Synopsis: A former Secret Service agent takes on the job of bodyguard to a pop singer, whose lifestyle is most unlike a President’s.
Stars: Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston, Bill Cobbs, Gary Kemp
Director: Mick Jackson
Running Length: 129 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: With the February passing of Whitney Houston, I decided to go back and take another look at her star turn in The Bodyguard that introduced her as an actress and (re)introduced a song that would go on to become one of the most recognizable in the history of music.
The Bodyguard’s laborious journey to the screen started decades before Houston and Costner teamed up – in fact it was originally intended as a vehicle for Steve McQueen and then Ryan O’Neal and Diana Ross. I would have been quite interested indeed to see Ross playing opposite either of those two leading men. Costner has a very McQueen vibe to him so I’m sure it was natural to develop this project for him. Houston was red-hot at the time and the role of Rachel Marron on paper must have looked like a great fit. Ah…but once the cameras rolled would it be a success? The answer? Yes and No.
Yes I think the film is ultimately successful because it asks our actors to pretty much do the best they can with what they had to bring to the table. Houston is at her best when she’s unleashing that powerful voice on the now familiar tunes but she struggles when she has to play the vulnerability of the character. It’s not hard to see that she’s playing a version of herself that she may not totally have been comfortable showing. Costner too struggles with showing sensitivity – he’s best in the moments when he is dialogue free and all about getting down to business. Costner has traditionally been an actor that performs in earnest and here it doesn’t always work. Chemistry wise…it’s a failed experiment to pair these two together. While it’s clear they had a good working relationship, the sparks never fly like they should – had those flames been there I think the movie would have been taken to the next level. Some of that blame could fall on Garris for his haphazardly lazy direction.
In terms of plot, The Bodyguard seems to be working in several different places at once. Is it a drama or a suspense movie? Is there a difference between the stalker we see sending Rachel ominous notes and a killer hired to off her? Everyone seems to forget about the many balls they are juggling and when that happens a movie can spin out of control fast.
There are so many endings to the movie that it’s only when the credits roll that we know the film has wrapped up and is done with us. It also helps that the credits begin in time for Houston’s big note in ‘I Will Always Love You’…a moment that the movie seems to be working toward for the last thirty minutes of its run time.
A fascinating bit of trivia was the sequel Costner was said to have proposed to Princess Diana before her fatal car crash. All signs point to that sequel having been a definite possibility and I think the public would have gone crazy with curiosity to that pairing. Alas, it was not to be.
Twenty years after its first release people are looking at the movie anew due to Houston’s untimely death. Her contributions to the music world are unprecedented and even if her film work on The Bodyguard and subsequent pictures can’t hold a candle to that, it’s undeniable that she had a presence and poise not many people have…no matter how talented they are. In the past years there have been talks of remakes and even a stage musical announced to open in London later this year. It’s clear that The Bodyguard on film may be stuck in the 90’s but it’s the music that really will stand the test of time.