Desperate Whitehouse Agents
You could say that "The Sentinel" is Michael Douglas trying to do a Clint Eastwood with a role which sees him playing a secret service agent who is on the case of a plot to assassinate the President. You could also say that "The Sentinel" is a movie which tries to capitalize on the popularity of Kiefer Sutherland in "24" with a character which sees Sutherland delivering on his action hero persona. And for those who enjoy watching the beautiful Eva Longoria in "Desperate Housewives" can watch the beautiful Eva Longoria in this. But one thing you can say about "The Sentinel" is that it is style over substance with action scenes being the thing which really grabs you rather than the storyline which whilst not poor is neither hugely engrossing.
Secret Service Agent Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas - It Runs in the Family) has been part of the Presidential Protection detail for a long time and it has lead to him becoming very close to current First Lady Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger), in fact too close as they are having an affair. But when another agent is murdered Pete discovers that there is assassination plot with a Secret Service Agent involved. With everyone a suspect Pete ends up failing a lie detector test, trying to hide his affair and in doing so becomes the main suspect in the assassination plot. Forced to go on the run whilst trying to clear his name and work out who is behind the plot he also has to deal with his protege, Agent Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland - Ground Control) who dislikes Pete ever since he thought he was having an affair with his wife.
Now whilst "The Sentinel" is a movie which is style over substance I actually like the storyline because it builds in a nice simple way. We go from Pete having an affair to going on the run when he fails a Polygraph test, we have another agent who Pete mentored having issues with him and heading the team who are hunting him down plus of course the assassination plot. All these things link together nicely, maybe not in the most believable away but throwing up some interesting perspectives such as how do the Secret Service get Pete when he is the man who has trained them and knows the playbook of moves inside out.
The trouble is that whilst it strings all of these elements together nicely "The Sentinel" feels so familiar that there is little too surprise you. And as such it becomes a movie less about whether or not Pete will clear his name in time to save the President but the way he goes about it. As such we have Pete sneaking around, bypassing alarm systems, following bad guys etc etc and whilst all of this is entertaining it is the same sort of thing you see in 100s of other action dramas. And it won't come as a surprise when I say that all of this means we get various chase scenes before a big action finale.
It is very much a case that "The Sentinel" trades on the action, the escapades of Pete rather than anything else and so whilst we have back stories such as David Breckinridge total dislike of Pete as he believes he had an affair with his wife, the depth of these back stories are shallow at best. And whilst I am sure many will enjoy the whole action side of things I find myself wishing that the relationships were explored a little more deeply. The whole element of Pete having taken a bullet when he protected President Reagan could have been played on more as could the relationship between the President and his wife, well she is having an affair with Pete.
Now as "The Sentinel" ends up feeling like a familiar story the performances also feel familiar. Michael Douglas delivers that touch of older Secret Service agent surrounded by younger men and women, but we also have what you could call a stereotypical Douglas character, well he does have an affair and get it on with the First lady. In a similar way we have Kiefer Sutherland delivering something we have seen him before as he runs around with gun in hand, shouting. The thing is that whilst the characters and performances are nothing new both Douglas and Sutherland deliver them well. And to be honest whilst "The Sentinel" also features Eva Longoria and Kim Basinger it is a movie all about Douglas and Sutherland being action men.
What this all boils down to is that "The Sentinel" is entertaining but it is nothing new or special, just a well put together action thriller which features an assassination attempt and a good guy on the run, trying to clear his name.