Dec 02, 2016 02:47 PM EST

Forget Kevin Costner - These Bodyguards Are The Real Deal!

Forget Kevin Costner - These Bodyguards Are The Real Deal!
When you think of the term bodyguard, what comes to mind?  For me, it's big, burly, muscular guys with a scowl on their faces who protect famous people and act as the "heavy" with fans - a lot of brawn and not so much brain.  Or, occasionally, I think of Kevin Costner taking control of Whitney Houston's life while she sings about always loving yooooooou.  The reality is, while most bodyguards do fit the stereotypes I mentioned above, there is a whole other side to the job that not many people know or understand.  Writer/Director/Producer Jaren Hayman (The Alpacing Dead) takes a look at some of the people who serve as bodyguards and their unique skill sets in his documentary, Bodyguards: Secret Lives from the Watchtower.

Hayman's unique approach to the subject matter gives the audience some real insight from the beginning and breaks the stereotypical perception of what a bodyguard should be.  While he starts off with the typical muscular guy who guards musical artists, he quickly follows it up with international, tactical bodyguards protecting dignitaries, and Kevin Weeks, the muscle behind notorious mobster Whitey Bulger.  All of his subjects offer their unique perspectives behind the world of being a bodyguard.

Hayman has chosen to break the film into three sections or "chapters".  The first is an introduction to the various types of bodyguards, the second is an in-depth look at their lives, work, strategies and aggravations and the last chapter is a wrap up of each of the stories presented.  This original take on documentary filmmaking helps the film to flow instead of being choppy and presenting one story at a time.  Unfortunately, it also makes it just a tad bit more confusing instead of presenting each person as a whole.

One of the strengths of the movie is the caliber of subject matter presented.  Hayman speaks to people at the top of their field who are highly successful and sought after by those they protect.  Anton Kalaydjian owns the largest company in the United States and includes 50 cent among his clients.  He has been shot while protecting clients and as he has worked his way up over more than 10 years in the field to become a success.  Kevin Weeks worked for Whitey Bolger and the mob.  Over 20 years, he assisted in a number of murders, as well as other crimes, and spent years in jail after becoming a witness against Bolger and leading authorities to where five bodies had been buried.

Hayman also speaks to members of Nelson Mandela's security team during a tumultuous time in South African History.  They not only share stories of the individual but also his policies that helped end racism from the inside out including having black and white members of his security work together despite their apprehension.  He interviews Mike Arana, head of security for Justin Bieber, who explains the job is more than meets the eye, and how multitasking is a must in this field, and he speaks to members of shadow group military-like organization specializing in high-profile foreign clients.

One aspect Hayman makes sure to highlight is the human side of this job.  These individuals are all highly intelligent, yet somewhat lonely, and haunted by the task at hand.  Knowing one mistake can mean the difference between life and death not only for their clients but for them, they must be able to remain calm and think fast on their feet.  He also shows the sacrifices they make missing birthdays and holidays with their own families to do the job they love and that many feel they were born to do.

I gained some newfound respect for these people that choose to risk their lives for others and I felt Hayman showcased this in a very real and respectful manner.  The hour and a half is interesting and varied enough to keep audiences engaged while not coming off as "preachy" at all.  I feel the subject matter has mass appeal and is something we haven't seen before except in an overly dramatic, Hollywood fashion.  I also think Hayman could make this a recurring series and continue to update the audience on these people's lives and work. 

Bodyguards: Secret Lives from the Watchtower is available to see today in theaters as well as Digital HD.

Grade: B-

About Allison Skornick-Rose

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