suspense DVD and movie reviews and previews from - curled up with a good dvd
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The Sentinel - suspense DVD review
The Sentinel rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 stars
Actors: Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria, Martin Donovan, Ritchie Coster
Director: Clark Johnson   Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD release: 29 Aug. 2006   Runtime: 108 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Subtitles (English, Spanish), Audio tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish, Dolby Digital 2.1 Surround; French, Dolby Digital 2.1 Surround), Commentary by Clark Johnson & screenwriter George Nolfi, Alternate ending & deleted scenes w/ alternate commentary by George Nolfi, "The Secret Service: Building on a Tradition of Excellence" & "In the President's Shadow: Protecting the President" featurettes

Based on Gerald Petievich's novel of the same name, the movie The Sentinel has what appears on paper to be the perfect mix for a good action/thriller: a timely script based on a novel, a cast that includes the legendary Michael Douglas, Eva Longoria fresh off the super-popular Desperate Housewives, and Kiefer Sutherland, who's been blowing away audience as Jack Bauer on Fox's 24 since it premiered in 2001. Oh, I might add that Kim Basinger is in this, as well.

So with all the quality actors and hot TV stars, what could go wrong? Nothing is glaringly bad. Put aside some stilted dialogue, comparisons to Clint Eastwood's In the Line of Fire, and the unexplained plot lines, and The Sentinel is an entertaining rental for sure. But - here's the big but - there is absolutely no chemistry between anyone throughout this entire movie, minus a couple of diatribes between Douglas and Sutherland.

The basic plot goes like this. Michael Douglas plays Pete Garrison, a veteran Secret Service agent who took a bullet during the attempt on Ronald Reagan's life in 1981. He is also having an affair with the president's wife, Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger). The movie opens with another agent needing to speak with Garrison, and the agent is found dead later that day. Might this agent have known about the assassination attempt? Ah, yes, the crux of the story; there seems to be a traitor within the Secret Service who might be involved in assassinating the president. Without giving too much away, everyone is required to take a lie detector test; needless to say, Garrison doesn't pass. Before you know it, David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), with agents in tow, is there to arrest Garrison for treason. But miracle of all miracles, Garrison escapes and manages to procure one of agents' weapons.

This is where the movie actually gets good. Though some will question how a sixty-something-year-old man can outwit and outrun the younger officers, I say "It's a movie, so suspend your disbelief," though the story is up for grabs depending on how deep you want to think. What The Sentinel does do well from midway until the end is action. Good chase scenes, good shoot-outs, and a little hand-to-hand combat thrown in for good measure.

It's this aspect that shifts the movie from being a complete bust to a decent piece of entertainment. Sure, Eva Longoria's character is pretty much useless (other than as eye candy). The dynamics between her and Sutherland's character is completely absent. The chemistry between Basinger and Douglas is less than null (they could go down in history as the least passionate couple ever), which makes the three stars of the movie pretty much lifeless character-wise. The only real tension is between Garrison and Breckinridge, who thinks Garrison had an affair with his wife.

The Sentinel is an enjoyable, entertaining movie with good action and a good cast, though so much more could have been done with them. This is just one of those better-than-average movies that you will get into because you like someone in the cast. Not as good as the aforementioned In the Line of Fire, but you could do worse.
reviewed by Bobby Blades
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