A hit that was met with mixed reviews from critics, "The Bodyguard" is notable for the acting debut of Whitney Houston, whose efforts on the film's soundtrack also resulted in one of the most popular soundtracks ever. The picture stars Houston as diva Rachel Marron, a singer whose recent acting and singing work has propelled her to stardom.
The diva's people decide they need help in protecting her, and hire Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) an ex-Secret Service agent who doesn't usually take on celebrities. However, once he's introduced to her, he decides to take on the assignment and immediately tightens security around the diva's house and keeps a close eye on her every movement, much to her dismay.
Although the two start off at odds with one another, it's no surprise that the two eventually start to fall for each other. Frank still stays at her side, trying to stop aggressive fans and keeping his eye out for the stalker as Rachel promotes and performs her work. Finally, Rachel is set to attend the Academy Awards, but will this be the time that Frank really needs to jump into action?
Lawrence Kasdan's screenplay had reportedly been making the Hollywood rounds for years, and it feels that way. The concept and dialogue often feel rather dated (even then, but especially so now), yet the picture somehow works better than it should. Costner and Houston don't offer particularly great performances of their own, but the two together do have fine chemistry with one another. Costner does the wooden Secret Service thing superbly, while Houston doesn't have to stretch much to play the diva.
Still, while the picture is moderately compelling at times, the picture could have stood a good 15-20 minutes of editing. Once the picture gets into the rhythm of performance-rescue-romance-performance-rescue-romance it gets a tad repetitive. Overall, it's a comfortable, predictable thriller that works fairly well due to two performances that aren't that stellar on their own, but seem pretty solid when paired together.
VIDEO: The original release of "The Bodyguard" presented the film in a pan & scan 1.33:1 presentation. For this new edition of the film, the film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the film's original aspect ratio. The results are fine - presenting the film in a satisfactory,if not remarkable, manner. The film is intentionally shot with a "soft" look, which looks noticably soft here. Detail is alright, but fine details are not often visible.
The picture doesn't suffer from any edge enhancement, but slight specks and marks were occasionally spotted on the print used. A couple of minor traces of pixelation were also spotted once or twice. Colors looked warm and well-saturated, with no smearing.
SOUND: "The Bodyguard" is presented here in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack, with few exceptions, is largely front-heavy. The surrounds did kick in once or twice for a sound effect or some ambience, but the rears were otherwise silent. Audio quality was fine, but not noteworthy - music and sound effects remained clear, but lacked fullness and a dynamic feel. Dialogue remained natural and easily understood.
EXTRAS: I seem to recall there being a commentary announced for this release, but there's only one documentary (the 26-minute retrospective "Memories of the Bodyguard") included. We also get the "I Will Always Love You" music video and the film's trailer. For some reason, Amazon.com lists this as a "Two-Disc Special Edition", but there is no second disc included.
Final Thoughts: It seems even a little more dated and corny now, but "The Bodyguard" still works moderately well, despite its flaws. This new Special Edition release doesn't provide much in the way of supplements, but audio/video quality is fine. Recommended for fans or those looking to upgrade to an anamorphic widescreen presentation from the original pan & scan effort.
The Film ** 1/2