The Sentinel (12A)



Thriller (2006)
108mins US

Starring: Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria, Kim Basinger
Director: Clark Johnson
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Secret service agent Pete Garrison is having an illicit affair with the First Lady, Sarah Ballentine. When one of the agents guarding the President is murdered, insiders fear an assassination attempt on the premier and Garrison becomes the prime suspect. Tensions within The White House boil over as the corridors of power echo with political and personal intrigues, while Garrison comes under close scrutiny from fellow agent Breckinridge. On the run for his life, Garrison uses all of his training to unmask the mole within the White House, aided by his one-time protege Jill Marin.

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LondonNet Film Review

The Sentinel
The hallowed corridors of The White House have seen their fair share of power brokering and murderous deception in recent years on the big screen...

THE SENTINEL. Copyright: Twentieth Century FoxMurder At 1600 with Wesley Snipes; In The Line For Fire and Absolute Power both starring Clint Eastwood; Thirteen Days dramatizing events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The subterfuge continues in The Sentinel, a political thriller concerned with a traitor in the close-knit ranks of the US Secret Service - those fiercely patriotic, highly trained men and women in charge of guarding the President and the First Lady.

Screenwriter George Nolfi works closely from the novel by Gerald Petievich, attempting to conceal the identity of the mole until the final frame. Unfortunately, the unmasking of the guilty culprit comes as no surprise whatsoever; what does astound is that such a powerful and well-equipped government agency could miss what is staring it in the face.

Director Clark Johnston brings nothing distinctive to his pivotal role behind the camera - the pacing is leaden, the action sequences (if you can call them that) plodding.

At the centre of the mystery is respected Secret Service agent Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas), a veteran of some 20 years who famously took a bullet for the President. He now spearheads the team assigned to guard the First Lady, Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger), with whom he is embroiled in an illicit affair.

Out of the blue, trusted informant Xavier (Raynor Scheine) makes contact with Garrison with unbelievable news: there is a double agent within the corridors of the White House plotting an assassination attempt on The President (David Rasche).


Garrison's hot-headed protege David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland) leads the far-reaching internal investigation. The evidence seems to point to Garrison - "I am being framed," he protests loudly. With his innocence in doubt, Garrison is forced to go on the run, using his years of experience to unmask the real mole, with Breckinridge and co. in hot pursuit.

Thankfully, Garrison has an ally within the Secret Service: young agent Jill Marin (Eva Longoria) who trained under him at the Academy, graduating second in her class.

The Sentinel maintains a languid pace, never threatening to set our pulses racing as Garrison risks life, or at least running short of breath, to clear his name. The film refuses to explain how Xavier manages to uncover the covert assassination plot against the President.

It is equally unlikely that Garrison and the First Lady could continue an affair without arousing the suspicions of other agents, especially since their liaisons are far from discreet. Douglas brings a modicum of gravitas to his underwritten hero while Sutherland plays a watered down version of his signature role as Jack Bauer on the television series 24. Basinger looks absolutely stunning; so much so, Douglas looks old enough to be her father during their passionless clinch. Both actors take a deep breath and go through the motions - rather like Johnson's film.

- Heather VonBourne


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