An ab­so­lute hunk of junk

Seth Gor­don’s re­boot of the lit­tle-loved 1990s TV show is so poor that it even screws up the David Hassle­hoff cameo, writes Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS -

BAY­WATCH Di­rected by Seth Gor­don. Star­ring Dwayne John­son, Zac Efron, Alexan­dra Dad­dario, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Cho­pra, Jon Bass, Ilfe­nesh Hadera. Cert 12A, gen re­lease, 117mins It’s not un­rea­son­able that Seth Gor­don’s mer­ci­lessly rub­bish re­boot of iconic 1990s TV show ex­pected to get by on the col­lec­tive charms of Zac Efron and Dwayne John­son. Plenty of so-so movies – Jour­ney 2: The Mys­te­ri­ous Is­land, San An­dreas – have chugged along, pow­ered en­tirely by the pres­ence of The Rock.

Un­til Bay­watch, in fact, we felt en­tirely cer­tain that the global en­ergy cri­sis could be solved overnight, if only some bof­fin could fig­ure out a way to har­ness the in­ter­na­tional surge of good­will that hap­pens when­ever His Ge­o­log­i­cal­ness ap­pears on a big screen. Un­til Bay­watch. Here is a film so poor, so half-ar­sed, and so con­temp­tu­ous of its au­di­ence, that it screws up one of the great, (pre­vi­ously) in­fal­li­ble tropes of con­tem­po­rary cinema: the David Hassle­hoff cameo.

A lively over­ture, which sees Mitch Buchanan (Dwayne John­son) ex­e­cute a dar­ing res­cue against a car­toon­ish sea­side – re­plete with happy dol­phins – points to­ward a campy reprise of the orig­i­nal coast­guard-themed show: “Why does it al­ways look like she’s in slo-mo?” etc.

Un­hap­pily, Damian Shan­non and Mark Swift’s lazy screen- play soon ditches the kitsch in favour of a straight-up bro-down be­tween Mitch and rookie life­guard Matt (Efron). Mus­cles are duly flexed while Mr John­son re­peats the film’s only joke: re­fer­ring to Efron by the names of boy­bands. One Di­rec­tion! Ha! You like that? Good. Let’s re­cy­cle the gag as Jonas Broth­ers, New Kids on the Block, NSYNC, and – wait for it – High School Mu­si­cal.

A few misog­y­nist swear­words (bitch, man-gina), and hack­neyed phrases (“not a sin­gle f*ck was given”) later, and they’re best buds, hunt­ing down an evil drug-deal­ing prop­erty de­vel­oper who wants to pri­va­tise the en­tire coast (Bol­ly­wood star Priyanka Cho­pra).

And then they’re not best buds any­more, be­cause Matt isn’t a team player and keeps in­sist­ing that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the lu­di­crous vil­lain­ess ought to be po­lice busi­ness. “But we’re coast­guards” be­gins as a poke at the TV source but is re­peated so of­ten, it feels like a Pin­teresque in­ter­ro­ga­tion. “What have you done with Pamela An­der­son?” asks no one, be­cause sure enough, she pops up be­fore the cred­its.

Early on, Zac Efron won­ders aloud if this isn’t just some sadis­tic haz­ing rit­ual. By the end, we were won­der­ing the ex­act same thing.

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