The Bodyguard is a 1992 American romantic thriller film directed by Mick Jackson, written by Lawrence Kasdan, and starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. Costner stars as a former Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard who is hired to protect Houston's character, a music star, from an unknown stalker. Kasdan wrote the film in the mid-1970s, originally as a vehicle for Ryan O'Neal and Diana Ross.
The film was Houston's acting debut and was the second-highest-grossing film worldwide in 1993, making $411 million worldwide. The soundtrack became the best-selling soundtrack of all time, selling more than 45 million copies worldwide.
Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) is an Academy Award-nominated music superstar who is being stalked and sent death threats. Things get dangerously out of hand when a bomb disguised as a doll explodes in her dressing room. Rachel's manager, Bill Devaney (Bill Cobbs), seeks the services of a professional bodyguard, Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner), to protect her. He is a highly successful private bodyguard, mostly protecting corporate VIPs. Formerly he was a Secret Service agent who served as part of the presidential protection detail during two presidencies. Frank is reluctant to accept the offer to guard Rachel as he sees her as a spoiled diva who is oblivious to the threats against her life.
Frank's concerns are quickly realized when Rachel looks upon Frank as being paranoid and his extensive protection techniques as intrusive. Rachel's existing bodyguard Tony (Mike Starr) resents Frank's presence. But at a concert where Rachel is performing, a riot breaks out and Frank rescues her from danger. As a result, the two develop a closer relationship. Frank tries to remain professional, but the two sleep together. However, recognizing that this compromises his ability to protect his client, Frank breaks off their affair. Hurt, Rachel begins to defy Frank's painstaking security measures. She even goes as far as attempting to sleep with his former Secret Service colleague Greg Portman (Tomas Arana). But after she has personal contact with her stalker via a threatening phone call, Rachel realizes that she must put her trust in Frank ahead of her own desire for personal gratification. She finally recognizes the seriousness of the situation and cancels the rest of her tour.
Frank, Rachel, Rachel's driver Henry (Christopher Birt), Rachel's son Fletcher (DeVaughn Nixon), and her sister Nicki (Michele Lamar Richards) then travel to a large lakefront cabin in the mountains, the home of Frank’s father, Herb (Ralph Waite). The next day, Fletcher is almost killed when a bomb explodes inside the boat he rode moments before. After finding footprints around the cabin and sabotaged automobiles, Frank realizes that Rachel's stalker has followed them. After securing the house for the night, Frank learns that Rachel's obsessive stalker and the person trying to kill her are not the same person. Angry and drunk, Nicki admits that during a drug-induced fit of jealousy she hired a hitman to kill Rachel, but that the letters from the stalker came before that. However, she cannot call it off because she does not know the killer's identity.
Abruptly, the hitman breaks into the house and fatally shoots Nicki. Frank, who is armed with a semi-automatic pistol, ensures that his father has secured the rest of the group on the second floor. Upon tracking the killer and then pursuing him into the woods, Frank shoots but misses, allowing the shooter to escape capture. Frank learns the next day, from his Secret Service contacts, that they have apprehended the stalker and were interviewing him when Nicki was shot.
Frank and Rachel attend Nicki's funeral and then the Academy Awards ceremony, where Frank gives Rachel a panic button in the shape of a cross to immediately alert him to any trouble. A host of backstage technical issues hamper Frank's efforts to monitor the proceedings closely. During the actual show, Rachel freezes and runs offstage, angry at Frank for embarrassing her with overprotective measures. However, Rachel returns to the audience and is present when announced as the winner for Best Actress. As she comes toward the stage to accept the award, the hitman is revealed to be Portman. Frank notices Portman pointing a gun disguised as a camera at Rachel. As Portman prepares for the fatal shot, Frank runs on stage and leaps in front of Rachel, intercepting the shot. Once regaining his balance, he shoots Portman through his camera-gun, killing him. Frank is left wounded and Rachel calls for help—all the while urging him to stay with her.
