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The Bodyguard

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Bodyguard

Starring: Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston
Director: Mick Jackson
Rated: R
RunTime: 129 Minutes
Release Date: November 1992
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Gary Kemp, Bill Cobbs, Ralph Waite, Tomas Arana, Michele Lamar Richards, Mike Starr, Gerry Bamman, Robert Wuhl

Review by Dragan Antulov
2 stars out of 4

What happens when Hollywood pairs one of its hottest male stars with one of the hottest pop divas, hoping to cash on the "hot" soundtrack as well as at the box-office? This odd combination sometimes can end as complete disaster, but sometimes it can create huge gap between snobbish critics and general audience. While the critics usually cut those films to little pieces due to their more than obvious commercial nature, general audience might (and often does) succumb to clever advertising campaigns and flock to the theatres. One of such examples is THE BODYGUARD, 1992 romantic thriller directed by Mick Jackson, film that was both immensely popular and passionately panned by the critics.

The plot of this film is based on the script by Lawrence Kasdan, originally written in 1975 with stars like Steve McQueen and Diana Ross in mind. The protagonist is Frank Farmer (played by Kevin Costner), former Secret Service agent who turned to private sector and began working as a private bodyguard for various wealthy customers. His next potential client is Rachael Marron (played by Whitney Houston), pop diva recently being targeted by mysterious but very determined and potentially dangerous stalker. Farmer reluctantly accepts the job and soon the friction arises between him and the diva. While Farmer, as professional, tries to provide the best possible protection by imposing new, tighter and often unpleasant security measures, Marron doesn't want to alter her lifestyle or jeopardise her popularity by limiting her public appearances. But this isn't the only thing that creates tensions in the relationship between Farmer and Marron - two of them soon discover that they are attracted to each other. While their relationship becomes more romantic, the stalker is getting much closer.

At first sight, THE BODYGUARD looks just like another "high concept" product of Hollywood - genre combination of straightforward thriller and old-fashioned romance that employs all the cliches of their respective genres. So, two lovers start their relationship by despising each other, after more than obvious red herrings identity of the chief villain is telegraphed in the middle of film, while the finale provides spectacular, but ridiculously unbelievable assassination attempt. However, THE BODYGUARD manages to work very well within those limitations, mostly due to Kasdan's script being based more on the characters than on the weak story. Relatively unknown director Mick Jackson deliberately chooses slow pace and thus allows more room for character development, as well as for Kasdan to give some of his observations on the nature of fame and celebrity in modern world. The main dramatic conflict in this film - between Farmer's desire to keep Rachael safe at any cost and Rachael's desire to stay in public spotlight at any cost - is a dilemma which is very real for many of our world's celebrities. On one hand, their livelihoods depend on the media exposure, while, on the other hand, exposure is certain to bring unwanted attention and make them targets of various dangerous individuals. Five years later with the deaths of Gianni Versace and Princess Diana, the general public became aware of the dilemma presented in this film.

The acting in THE BODYGUARD is very good. Kevin Costner, obviously aware for whom the role has been originally made, puts a lot of effort into his Steve McQueen impersonation and the result is more than impressive. Whitney Houston, on the other hand, has a somewhat easier job of playing character in many ways similar to herself and therefore doesn't have to display acting talent. The supporting cast is also good, especially Michele Lamar Richards as Rachael's sister and it is refreshing to see Mike Starr playing a nice guy for a change. The original music soundtrack by Alan Silvestri is also good, but hardly anyone will remember it, unlike Whitney Houston's songs that play throughout the whole film. Finally, the ending of the film, which is both realistic and unconventional for standard Hollywood products, leaves us with much better impression of THE BODYGUARD as entertaining little film, much better than its initial reputation.

Copyright 2002 Dragan Antulov

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