If you know me, you know I fully support Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He was the best new addition to the Fast & Furious franchise and he has actually become a decent actor in the past decade. It makes sense with the number of movies The Rock has been making; if you’re in the amount of movies he’s in, you’re going to get better and better. That’s not to say The Rock is Daniel Day-Lewis, don’t be absurd. But there’s a reason audiences flock in the masses to see a movie headlined by the former wrestling champion. I was excited for Baywatch (2017) to happen just like any fan of The Rock. Muscle-bound ex-wrestlers, Zac Efron, loud music, explosions, and scantily clad women are all you need to make the (perfect) summer blockbuster. The only issue is none of these ingredients can fix pure laziness when it comes to filmmaking.
I sat through Baywatch utterly confused for two hours. Confused because I honestly did not know if this movie was just bad or badly edited. There are some solid scenes in this movie that can definitely be accredited to The Rock’s dedication more than the work of script. But these heartfelt scenes, like the one explaining why the Baywatch team is so dedicated to what they do, are few and far between, and what we’re given in between these moments are some of the worst action scenes I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen television shows with less funding that have visual effects far more convincing than the poor excuse for smoke and fire in Baywatch. I get that The Rock needs to jump off an exploding yacht because that one shot will sell tickets when people see it in the trailers, but at least make it look semi-convincing! I’ll ignore the fact that I don’t think even The Rock can stand THAT close to fire; but at least give paying viewers the chance to see some cool effects. There’s only one scene where I thought to myself, “This is well shot,” throughout the entire movie. One.
Just about everything in Baywatch looks fake. The green screen is far too obvious (FAR. Too obvious.) and it was very clear that The Rock and Zac Efron had conflicting schedules because half of their scenes together were filmed on separate days and someone slapped a fake or digital back of The Rock/Efron’s respective heads for their over-the-shoulder-coverage. I’m a fan of Zac Efron just like any 20-something-year-old fan of High School Musical (2008), but he looks like a 2017 Ken doll and I’m like 80% sure half of his muscle is either prosthetic or painted on. When The Rock takes off his shirt, it at least looks like him. Efron’s image is way too forced and his character is unbearable. If Efron isn’t gawking at Alexandra Daddario’s chest, he’s throwing up in a pool or sleeping under a pier to look edgy. However Efron doesn’t even compare to how much I hated Jon Bass, who plays Ronnie – the cookie cutter Jewish underdog whose only purpose in the movie to is have a hard-on for Kelly Rohrbach and make an ass of himself to “be a part of the team”. I feel bad because I think this was supposed to be Bass’ breakout roll and I could not stand him from start to finish. Every scene or gag he was involved with made me cringe, and I can say with full confidence I would have liked this movie significantly more if he was completely removed.
I wish I had more to say but I can’t wrap my head around this movie. It could have been as meta and raunchy as 21 Jump Street (2012), and still had heart to it with a buddy/buddy dynamic between The Rock and Zac Efron. Even a mentor/trainee scenario would have worked better than this bland attempt at re-hashing a ridiculous concept with something that’s just plain ridiculous – and not in a good way. It’s a shame because the cast is solid and there is a lot of material to work with. Unfortunately, too much fell through the cracks and what remained was barely concrete.