Bodyguards often have the most interesting stories and they take pride in telling them, so it’s no surprise that a documentary like Jaren Hayman’s Bodyguards: Secret Lives from the Watchtower exists. It’s more than possible for a filmmaker to scrounge up enough material to provide a riveting peek into this line of work.
Hayman does, in fact, find plenty of insight from four main protection agents: Guardian Security’s Anton Kalaydjian (who has protected hip hop artists 50 Cent and T-Pain among others), Whitey Bulger’s right-hand man Kevin Weeks, Rory Steyn (who was a team lead when protecting Nelson Mandela), and Mikey Arana’s work relationship/friendship with popstar Justin Bieber. The doc occasionally focuses on other related content, such as training sessions at Atlas Tactical and a female-driven security service based in the UK. Kim Coates (Goon, TV’s Sons of Anarchy) narrates the film using his identifiable scratchy pipes.
Bodyguards: Secret Lives from the Watchtower is split up into three chapters: introductions start the film, followed by scenes of the guards in action, and topped off by nuanced reflections. As much as that sounds like a deep study of security, Bodyguards doesn’t dish out psychological, ponderous ideas. The film is solely here to suck the viewer into peculiar, dangerous tales of loyal bravery.
It’s slight and slick, but Jaren Hayman’s doc does satisfy an audience’s interest. The documentarian, however, has trouble transitioning from pop culture icons to history with heavier meaning. There’s such a coarse clash between the Bieber and Bulger bits, it feels like we’re watching a TV edit of Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger on MTV. Instead of appealing to the cut-and-dry mood and tone of each story’s profile, Hayman should’ve found his own consistent style that he could use to acknowledge the common areas while also considering the versatility of his interviews.
Bodyguards: Secret Lives from the Watchtower may often resemble an excessive, macho reality program that would air on the testosterone-heavy SPIKE TV, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an audience for this sort of entertaining glimpse.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie