Saturday 1 October 2022

Movie Review: The Bodyguard (1992)

A woman-in-danger thriller and romance, The Bodyguard enjoys megawatt star power but suffers from sloppy plotting.

Ex-Secret Service agent and now private bodyguard Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is considered the best in the business. He reluctantly agrees to provide protection to superstar chanteuse and movie actress Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston), who is receiving death threats. Frank finds Rachel's life chaotic and security lax, and proceeds to add cameras and fencing at her estate. He also meets Rachel's young son Fletcher and sister Nicki, publicist Sy (Gary Kemp), long-term manager Devaney (Bill Cobbs), burly bodyguard Tony (Mike Starr), and chauffeur Henry.

Rachel and Frank are initially hostile to each other, but she initiates a seduction and they sleep together, disrupting his job focus. As the death threats continue and turn to acts of violence, Rachel is nominated for an Oscar, and Frank has to sort out friend from foe with the lavish Academy Awards ceremony approaching.

The teaming of hot Hollywood star Kevin Costner with music charts diva Whitney Houston ensures bedazzlement. Costner effectively delivers his stoic quiet-man-with-a-past persona (Frank blames himself a bit for failing to prevent the Reagan shooting). In her film debut Houston is a hesitant actress, but deploys her extraordinary voice to belt out hits like I Have Nothing (used as a slogan by Rachel's predator), thumping dance tune Queen of the Night, I'm Every Woman, Run to You, and the eternal I Will Always Love You. To director Mick Jackson's credit, the songs are used judiciously and don't interfere with the flow.

Lawrence Kasdan's script has just enough fragments of interest to build momentum, but Jackson does struggle to justify the 129 minutes of running time. The chemistry between Costner and Houston is tepid at best, not helped by an emotionally psychotic romance scripted to switch between mushiness and hostility every 15 minutes. An interlude in the country at the cottage of Frank's father manages to be obtrusive, incongruous, and incoherent, backfiring in all sorts of nonsensical directions.

Kasdan does capture the chaos of a music star's life and surrounds Rachel with a long list of jealous or conceited suspects, encouraging a guess-the-villain game. The reveals take too long to arrive within a bad combination of blurted confession and faceless depravity, although a suitably chaotic final act at the Academy Awards ceremony injects frazzled energy. The Bodyguard brings out the big guns, but demonstrates wayward aim.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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