Bodyguard: Film Review

Dumb even for a Salman Khan film, Bollywood’s "Bodyguard" will nevertheless attract legions of fans of the formula.

South Indian filmmaker Siddique remakes his own 2010 Malayalam film into a Bollywood film that is pure formula.

EMERYVILLE, Calif. -- When a Pune millionaire comes to know that bad guys are after his daughter Divya, he calls for protection. And not just any old rent-a-cop, this is a job for the best -- one Lovely Singh (Salman Khan), India’s most honest, heroic and no-nonsense bodyguard.

Formidable in his tight uniform and shades, a Bluetooth permanently stuck in his ear, Lovely may have a delicate name, but he’s solid steel, capable of dispatching bad guys by the dozen in long, slo-mo, lovingly choreographed fight scenes. Will Lovely fall for the comely Divya (Kareena Kapoor)? If you can’t guess the answer to that, you need a copy of “Bollywood for Dummies.”

Khan fans will flock to Bodyguard, which has three big factors working in its favor — an Eid release, a South Indian pedigree (the film is directed by Siddique, remaking his own 2010 Malayalam film), and the presence of Khan, India’s number-one box office draw, fresh off the success of the escapist actioners Wanted, Dabanggand Ready.

In Bodyguard, Khan seems to have a tongue-in-cheek awareness of his major strengths — able comic timing and a cartoonishly muscular physique — and in case that’s not obvious enough, he flexes his biceps to the beat in the film’s opening song and literally winks at the camera.

And then there’s The Chest. Shaven, oiled, toned, rippling, Khan’s chest is a miracle of nature, and he is known for dramatically ripping off his shirt in nearly every film, with Bodyguardno exception.

But even though Khan seems to be in on the joke, director Siddique seems to be taking it all too seriously. Siddique expects the viewer to hold on tight through Bodyguard’s vertigo-inducing fluctuations in tone: one minute, villains are menacing Divya in a night club (in the film’s one genuinely suspenseful scene), and the next, a spurned lover weeps as if in a Shakespearean tragedy. Then comes a fat-guy-in-drag joke; yet another Matrix-inspired, bloody, marathon fight scene; followed by song, song more fat jokes, plot twist and a romantic last scene on a train.

As with many Hindi films remade from South Indian hits, Bodyguardboasts impressive if overly stylized camera work. It also boasts excellent music — a sophisticated background score by Sandeep Shirodkar, and songs by Himesh Reshammiya and Pritam.

But overall, while those inured to the conventions of the so-called masalaentertainer genre will enjoy putting the pieces of the formula together, Bodyguardwon’t win any new fans.

Opened: Aug. 31 (Reliance BIG Pictures)
Production company: Reel Life Production
Cast: Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Asrani, Reema Debnath, Mahesh Manjrekar, Raj Babbar, Hazel Keech, Rajat Rawail
Director/screenwriter: Siddique
Producers: Atul Agnihotri, Alvira Khan
Executive producer: Nikhil Namit
Director of photography: Sejal Shah
Production designers: Shailesh Mahadik, Angelica Monica Bhowmick
Music: Himesh Reshammiya, Pritam
Background score: Sandeep Shirodkar
Costume designers: Alvira Agnihotri, Ashley Rebello, Manish Malhotra
Editor: Sanjay Sankla
Unrated, 135 minutes