Dwayne Johnson, AKA The Rock, and Zac Efron star in Baywatch.
Dwayne Johnson, AKA The Rock, and Zac Efron star in Baywatch. Frank Masi

MOVIE REVIEW: Something's been lost in translation in Baywatch film adaptation

ATHLETES who overtrain tend to underperform. Something similar occurs with this pumped-up film adaptation of the popular '90s television series Baywatch.

The fun, dumb, sunbaked action comedy has a lot going for it - including Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, two of the most amenable and well-built actors in Hollywood.

Perhaps director Seth Gordon should have gotten a few tips from his stars' respective personal trainers, since there's nothing even remotely stale about Johnson's rock-hard biceps or Efron's finely-chiselled six pack.

Alexandra Daddario and Zac Efron in a scene from Baywatch.
Alexandra Daddario and Zac Efron in a scene from Baywatch. Frank Masi

Although one might quibble over Efron's extreme muscle definition since his character, a disgraced Olympic champion, hasn't been training for quite some time, and even at his peak, US swimmer Michael Phelps didn't look like Baywatch's brash new recruit (probably because the 23-time Olympic gold medallist had to eat).

The increasing fetishisation of male actors' bodies has a natural, self-aware place in Baywatch, which simultaneously pokes fun at the body beautiful culture while celebrating the results.

The women, by comparison, take a back seat in the sexual objectification department. Although scantily clad, Alexandra Daddario ('I'm not dating Zac'), Kelly Rohrbach and Ilfenesh Hadera, play a more athletic role in the film adaptation.

Jon Bass, as the pudgy but game Ronnie, provides an everyman counterpoint.

Baywatch's action sequences have plenty of explosive charge. And the underwater scenes are vividly realised.

The set-up is also well considered - since it includes moviegoers in the joke with a minimum of winks and nudges.

Stealing his name from David Hasselhoff's character, Johnson's overzealous lifeguard Mitch Buchannon takes his job so seriously, he has absolutely no awareness of jurisdictional boundaries.

Which is how he gets his team embroiled in a dangerous drug-running operation masterminded by a beautiful Indian property developer (Priyanka Chopra) who will stop at nothing to seize control of the bay.

Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera take to the beach for the film adaptation of Baywatch.
Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera take to the beach for the film adaptation of Baywatch. Frank Masi

Murder, mayhem and a good deal of personal humiliation ensue.

Efron has already proved his comedy chops - most notably in the two Bad Neighbours films - and he steals a few moments here.

But something has been lost in translation from screenplay to screen - the jokes should be funnier than they are.

There are a few chuckles but no real belly laughs.

Not even the ever-reliable Johnson, with his outsized screen charisma, can keep Baywatch afloat.

Baywatch opens on Thurday, June 1.

BAYWATCH

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario.

Director: Seth Gordon

Rating: MA 15+

Reviewer: Vicky Roach

Verdict: 3/5 stars



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