1992, R, 129 min. Directed by Mick Jackson. Starring Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston, Gary Kemp, Bill Cobbs, Ralph Waite.
REVIEWED By Pamela Bruce, Fri., Nov. 27, 1992
Rumored to have been rife with personality clashes and other assorted problems during its production, this film emerges as perhaps one of the most unbearable viewing experiences of the year, complete with a formulaic script, lousy acting, and muddled direction. Mr. Monotone Costner (who also unfortunately co-produced this film), is a hotshot Secret Service Agent whose arrogant claim to fame is that Ronald Reagan would never have been shot that fateful day in 1981 if he had been on duty. Now retired, Costner reluctantly becomes the bodyguard of self-absorbed pop diva Rachel Marron (aka Houston in a thinly disguised role as herself) because she is being stalked by a crazed fan who sends her threatening letters, obscene drawings, and exploding black Barbie dolls. The stalker escalates his activities when Marron/Houston is nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress (which is highly ironic considering that Houston is woefully unable to extend her “acting” abilities beyond a soft-focused, sultry pout). And of course, along the way, Costner and Houston's characters take the time to fall in love and into bed with one another. Wait a minute -- these two characters are supposed to be in love?! The only chemistry that Costner and Houston are able to generate with one another is something akin to the tension between two pieces of plywood propped together in a soggy drizzle. With the non-existent romantic chemistry between the main characters, coupled with the sparsely sprinkled suspense of the stalker plot, most of the narrative falls into The Boredom Zone faster than a lead balloon -- much to the agony of the viewer. That is, until the last 30 minutes of the film when it tries to re-energize itself and get back on track, yet only manages to become a predictable, herky-jerky mess where Cape Fear meets Sam Peckinpah meets Casablanca. The Bodyguard is one of Lawrence Kasdan's (Grand Canyon, Body Heat, The Big Chill) earliest screenplays, and he supposedly waited nearly 20 years to have it produced. Too bad. It should have stayed on the shelf collecting dust instead.