The Bodyguard (1992)

Film review: The Bodyguard (1992), directed by Mick Jackson

thebodyguardAfter the initial shock and surprise to hear Whitney Houston was found dead, the next step was to see if any of the TV channels had decided to show The Bodyguard in response. Maybe it was already going to be shown anyway, but one of the ITV channels had it on. Now I just feel a bit awkward writing this review … you’ll see why in a bit.

Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is a bodyguard for hire who is very good at what he does and takes his job very seriously. In fact, he doesn’t even want to tie himself down to becoming a permanent employee of a client because he doesn’t want any potential attachment cloud his judgement.

He’s contacted by Devaney (Bill Cobbs), who would like to pay him good money to protect singer and actress Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) and her son Fletcher (DeVaughn Nixon), because there have been some threatening letters sent, and some creepy dude managed to get into her mansion, where she lives with her sister Nicki (Michele Lamar Richards).

For Farmer, it’s not as straightforward as he’d hoped. Rachel’s manager Sy (Gary Kemp) wants her to perform at all cost, Rachel herself doesn’t want a babysitter/prison guard, and Tony (Mike Starr), hired muscle, doesn’t take kindly at being left behind in the rain. Luckily, Farmer gets along famously with Fletcher, and trains Henry the driver (Christopher Birt) to be his assistant.

And then it’s two hours of Costner trying to save Rachel from doing stupid things that endanger her, with Tomas Arana as a former colleague of Farmer’s, Ralph Waite as Farmer’s dad (same guy plays Gibbs’s dad on NCIS, I thought he looked familiar) and with a cameo in the end by gorgeous Nathaniel Parker.

Unintentionally funny moment arises when Rachel gets an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Yeah, in your dreams. Houston’s not bad, but her strength is definitely her incredible singing voice, not her acting. Costner never sings, but I’m starting to wonder if he’d be better at singing too. Is he related to Keanu Reeves at all? It’s just that he didn’t exactly sparkle in Rumor Has It … but he was okay, it was that kind of role. Here, I’m just struck by how incredibly dull he is. I like Farmer as a character, he does his duty and is kinda handsome, even if his hair is unflattering, but at times, it’s like watching paint dry.

When we also get lashings of music video clips of Whitney Houston, it feels more like an out-drawn advert for one of her albums, and it really feels like the film goes on for a lot longer than is called for.

I’ve probably only seen this film once, in the early-to-mid-1990s, and it didn’t take long to start grasping who the bad guys were. It’s always the weird-looking ones. Stalker dude? Looks like a weirdo. Killer dude? Has weird eyes. I thought the manager was going to be one too, simply based on his English accent, because we all know Brits are bad guys in Hollywood films. Faking a psycho stalker to increase publicity? Wouldn’t be the first time. But oh, it was much simpler than that – why do some people look a bit weird? Because they are weird, obviously! Yes, I’m leaving out the “mastermind” here (not a weirdo), but I’d be surprised if you didn’t work that one out yourself very quickly. Heck, even I did, and I’m normally shite at spotting the killer in mystery dramas. (Unless it’s the formulaic NCIS: see “Chekhov’s Gunman“.)

This week, I’ve heard comments about The Bodyguard being mediocre, and I thought nah, they just don’t like the idea of famous singer/actress falling for her bodyguard (and the other way around), but I agree. It’s not a particularly good film. It’s too long, too dull and Rachel was annoying to the point where I thought Farmer should just call it a day and let her get assassinated, as she’s so hell-bent on not following his directions anyway. I liked Fletcher, up until the Boating Incident. Why do kids in films always have to do Stupid Shit for No Reason when they are Old Enough to Know Better?

Oh well. This film could have been a lot better, but alas, it was rather wooden and nothing short of an excuse for Whitney Houston to sell more albums. I’m not denying the fact that she was a beautiful and very talented woman with a fantastic singing voice … I’m just saying The Bodyguard as a film isn’t particularly good. Even the romance felt very meh, and that’s why I wanted to watch it in the first place!

2 out of 5 security cameras.

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