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Sentinel, The

Fox // PG-13 // April 21, 2006
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Allposters]

Review by Brian Orndorf | posted April 21, 2006 | E-mail the Author
Carrying on a torrid affair with the President's wife (Kim Basinger), elite Secret Service agent Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) has left himself open to trouble. When a madman promises to kill the President, Pete is framed during the investigation, forcing him to take off and find a way to clear his name. Hot on his trail are a disgruntled old colleague, David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), and his new partner (Eva Longoria), with both agents learning promptly just how cunning Pete is as they try to hunt him down for arrest.

With 2003's "S.W.A.T.," director Clark Johnson made a rollicking romp out of pure convention. Clark managed to rise above the film's television roots and give the paying crowd a thrill ride in unexpectedly assertive ways. While given the same ingredients for his latest, "The Sentinel," Johnson cannot whip up a similarly enticing feature film.

Part of the problems that plague "Sentinel" is the source material. Taken from a book, the film simply has too much story to tell for the small ambition it has to entertain. Early on, you can sense Johnson sweating bullets trying to keep his film alive and kicking as the screenplay struggles to arrange plot points for later payoff. Throwing in a shoot-out here and there to keep the juices flowing, "Sentinel" entertains, but never convinces. And you can chalk most of the film's appeal to Douglas and Sutherland, who make unexpectedly fine foes. The back and forth between the duo is good stuff. It's a shame they don't have more scenes together.

"Sentinel" takes an hour to fully ramp up, and once Pete goes on the lam, the picture begins to enjoy an energetic "Fugitive" vibe. Watching Pete unleash his inner MacGyver as he tracks down his enemies is where the story finds a pulse, and lets Douglas do what he does best: wrestle his way out of a corner. Unfortunately, the fun only last 30 minutes before the action lumbers to an obese grand finale.

Using his bag of tricks (what can I say, the man loves a zoom lens), Johnson can't quite get "Sentinel" up to speed fast enough, and the film suffers massively from inertia in exactly the wrong moments. The picture remains reliable thriller entertainment, but the genre is capable of greatness when given golden cinematic attention (such as "In the Line of Fire"), and "Sentinel" doesn't aim high enough. With Sutherland basically doing his "24" character, and the film's final twists resembling a bad television movie, "Sentinel" stays frustratingly grounded, ignoring its A-list pedigree.


For further online adventure, please visit brianorndorf.com

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