Never let your guard down.
Never fall in love."
A 1992 film starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. Costner plays former Secret Service agent and freelance bodyguard Frank Farmer, hired to protect superstar singer-turned-actress Rachel Marron (Houston) after she starts getting death threats. They initially dislike each other, but despite his better judgement, feelings start to develop between them.
Originally written by Lawrence Kasdan for Steve McQueen and Diana Ross in The '70s, the project was taken up by Costner fifteen years later, with Costner and Kasdan as producers and Mick Jackson as director. This film was a huge success, as was the soundtrack, which sold in the bazillions (it's widely considered to be the top selling movie soundtrack of all time), all fueled by the unbelievable popularity of Houston's rendition of "I Will Always Love You," originally by Dolly Parton from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. In addition, the movie's instrumental music was marvelously done by Alan Silvestri (and finally released on its own album a mere 21 years later). In 2013, the film headed to stage in the form of a Jukebox Musical featuring many of Houston's hits.
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Frank has a katana which cuts Rachel's scarf in half just by the scarf floating down onto the blade.
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: Rachel (played by Whitney Houston who was 29 at the time) is the mother of 8-year-old Fletcher. She looks very good for her age.
- Alliterative Name: Frank Farmer.
- Am I Just a Toy to You?: Rachel has this reaction when Frank expresses regrets after having sex with her. His reasoning is that as her bodyguard a sexual relationship would compromise his ability to protect her, but she’s still angry and hurt.
- And the Adventure Continues: In the end, Frank is again protecting a crusading politician.
- Award-Bait Song:
- "I Will Always Love You". It wasn't eligible for the Oscars (because it was originally written 20 years before by Dolly Parton), but Houston's version won the big two Grammys.
- In-Universe, Rachel's song "I've Got Nothing" gets an Academy Award nomination to Best Song and the climax of the film happens in the Awards, where Rachel wins.
- Badass Normal: Frank. Rachel even points this out when first interviewing him, saying that he doesn't look much like a bodyguard.
- Batman Cold Open: The movie opens right on Frank shooting dead a hitman sent after his previous client.
- The Big Damn Kiss: Frank and Rachel at the airport.
- Black Dude Dies First: When Henry, Rachel's chauffeur, reacts with incredulity that Frank's adding to his duties, Frank tells him that in his experience, when shit goes down, the client's usually okay. "Who gets shot? The cocky black chauffeur." That gets his attention.
- Bodyguard Crush: Rachel becomes smitten with Frank as the film goes on. Even when Frank moves on to another job, the moment before he does is Rachel deciding to Race for Your Love.
- Break the Haughty: Rachel starts the film as a diva who questions hiring a bodyguard. By the end of the film, she has been put through the wringer so hard that she spends most of the climax jumping at shadows (which actually saves her life, when she signals Frank that she thinks something is wrong... and it is). Nikki gets her moment as well when she finds out that she gave the order to kill Rachel to a Psycho for Hire willing to kill her nephew if that helps him kill Rachel.
- Bridal Carry: Frank carries Rachel this way when the crowd at her concert turns unruly.
- Briefcase Blaster: The weapon the hitman uses to try to kill Rachel at the climax is a pistol concealed within a camera, allowing him to pretend that he is one more of the many cameramen in the Academy Awards. Frank is still able to spot him Just in Time because the man still uses a Laser Sight for it.
- Cain and Abel: Rachel's sister Nikki was the one who put the hit on her in the first place.
- Chekhov's Gunman:
- During the Bridal Carry scene, a man who's later revealed to be the stalker blocks Frank's way only to be knocked down.
- Greg Portman seems to be just a guy that Rachel uses to make Frank jealous. In the end, he is revealed to be the hitman who tracks Rachel down.
- Conspicuously Public Assassination: The climax has Frank trying to stop Rachel from being killed by the hitman in one of the few places where the man is sure that she will appear no matter what: smack in the middle of the Academy Awards, while she is either reading the results of the nomination to best soundtrack or best actress.
- Cult Soundtrack: Whitney Houston really got a lot of moolah put of "I'll Always Love You". In-Universe, Rachel's song "I Have Nothing" made it to an Oscar nomination and wins it in the final act.
- Cut-and-Paste Note: Rachel's stalker sends her threatening messages made with newspaper clippings.
- Dance of Romance: Frank and Rachel share one on their date.
- Defeat Equals Friendship: Tony attacks Frank after Frank gets Rachel away without telling him. Frank's abilities in Good Old Fisticuffs and with throwing knives gets him to back down. Later in the film, it's shown that Tony is more than willing to listen to what Frank has to say and even points out Rachel's would-be-assassin to Frank at the Oscars.
- Determinator: The hitman refuses to surrender and tries to finish the contract even chasing Rachel to Frank's house in the mountains and trying to blow her away at the climax smack in the middle of the Academy Awards with no telling how the hell he plans to get away. Even after Frank takes a bullet for her and turns half of his face (eye included) into mulch via Scope Snipe, he still tries to shoot her until Frank finally pumps him full of lead.
- Did Not Get the Girl: The movie ends with Rachel and Frank parting ways after he successfully protects her from her would-be killer.
- Everyone Has Standards: Nikki is utterly horrified at finding out that the hitman she hired is willing to kill her nephew if that brings him any closer to fulfilling his contract.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Foster, a dog owned by Frank’s father Herb, guards Rachel’s room each night while she’s staying at Herb’s cabin. Foster is the first to sense when there’s a hitman nearby and his growls alert Frank to the danger.
