By Jamie Traner, Senior Staff Writer
Georgia-lensed “Baywatch” is one of the most highly anticipated summer blockbusters of 2017, but perhaps the Georgia community is buzzing a little extra. The film, set in Broward County, Florida, was filmed in Miami and Deerfield Beach, Florida, as well as in our very own Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia.
What to expect of “Baywatch:” think Wendy Peffercorn (of “The Sandlot”) joins “21 Jumpstreet.”
The lifeguards of the Bay don’t seem to quit beyond the sand. A job that is “clearly a job for police” only seems to encourage Mitch Buchannon, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and his cohorts, team and recruits alike. “Baywatch” follows as the trainees and long-time veterans form a unit and try to take down villain, fresh from the Hollywood screen Victoria Leeds (played by Priyanka Chopra).
So, we open on a serene beach scene, with early morning yoga and a soft color palette that makes you wonder why you haven’t yet booked your one-way ticket to the beach, but that is quickly switched for an over dramatic introduction of characters and big, bold BAYWATCH crashes on the screen. Quite quickly does one get the vibe of the film. Between ‘humble’ hotshot Mitch running through the beach and a (less-than-subtle) cocky Olympian swimmer Matt Brody (Zac Efron) riding up to lifeguard tryouts on a fresh motorcycle, underdog Ronnie trapped by genitalia in front of his crush, and much more, audiences are enjoying side-stitch hilarity within the first 10 minutes.
The comedy starts by using slang catch phrases that are so culturally common, it’s a surprise to hear stars like Alexandria Daddario and Ilfenesh Hadera sling them so effortlessly. See: “Fresh out of f***s” and you can see the character development begin to build while numbing audiences with comic relief. Sexual innuendos and f-bombs are a-plenty. This stays pretty consistent; even the most serious moments of the film are reeled back with comic relief, which will serve well as a summer blockbuster. However, it seems that all the emotional ties and character development ceases, or finds a comfortable conclusion, at the midpoint, to the extent where I questioned if the film switched writers halfway.
The second half of the film is still good but already has the feel of a “not as great as the first” of most sequels. There isn’t really much to say about the second half without referencing spoilers, but the cheesy plot becomes redundant and airs more on the side of a continuity of the “Jumpstreet“ franchise, rather than a visit of the “Baywatch“ show, despite frequent jabs, nods, and cameos from the television series. By the time the plot takes us to the climax I was waiting for it to be over.
The graphics are highly saturated, as one would expect from an action film. I’d give a B+ to the cinematography. The soundtrack, though not a classic by any means, hits the nail on the head for the genre stylistics of beach/club/summer vibes, A. And the casting was perfect for each character, A.
It really does, however, go down with the second half of the script and plot falling off that makes my final review a 2.5 of 5 stars.
I think the overall takeaway is that if you have a subpar script but have a cult following and some big whig, particularly gorgeous faces, you can get away with a lacking script. It’s still worth a watch, if nothing more than to promote the Georgia film industry.