Not even Dwayne John­son can res­cue ‘Bay­watch’

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - MOVIES - TRI­BUNE NEWS SER­VICE BY KATIE WALSH

Dwayne “The Rock” John­son has so much charisma it can be seen from space. His charisma should be con­sid­ered a na­tional re­source and chan­neled to power homes and solve world hunger.

It’s a pre­cious and pow­er­ful tool that has lifted mid­dling come­dies like “Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence” and revved up the “Fast and Fu­ri­ous” fran­chise. But with the sloppy, in­co­her­ent “Bay­watch,” that un­stop­pable force meets its match. Shock­ingly, The Rock’s charisma just can’t save ev­ery­thing.

One would think that the com­bi­na­tion of John­son and the sweet, dumb charms of Zac Efron could cause a cin­e­matic nu­clear re­ac­tion, as it seemed through­out the pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing of the big screen take on the iconic ’90s show. But what ends up on the screen, af­ter months of an­tic­i­pa­tion, is just a mess. Poorly edited, ter­ri­bly writ­ten, and tonally all over the place, “Bay­watch” squan­ders all of its po­ten­tial for some corny, sexy throw­back fun.

John­son steps into the red swim trunks made fa­mous by David Has­sel­hoff as Mitch, life­guard ex­traor­di­naire — water­man, hero, leader, quite pos­si­bly Aqua­man him­self

He leads a bevy of bo­da­cious babes (Alexan­dra Dad­dario, Kelly Rohrbach and Ilfe­nesh Hadera) in pa­trolling the bay, pro­tect­ing all beach-lov­ing denizens from any dan­ger that might come their way.

Efron is dis­graced Olympic swim­mer Matt Brody, a pretty Ryan Lochte-type bad boy, with the tragic blonde high­lights to prove it. Po­lice Cap­tain Thorpe (Rob Huebel) as­signs the Olympian to the life­guard team as a PR stunt, a ful­fill­ment of his com­mu­nity ser­vice hours af­ter a mys­tery plea deal. The con­tentious duo learn to be a team through many ocean-based res­cues, boy-band nick­names, gay panic and light-hearted corpse des­e­cra­tion.

This bom­bas­tic re­boot, di­rected in­com­pe­tently by Seth Gor­don, is held to­gether with noth­ing more than hopes, dreams and neo­prene, and in­evitably, all of those sys­tems fail.

The first act of the film is en­er­getic and fun — life­guard tryouts and light-hearted flirt­ing, but then all heck breaks loose. Mitch be­comes fix­ated on an in­flux of a new drug, “flaca,” on the beach, and is con­vinced it’s con­nected to ra­pa­cious en­tre­pre­neur and

club owner Vic­to­ria Leeds (Priyanka Cho­pra, sneer­ing like a B-movie vil­lain).

The guards’ un­con­ven­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tion reaches way above and beyond your av­er­age life­guard du­ties. This wild goose chase ir­ri­tates the ac­tual po­lice force, since life­guards aren’t ex­actly in the law en­force­ment busi­ness. They have a point.

Cred­ited to no less than six writ­ers ( not in­clud­ing the orig­i­nal “Bay­watch” show cre­ators), this film has no voice, but even more cru­cially, it has not one lick of sense. It mixes raunchy com­edy, ac­tion-ad­ven­ture and drug thriller el­e­ments with seem­ingly touch­ing mo­ments within the same scene.

All el­e­ments of char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment are mis­han­dled or oth­er­wise un­der­mined in the script. The wonky scene tran­si­tions and slap­dash edit­ing rife with con­ti­nu­ity and spa­tial er­rors don’t help mat­ters.

“Bay­watch” is fun when it’s pok­ing fun at its ori­gins, cit­ing out­landish plots from the orig­i­nal show and call­ing at­ten­tion to ref­er­ences and for­mu­las.

Dur­ing the bonkers crazy cli­max, Brody ut­ters, “that sounds com­pli­cated … and cheesy!” It’s sup­posed to make fun of the show’s for­mula, but comes off like an in­dict­ment of the very thing in which he’s star­ring. “Bay­watch” falls prey to that which it lam­poons, be­com­ing the thing that it wanted to par­ody. Com­pli­cated and cheesy just about nails it.

FRANK MASI/ PARA­MOUNT PICTURES

Dwayne John­son, left, and Zac Efron in “Bay­watch.”

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