- Foreshadowing: A casual line at the beginning of the movie mentions that the hitman (a former Secret Service agent like Kevin Costner's character Frank Farmer) was interviewed and was "eager" for the job of guarding his future target.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Rachel's sister Nikki is envious of the former's success. It is later revealed that she hired a hitman to kill her. But even after she sours on the idea when the hitman turns out to be willing to kill Rachel's son to get close to her, there isn't much Nikki can do since she doesn't know who the hitman is.
- Heel–Face Door-Slam: Nikki tries to call off her hitman but he kills her.
- Heroic BSoD: Frank suffered one of these when Reagan got shot while he wasn't there. He went to his father's cabin for the next six months. Time heals all wounds, but he's still never really gotten over it.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Frank jumps in the way of the would-be assassin's bullet at the Academy Awards, preventing the shots from hitting Rachel. And then he kills the guy before finally succumbing to unconsciousness. He doesn't die, however.
- Irrevocable Order: The hitman's contract to kill Rachel, not only because Nikki was high on cocaine when she ordered it and thus doesn't knows who she asked it of, but because the hitman is a Psycho for Hire that refuses to stop even when Nikki is standing in front of him ordering him to (instead, he just kills her and escapes to try again). Another interpretation is that the hitman doesn't know who hired him either, as Nikki is Killed Mid-Sentence trying to explain.
- Ironic Echo: Played for Horror: Rachel's most recent song, which even got an Academy Award nomination, is titled "I Have Nothing". The stalker's letters go: "You've got everything. I've got nothing. And you're going to die for that."
- Knife Fight: Averted. As Tony keeps attacking Frank in a fit of jealous rage, he picks up a kitchen knife and motions Frank to start a knife fight with the one he is currently holding. Frank then ends the whole thing by throwing his knife to a wall right next to Tony's head, showing just how outclassed he is.
- Last-Name Basis: Rachel usually calls Frank "Farmer".
- Leit Motif: Rachel's song, "I Have Nothing", plays several times as background music, especially if there's news playing. Justified because the song has been nominated for an Academy Award and the event is a few days away, which means the press constantly plays snippets while talking about this.
- Locked Out of the Loop: When Frank first meets Rachel he quickly learns that she isn’t the person who hired him and doesn’t know there’s someone stalking her. Her team was withholding that information from her so she wouldn’t quit working, but she learns the truth anyway and is isn’t happy she wasn’t informed sooner.
- Later on Frank learns that it was Nikki who hired the hitman but he never tells Rachel to protect her feelings.
- Lonely Bachelor Pad: Frank is a bachelor married to his job. His house is sparsely decorated (there is just a katana on the wall) and has very little furniture.
- Lyrical Dissonance: While dancing with him to the country version of "I Will Always Love You", Rachel points out to Frank that the lyrics to the verses are quite sad, in contrast to the simple "I will always love you" statement in the chorus. He listens for a moment, and then chuckles and agrees, admitting he'd never noticed that before.
- Mama Bear: Rachel always puts the safety of her son Fletcher before her own. One notable example is when she finds out that someone broke into her house she worriedly asks if Fletcher was there at the time.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The stalker's antics lead Rachel's entourage to hire Frank, and later when the stalker contacts her personally it alarms her enough to start taking Frank's security advice serious. This all makes things much more difficult for the professional assassin who's actually trying to kill her.
- Operation: Jealousy: Rachel flirts with and leaves a party with one of Frank's former co-workers to spite him. She can't go through with sleeping with him, though.
- Orbital Kiss: Frank and Rachel have one of these in their last scene together.
- Properly Paranoid: This is pretty much Frank's main personality trait. Everyone else thinks he’s going too far with his security measures but every time he’s proven right.
- Red Herring: Several. Most prominently, the stalker who is constantly threatening to kill Marron via letters and calling her home? Not the assassin.
- Servile Snarker: Frank so very much.Rachel: [insists on jogging outside the mansion despite Frank's security concerns] You afraid I might get picked off in my snazzy running suit?
Frank: No, I'm afraid that I might have to jog with you.
- Something Only They Would Say: The stalker (when he calls the Marrons' home) says "no" in a very peculiar, drawn-out way. Which we hear again when he is arrested by the police and is being incorrectly accused of being the one trying to kill Rachel.
- Stalker with a Crush: DAN. And he's extremely creepy, to boot.
- The Stoic: Frank with a generous side of Deadpan Snarker.
- The Teetotaler: Frank while on duty. Lampshaded even.Rachel: So, can we get you anything?
Frank: Yeah, orange juice.
- Troll: Rachel jokingly asks Frank if he's so closed off because the woman he loved got killed. Frank doesn't laugh and solemnly gives her a vague answer about not winning them all. Rachel immediately sobers up and apologizes for prying in his love life. Cue a shit-eating grin from Frank.
- Truth in Television: The "I Will Always Love You" song is often requested at weddings, and the band or DJ has to inform the couple that it's a break-up song and not the best way to start off their marriage.
- Would Hurt a Child: The hitman places a bomb on the boat on Rachel's mountain home, which goes off and almost kills Rachel's son (Frank saves him Just in Time).
- Your Eyes Can Deceive You: When stalking the hitman through the woods at night, Frank closes his eyes and turns to fire at the sounds he's making. The shots strike close enough to drive him off, but they still miss. This is an actual blind-firing technique, based on the fact that your head instinctively turns towards a sound when you can't see.