DIRECTOR: Seth Gordon CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, David Hasselhoff SCREENPLAY BY: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift STORY BY: Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant BASED ON: Baywatch by Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonann PRODUCERS: Ivan Reitman, Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonann, Beau Flynn EDITOR: Peter Elliot CINEMATOGRAPHY: Eric Steelberg MUSIC: Christopher Lennertz GENRE: Action, Comedy, Drama PRODUCTON COMPANIES: Paramount Pictures, Contrafilm, The Montecito Picture Company, Vinson Pictures, Seven Bucks Productions, Flynn Company, Cold Spring Pictures DISTRIBUTORS: Paramount Pictures COUNTRY: USA LANGUAGE: English RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V18
MTRCB rating: R16
Lt. Mitch Buchanan (Dwayne Johnson) leads a team of lifeguards composed of Stephanie Holden (Ilfenes Hadora) and CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach) at the Emerald Bay. Mitch is well regarded by the bay community because of his track record on life rescues. In one of his routine patrols in the bay he finds a pouch of prohibited drugs washed up near the Huntley Club owned by big time businesswoman Victoria Leeds (Priyandka Chopra). Suspecting something fishy going on at the Club, he sets to investigate its activities, involving his team of lifeguards plus trainees—surfer Summer (Alexandria Daddario), nerd Ronnie (John Bss), and Matt Brody (Zac Efron, a disgraced Olympic swimmer and gold medalist). Brody initially comes on arrogant, his ego puffed up by his Olympian celebrity status, but with Mitch’s tough mentoring, he learns to work with the team. The full team works to gather evidence of Leeds’ illegal drug operations but the syndicate, the bay management, and the police give them a hard time.
Baywatch has a good cast telling a good story but excessive reference to sexual inhibitions of a nerd character and exposure of male genitals of a dead body to elicit laughter is rather distracting. Exchange of jokes in vulgar language somehow overshadows meaningful dialogue on Baywatch duties. Nonetheless, the film offers good cinematography in some of the long shots of the bay, underwater and rescue scenes, with compliments of good editing. The rescue scenes (especially the one with the boat on fire) actually give viewers a ringside view of lifeguarding, and graphically tells them the job is not just about “protecting people from sunburn”. The production design, costumes and make-up are appropriate either at the beach or in high-end social functions. The musical score gives an overall upbeat tone to the film.
Inspired by the famous American TV series of same title, Baywatch focuses on the interaction between Mitch and Brody—mentor and trainee—and the latter’s maturing through failures until he finds meaning and purpose in his work. All work duties especially as a team leader require dedication, hard work and accountability. This is how the character of Mitch is portrayed in the film. He does not tolerate arrogance among his team mates and he makes them realize the importance of good attitudes and self-discipline to be able to succeed in a lifeguard job where precious life is always at stake. The film also depicts that no matter how far a person has reached a celebrity status there comes a time that his humility may be challenged to face life’s realities, just like the character of Brody, the disgraced Olympian. When there is misunderstanding between two people with a wide age gap, the older shows firmness and maturity in injecting right attitude and values. However, the movie is peppered with shots of women’s breasts, butts, men’s sex organ, and expressions of sexual desires with vulgar language. Did Baywatch intentionally use sexual humor and situations to get the younger audience to sit up and listen to Mitch’s wisdom and sound values? For instance, we see the dead-man-in-the-morgue footage as a test of Brody’s sincerity to serve seriously as a lifeguard, and we hope that the audience who laughed over this scene saw its value as we did. Maybe yes, maybe no, thus, CINEMA gives it a V18 rating—for older teens and adults who are assumed to be more discerning viewers.