiar story beats, familiar motions, and familiar plot devices that seemed incongruous when they were first brought up, but ultimately serviced the story later on down the line. Baywatch is more than just about the boobs and Efron’s chiselled body (it probably helped that he had the Rock to work out with), and actually has a story that is worth investing your time in, regardless of how ‘familiar’ it might be. The reason these kinds of stories are made with so much frequency is because if they’re done right and done well, they tend to work. Baywatch was never going to be Oscar-worthy – after all, it’s an R rated comedy, a sandbox that Efron is more than comfortable in now – but it did exceed expectations nonetheless.
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