I hadn't seen a Costner film in eons, and when I happened across THE BODYGUARD today, I knew what I'd be watching tonight. It came out close to two decades ago, which is pretty hard to believe, but somehow I'd never caught up with it.
Costner plays the title role, an ex-Secret Service agent whose latest assignment is guarding Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston), a temperamental singer-actress, and her 8-year-old son (DeVaughn Nixon). Although the bodyguard and his client initially clash, a powerful attraction develops between them which threatens to interfere with his job keeping her safe.
It's not particularly great drama in some respects; for instance, the culprit (or culprits?) is telegraphed pretty far in advance, and Houston's performance and character go a little over the top at times. But you know what? Despite the flaws, I really enjoyed the movie, and I actually liked that it was a bit predictable and not terribly nerve-wracking, although there were still plenty of suspenseful moments. It was relaxing, enjoyable entertainment, and that was plenty good enough for me.
I especially enjoyed Costner as Frank Fletcher, the button-down, all-business guard who still suffers pangs of guilt that he wasn't on duty to protect President Reagan the day he was shot. I enjoyed watching Frank's methodology and especially the relationship he develops with the cocky chauffeur (Christopher Birt), as well as the grudging respect that builds between Frank and Tony (Mike Starr), Rachel's original bodyguard who initially resents Frank stepping into the picture.
In my favorite section of the film, Frank takes Rachel and her family to stay with his father (Ralph Waite of THE WALTONS). This sequence, shot in the beautiful Lake Tahoe area, has a nice mix of low-key family togetherness, emotion, and suspense.
The supporting cast includes Michele Lamar Richards as Rachel's sister. Don't blink during the Academy Awards sequence, filmed at the Pantages Theatre, where Debbie Reynolds can be spotted in a funny cameo.
The movie was filmed all over Los Angeles, as well as at Joe Jost's, a very well-known bar which has been in Long Beach since 1924.
Speaking of local institutions, Kevin Costner spent part of his youth growing up in Orange County, where he attended California State University at Fullerton. Costner was the co-owner of the Clubhouse restaurant at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa until it closed down a couple years ago.
THE BODYGUARD was directed by Mick Jackson. It was written by Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote and directed the film in which Costner made his first big splash in 1985, SILVERADO.
The running time is 129 minutes.
Parental Advisory: This film is rated R for language. If the language was removed it would probably qualify for a straight PG rating, as the film is otherwise fairly tame.
THE BODYGUARD is available on widescreen DVD. It also had a VHS release.
It can also be seen via Amazon Prime streaming and Netflix Watch Instantly.