Let’s get the obvious out of the way; Baywatch was critically panned upon its cinematic release earlier this year. Though the trailers released ahead of the film were hilarious, X-rated and used smart humour alongside some of the very silly stuff, it wasn’t enough for the reviewers to get behind the flick. So, how does the extended version fare? We think, very well.
Baywatch brings old-time fans and new audience members right back to one of the world’s most famous beaches, but there are fresh faces in charge, none more so than Lt. Mitch Buchannon, played by the brilliant Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. With his iconic team of lifeguards and the new arrival of former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron), the meatheads are forced to ditch what they know and turn detective as a dangerous wave of crime hits the beach.
It all sounds like heavy and dark stuff, but writers, cast and crew have here developed a deep sense of irony, even emasculating Efron in one of the male leads at every opportunity, rather than resorting to turning the women involved into pieces of meat, as the original Baywatch series did on many occasions.
Johnson and Efron do well carrying the weight of this franchise on their finely-chiselled backs. The chemistry between the pair is unrivalled, but it is worth noting that whilst the women aren’t turned into pawns of attraction for viewers, the writing around them isn’t as developed as it is around the men. Priyanka Chopra is a wonderful actress as anybody who has seen Quantico will know, but her villainess Victoria Leeds is extremely one-note.
Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach do a little better with their characters Summer Quinn and CJ Parker respectively, but again, it feels as if all of the effort in the writer’s room went towards making Johnson and Efron look as good as possible.
The comedy writing is for the most part funny. There are some unnecessary moments, such as donning Efron in drag, that fail to get the belly laughs expected simply because drag is now becoming more mainstreamed. It’s not hilarious to don a man up in stereotypically-female clothing, because it’s accepted. It’s not taboo. So to try and make a joke out of it could quite frankly be seen as offensive (and not in a good, crude and crass kind of way!)
If reinventing the franchise was what those behind 2017’s Baywatch wanted to do, then they’ve done a very good job indeed. There’s nothing hugely memorable about this film and it’s one you’ll probably be fine seeing just once in your lifetime, but it does open the door for more adventures in the future. Would we turn up to watch them? Yes, probably. But would we really care all that much if we missed them? Probably not.
Baywatch is available now on DVD, with the extended version available on digital download, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD.