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That Sinking Feeling

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Seth Gordon
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra and others
Rating: * *

When the original 'Baywatch' series ran through the 1990s, it was quite a sensation, with all the skin show, Pamela Anderson running about in slow motion, and the drama happening around a California beach, where a bunch of Lifeguards keep watch.

In the 2017 tribute to the series, there has to be much more than men staring at women’s breasts in the name of humour. There is very little plot, no humour and the sexiness too is bland at a time when a bikini is no big deal, in most parts of the world.

No matter how low your expectations are, 'Baywatch' does not even meet them. For the Indians, there is Priyanka Chopra as the villainous Victoria Leeds, who runs a drugs operation with two rather inept henchmen, one black, one white. So tick the no-racism box.

Dwayne Johnson with his muscular body plays Mitch, the lifeguard who takes his job very seriously. Which is why when brash former swimming champ Matt Brody (Zac Efron) turns up to get on his team, Mitch hauls him over the coals till he learns to be suitably deferential. Like the three swimsuit-clad girls and one nerdy new male recruit, who stand around taking orders and looking impressed with Mitch.

In his quest to keep the beaches safe, Mitch often steps into the territory of the cops and gets pulled up by his boss (Rob Huebel) and the officious Sergeant Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) who gets a running ‘jurisdiction’ gag.

The thrills come from the various rescues the Baywatch team pulls off. The extra-curricular investigation that Mitch and Co. carry out into Leeds’ shady deals to take over the Bay, are just plain silly. Too dull to be a thriller, too witless to be a comedy or even parody, 'Baywatch' is quite a waste of time. The one unintentionally funny scene is when Leeds steps out of her car on the beach and a minion puts a low stool for her to put her dainty feet on. Priyanka Chopra dressed in cleavage-revealing outfits, a permanent red-lipsticked pout, and aspiring to be a Bond villain, is woefully underutilised. Perhaps she should have played an Indian character—bribing and killing her way to grab prime real estate. She does get the one smart throwaway line, “If I were a man, you'd call me driven.” Right!

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