“The Bodyguard” (1992) Revisited

“What the fuck is this? The Kevin Costner Apology Blog?”

Yes.

Since becoming re-obsessed with Costner, I completely forgot about The Bodyguard. Sure, no one can forget the soundtrack. But like Goldeneye and Purple Rain, these were actual movies that get overshadowed by their accompanying video game or soundtrack. It’s also easy to forget that Costner had one HELL of a reign in Hollywood, albeit a brief one.

I was reminded of The Bodyguard while bored at work.  I began surfing YouTube. I watched a couple of interviews with Whitney Houston. Apparently the Houston/Costner relationship is stuff of internet lore. Naturally I nerded out when discovering this. The comments sections are loaded with speculation. What if Houston had left Bobby Brown for Costner? It’s one of the great “what ifs” in history. Would we still have Whitney Houston? We’ll never know. All we have is The Bodyguard. 

But is it a good movie?

Well….

It’s a solid movie. This is the problem with so so many 90’s flicks: nothing special stands out about them. The decade as a whole is pretty forgettable. In regards to The Bodyguard, it’s difficult to determine who is to blameIs it the fault of director Mick Jackson? Is it, dare I say, Lawrence Kasdan’s script? No one behind the camera goes above and beyond.

It was of course Whitney Houston’s acting debut, and they might’ve been trying to manage that. However, Houston and Costner did a pretty good job building chemistry with what little screen time they had together. That’s my biggest complaint: I didn’t feel that we got enough of that. I believed this strange romance between a “by the book” Costner and “life of the party” Houston.

Additionally, there were some great set-ups that never paid off: that crucifix-thing Costner gave Houston, Costner teaching the chauffeur how to do a 180 in a limo, etc. But the biggest disappointment came when Houston and Costner were dancing to the country version of “I Will Always Love You”. During this scene, Costner gets jumpy when a bunch of glass breaks in the background. Houston calms him by saying “I will protect you.” It was at that point, I was like “Holy shit! I thought this movie was called The Bodyguard because Costner was protecting Houston. Hence, he’s the bodyguard. But is it Houston that’s protecting Costner’s heart? Therefore, Houston is THE Bodyguard.” Suddenly I thought that this could be the greatest movie ever made. But they do NOTHING with this.

Opportunity missed.

Also, many of the characters within Houston’s entourage go missing for long stretches. These were pretty good characters too. I praised Costner’s direction when I revisited Dance With Wolves. No one in that movie goes to waste. So I’m always disappointed when I remember that he only directed three movies. He was a producer for The Bodyguard. If only Costner had sat in the directors chair here…..

The Academy Award scene was also surreal. Costner slayed at this awards show a year earlier. Now in this film, he’s running around wanting to shoot people. That’s pretty badass when you think about it. But as pretentious as he can sometimes be, I get the vibe that Costner genuinely dislikes Hollywood types. So I enjoyed this scene because it felt like Costner was subtly saying “fuck Hollywood.” But that might just be my own projection.

I also miss Whitney Houston. Those living through 1992 probably got tired of hearing “I Will Always Love You.” But that voice, at the opening of that song, during the scene on the tarmac…fuck me. One of the greatest voices of all time. And despite being her acting debut, her choices paid off. Although it’s a cliché at this point, when Houston is carried away by Costner, the look on her face is one of the greatest pieces of acting in cinema history.

I’ll stand by that.

But damn it, Costner. Audiences might’ve abandoned you, but I will always love you.

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