Despite recent box office failures such as Black Adam, Dwayne Johnson is still widely regarded as one of the biggest A-list stars in the industry. His hit films range from action-adventure to comedy, to even animated outings such as 2016’s Moana. One of the former wrestler’s most underrated films, 2017’s Baywatch, is adapted from the hit 1980s television series of the same name and is currently available to stream on Paramount+.
Baywatch was written by screenwriting team Mark Swift and Damian Shannon, who previously collaborated on 2003’s Freddy Vs. Jason, as well as 2009’s Friday The 13th. The film was directed by Horrible Bosses and Identity Thief filmmaker Seth Gordon, who took over production after the studio parted ways with their initial hire, Daddy’s Home and Horrible Bosses 2 director Sean Anders.
Dwayne Johnson stars alongside a host of Hollywood’s hottest A-listers, including Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, and The White Lotus‘ Alexandra Daddario.
Dwayne Johnson leads the star-studded cast of Baywatch, now streaming on Paramount+.
In addition to Dwayne Johnson and company, Baywatch touts a number of cameo appearances from returning stars of the original 1989 Baywatch television series, as well as The Eric Andre Show‘s Hannibal Buress, Children’s Hospital‘s Rob Huebel and The Office‘s Oscar Nuñez. Both David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson appear in the film as a nod to their leading roles in the series. NFL players Arian Foster and Vernon Davis each have cameo appearances in the film, as well as YouTube star-turned-professional wrestler Logan Paul, though Paul’s scenes were ultimately cut.
The Baywatch movie was first announced as early as 2004 before entering into development hell. Over the course of several rewrites, a change in director, and an unbalanced production schedule, eventually, Dwayne Johnson came on board to star. Once Johnson had signed on to lead the film, most updates regarding casting and production progress were reported directly from the star’s Instagram account, which touts a base of over 391 million followers.
The film centers on Dwayne Johnson’s Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon, head lifeguard of the Baywatch division located in Emerald Bay, Florida. Joined by his compatriots Stephanie Holden and C.J. Parker, the team protects the beaches and beachgoers from a number of dangers, including drowning, shark attacks, and even drug smuggling efforts from foreign cartels. Despite the team’s support and love from their admiring community, the local police seem to have a long-standing beef with the Baywatchers, mostly due to jealousy.
One morning, while performing a routine patrol, Dwayne Johnson’s character discovers a baggie of designer drugs owned by a powerful local businesswoman. Convinced that she is involved in a massive drug-smuggling operation, the team decides to go undercover to investigate. As they begin their investigation, a number of dangers arise on the beach, including a pair of children who nearly drown and a yacht fire that kills a local city councilman.
Baywatch was savaged by the critics, calling out Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron in particular, but this film was never meant for them.
Dwayne Johnson and his crew continue to save as many beach-goers as possible throughout the chaos in an attempt to prevent their community from falling apart. As the main team continues to tug on the thread of lies and deceit that plague their local sands, a new group of young people tries out for the Baywatch brigade, stopping low-level thieves and saving innocent people throughout their training.
Finally, in a thrilling conclusion, the gang learns exactly how all the crimes are interwoven, uncovering a murder plot as well as a drug operation bigger than they could ever imagine.
Though the film was a massive financial success, grossing nearly $180 million at the worldwide box office against an estimated production budget of only $69 million, the film was critically panned by audiences, receiving terrible review scores across the board. The film currently holds an abysmal 17 percent critic score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes and a host of nominations from the Golden Raspberry Awards, which are given to the worst movies each year.
Dwayne Johnson’s unique charisma is perfect for the role of a buff lifeguard who’s still a little goofy.
Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron’s performances were specifically maligned as cheesy and unbelievable, though the script’s convoluted writing and meandering plot took the brunt of the critic’s ire.
Despite the negative press, some viewers seemed to enjoy the film. At the very least, Dwayne Johnson seems to stand by the film for its financial successes, in stark contrast to his sweep-it-under-the-rug reaction recently seen in the aftermath of his Black Adam outing with DC. If you’re interested in giving the movie a try, Baywatch is currently available to stream on Paramount+.