It isn’t often that we see a full length feature film being made on a once popular television series that ran unopposed for years. However, this Friday, we see the release of the much talked about film BAYWATCH which features none other than the Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra making her highly publicized Hollywood debut. But the film based on the adventures of lifeguards emerge as a solid entertain is the big question.
Starting of, BAYWATCH introduces the character of Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) who heads the team of lifeguards at Emerald Bay in Florida. Mitch along with his second-in-command Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera) and C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach), protect the beaches and the bay as part of an elite division known as Baywatch. Having made over 500 rescues in his career, Mitch is beloved by the community, to the annoyance of local beat cop Garner Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Mitch’s superior, Captain Thorpe (Rob Huebel). During one of his morning patrols, Mitch discovers a small pouch of drugs washed up near the Huntley Club, which is now under the ownership of businesswoman Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopa). Though Mitch would rather focus on solving the drug trafficking issue, he has to oversee the upcoming tryouts for new lifeguards. Two people stand out in the tryouts, surfer Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) and Ronnie (Jon Bass), a chubby nerd with a crush on C.J. The third recruit in the form of Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a former Olympic swimmer who fell from grace after vomiting during a race and now has to perform community service as part of an unspecified plea deal, is directed to join Mitch’s troupe. While Quinn and Ronnie both pass the trials, Brody refuses to do so and insists that his celebrity status alone entitles him to a place on the team. Will Mitch manage to control the self-serving Matt Brody, will the Baywatch team overcome the drug issue, or will Victoria Leeds prove to be too cunning for the team of lifeguards… is what forms the rest of the film.
Right from the start, the viewer is able to understand that much like the TV series, BAYWATCH the film has little to offer, save for bikini clad lifeguards who seem to be in a permanent slow motion while running, and of course the never ending abs fest between Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. In fact, BAYWATCH comes across as a series of happenings and gags strung together in an ad hock manner to keep the viewer on a roller coaster that switches from not so rib-tickling gags to some surprisingly well executed action sequences and a testosterone fuelled battle between the male actors. On the other hand, making matters worse is that none of the female artists in the film (Priyanka Chopra included) seem to have much of a role or for that matter involvement in the story. In fact the film has no plot whatsoever. It’s just a wafer thin concept of lifeguards trying to find drugs at a local club, something that the cops for some odd reason don’t wish to investigate.
Coming to the characters in the film, while there is nothing much to talk about in terms of performances, almost all the characters seem lost and severely under developed. Apart from Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron’s characters, none of the others seem to have either a meaty role or a back story that lends their characters any depth. While the meandering plot line is pointless, the comic love story between Jon Bass and Kelly Rohrbach literally saves the day, offering the viewer a much needed comic respite. If that wasn’t enough, making matters worse, none of the other girls’ viz. Alexandra Daddario and Ilfenesh Hadera get to do much until the climax action sequence. Priyanka Chopra, despite her promotion and talk about featuring as the main villain of the film, practically has very little screen time and is totally underutilized and wasted. Besides this her villainous schemes have absolutely no reasoning and her overly forceful bad ass character seems to be trying too hard to resemble a Bond villain with oomph. At the end of the day, one just feels that Priyanka deserves so much more than this.
Director Seth Gordon who has also directed HORRIBLE BOSSES and the TV series Modern Family tries his level best to ensure a smooth proceeding. However, he is clueless as the film is neither a complete comedy, nor an action thriller. Much like the characters in the film, the writers have done a terrible job and have no clue of what they wanted to make. To add to all this, many of the jokes and glamour quotient in the film have been ruthlessly chopped off by Indian censors. There’s literally very little BAYWATCH magic left in whatever has been cleared by the Indian censors.
On the whole, BAYWATCH had so much going for it but it doesn’t live upto the expectations. At the box office too, with immense competition coming in from the multiple releases this week, BAYWATCH will face a tough time raking in the moolah.