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"The Sentinel"

Directed by Clark Johnson.
Written by George Nolfi.  Based on the novel by Gerald Petievich.
Starring Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria and Kim Basinger.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  4/23/06


"The Sentinel" stars Michael Douglas as long-time Secret Service agent Pete Garrison.  Garrison, who saved Reagan's life back in the early '80s and is the second-in-command on the current President's security detail, has got a couple of problems as he negotiates the fall session:  he's banging the prez's wife (Kim Basinger) on the schneid and, oh yeah, an old informant has just given him the heads-up that someone in the Secret Service is planning to assassinate the President.  After handing the latter case off to his long-time understudy in an internal affairs-like group within the Secret Service named David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), Breckinridge and new partner Jill Marin (Eva Longoria) uncover evidence that fingers Garrison as the guy most likely in charge of the coup.  We all know that Garrison's being framed, but by who?  Why?  Why not?

Yep, you guessed it:

"Jack Bauer is Jack Bauer in 'Jack Bauer 2: The Sentinel!!!'"

While the actual story for "The Sentinel" is interesting and at times, fairly tense, the movie is hurt by the presence of Sutherland...not as a bad actor, but as an actor playing a character that is VERY similar to his current TV role as CTU agent Bauer on "24."  This, combined with a suspect so obvious I couldn't believe I had to wade through almost 90 minutes of footage for the filmmakers to tell us what we already knew, drags the production down to mediocrity.

I love director Clark Johnson's work; the long-time TV director has worked on shows like "Homicide", "The Wire" and "The Shield", and he always seems to do pacing and action staging in a realistic, engaging fashion.  The real strengths of "The Sentinel" come in watching the main players go through their business with a realistic amount of thoroughness; later, when the coup is uncovered and bodies start to get lit up, shootouts are done in a manner where one believes that people needed actual training to get out of a variety of close-quarter combat situations, a strength that Johnson also exhibited in the so-so Sam Jackson flick "S.W.A.T." a couple of years ago.

The one-note performance of Longoria--it becomes almost comical as other characters react to her based solely on her looks--doesn't make me believe a special career lies ahead, but there's no doubting she adds that extra something to the movie; D.C. serves as the main location for the film and it felt like people actually researched locations and commute times between locations, unlike most films I see about this town.  The production as a whole is pretty slick, so even if you have already figured out who the mole is at least you will enjoy jumping through the hoops to get there.

"The Sentinel" isn't bad, but the casting of Sutherland ultimately hurts this film.  It also would have helped to have a twistier storyline, but as pre-summer movie entertainment at least it goes down easy.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09