Baywatch Review

Priyanka Chopra plays the villain, Victoria Leeds, in “Baywatch.” (Priyanka Chopra/Twitter photo)

Paramount Pictures, Contrafilm, The Montecito Picture Company, Vinson Pictures, Seven Bucks Productions, Flynn Company & Cold Spring Pictures present – “Baywatch.”

Produced by: Ivan Reitman, Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonann & Beau Flynn

Directed by: Seth Gordon

Written by: Damian Shannon & Mark Swift from a story by Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant based on characters created by Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz & Gregory J. Bonann

Music: Christopher Lennertz

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Jon Bass, Ilfenesh Hadera, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Rob Huebel,

Hannibal Buress, Belinda, Jack Kesy, Amin Joseph, Oscar Nuñez, Izabel Goulart, Charlotte McKinney, Arian Foster, Seth Gordon and others Sp. App.: David Hasselhoff & Pamela Anderson

You might say it is a kind of home ground for Priyanka Chopra. As Victoria Leeds, the ruthless criminal who will not stop at anything to get what she wants (which is always illegal!), she commands a poise and presence that is definitely one of the highlights of this thorough entertainer.

And that is also why we say “home ground” – because “Baywatch” offers entertainment in a gargantuan dose. This action comedy may have been panned by Western critics (the Indian press is unlikely to be kinder), but the film, despite the F-word overdose and other lines that may not be allowed by our censors in a desi film, is actually like an Indian movie in disguise. That’s the general feel we get midway, and it is maintained till the end. Complete with key cameos and the hint of a sequel in the post-climax! The morgue sequence, too, seems to be straight out of our kind of films.

Over 25 years after the cult TV show, the first movie is made on the (fictional) elite lifeguard force of Florida highlights the valiant team, but since this is a film and not an episode, it needs to have a plot. While Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) is the chief, the plot is driven by the owner of the Huntley Club, Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), who runs a drug cartel and wants to privatize the beach, being in cohorts with politicians and others.

Mitch, even as he and his team of new recruits and existing associates deal with daily rescues and affairs, decides to expose Leeds when he begins to suspect her involvement as he discovers drugs on the beach and on the person of a woman he rescues from a burning boat. But for a good part of the story, he also has to deal with an insubordinate recruit, Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a disgraced Olympian medalist.

Mitch’s team, complete with second-in-command Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) and the new trainees, is truly an assorted and eccentric if likable bunch, with their own funny and cute traits. And so, once the conflict between Mitch and Brody ends, it is time for business—and possible death. How Leeds is finally exposed and destroyed forms the rest of this supremely entertaining film where we think of minute logic only as much as we should in Hollywood films with VFX-heavy plots!

Technically, there is nothing to complain about. The cinematography by Eric Steelberg and the costumes by Dayne Pink merit special compliments. The music is good too. Seth Gordon’s firm grip on the “Baywatch” canon as he blends it with this big-screen story is enough to keep fans of the series happy, even as a new generation can take to it by word-of-mouth. Make no mistake – a sequel is on the way!

Besides Chopra, those who especially score high in their easy performances are Johnson and Efron (of course), Kelly Rohrbach as C.J. Parker, Job Bass as Ronnie and Alexandra Daddario as Summer Quinn, Brody’s love interest and a tough and intrepid member of the force.

Of the three foreign films (“xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage” and “Kung-Fu Yoga”) with principal Indian artists this year, this one, by leagues, is the best. Correction: it is the only one of the three that is worth a watch. Go to the movies and be entertained.

Rating: ***1/2

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