Frank recovers from the shooting and goes to say goodbye to Rachel at the airport. After the plane starts to taxi, Rachel suddenly jumps out and runs to Frank for one last passionate kiss. The film ends with a scene from Frank's next assignment—protecting a mob-fighting U.S. congressman—where a priest, using the emergency cross earlier given to Rachel, provides a solemn benediction as the lawmaker's new bodyguard keeps a watchful eye.
The Bodyguard received mixed to negative reviews from film critics. As of February 2018, the film holds a 35% rating on the film aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus, "The Bodyguard is a cheesy, melodramatic potboiler with occasional moments of electricity from Whitney Houston." It received seven Golden Raspberry Award nominations, including Worst Picture. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly reviewed the film negatively, stating, "To say that Houston and Costner fail to strike sparks would be putting it mildly." He added that "the movie gives us these two self-contained celebrity icons working hard to look as if they want each other. It's like watching two statues attempting to mate." Other critics were more mixed or positive, including Roger Ebert, who praised the film and gave it three out of four stars, remarking, "The movie does contain a love story, but it's the kind of guarded passion that grows between two people who spend a lot of time keeping their priorities straight."
Two songs from the film, "Run to You" and "I Have Nothing", were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The soundtrack was also nominated for four Grammy Awards, winning three, including Album of the Year for its album of the same name. The film was nominated for several MTV Movie Awards, an Image Award, BMI Film & TV Awards, a Golden Screen Award in Germany and an Award of the Japanese Academy, according to the Internet Movie Database.
In the United States, The Bodyguard opened on November 25, 1992 in 1,717 theaters; it grossed $16.6 million in its opening weekend, ranking third. The film was in theaters for thirteen non-consecutive weeks, ultimately grossing $121.9 million domestically, and $410.9 million worldwide. It was the seventh highest-grossing film of 1992 in North America, and the second highest-grossing film of 1992, worldwide. At the time, it was one of the top 100 highest-grossing films of all time, but it has since been overtaken by other films.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album became the best-selling soundtrack of all time. It has been certified diamond in the United States (sales of at least ten million) with shipments of over 17 million copies. Worldwide, the sales are over 45 million copies. In addition, Houston's cover of "I Will Always Love You" sold 12 million units worldwide.
The soundtrack features five songs which were hit singles for Houston: "I Will Always Love You", "I'm Every Woman" (a cover of the Chaka Khan song), the two Oscar-nominated songs, "I Have Nothing" and "Run to You", and "Queen of the Night".
Other artists who appear on the soundtrack include fellow Arista recording artists Kenny G ("Even if My Heart Would Break", a duet with Aaron Neville), Lisa Stansfield ("Someday I'm Coming Back") and Curtis Stigers ("What's so Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding"). Also included is a cover of the Bill Withers standard "Lovely Day".
In 2011, Warner Bros. announced a remake that will update the story to reflect the world of the Internet; in which sites such as Twitter, Google Maps and other sites make access to celebrities easier than ever. The remake will be penned by Jeremiah Friedman and Nick Palmer. Singer Rihanna was once sought to play the role of Rachel.
On March 10, 2011, Rihanna ruled out playing the part, saying "Absolutely not. I hate it when singers do singing movies all the time, because you can never look at them as anybody else. I want to play a character. My whole life is playing Rihanna; being a singer won't be a stretch for me."
A musical adaptation of the film opened in London's Adelphi Theatre in the West End in Fall 2012. David Ian, who produces the musical, received the stage rights from Costner, a producer of the film as well as its star, and Kasdan, who wrote the film, reports Baz Bamigboye. The film's famous soundtrack is used as a score for the production. In addition to the mega-hit "I Will Always Love You", the songs include "I'm Every Woman", "Run to You", "Jesus Loves Me", and "Queen of the Night". Several of Houston's other songs are used as well, including "I'm Your Baby Tonight", "How Will I Know", and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)". Tony Award-winning actress and singer Heather Headley was cast to play Rachel, the role played in the film by Houston. MOBO Award-winning and BRIT-nominated singer Beverley Knight took over Rachel in September 2013 through to May 2014; she was replaced by Alexandra Burke in June 2014, who was then replaced by Grammy award winning R&B singer Deborah Cox.