Even if you haven't seen
Michael Douglas' new movie, you have seen Michael Douglas' new movie -- if
you know what I mean. Douglas has played variations of this role --
the smart professional man who gets ensnared in personal, career and legal
trouble due to a sexual impropriety -- since Fatal Attraction was
such a hit twenty years ago. From that time we've seen Basic
Instinct, Disclosure, A Perfect Murder, Don't Say A Word and others.
However, just because he
seems to fall into formula sometimes, it doesn't mean that's all that he
does -- check out great, edgy films like Falling Down, The Game, Wonder
Boys, Traffic and the like. It also doesn't mean that he isn't very good in
the paint-by-numbers films, or that they are not sometimes very well done.
The Sentinel is one
of the better ones, actually. Douglas plays Pete Garrison, a long-time
secret service agent who works the presidential detail. In fact, he
was supposedly the officer shot in the attempted Reagan assassination by
Sledge Hammer! nearly twenty years ago seems so
much more competent and presidential than the man currently residing in the
White House.The president is played by
David Rasche, and it's kind of scary that the lightweight sitcom actor best
known for playing
Garrison uncovers a plot
against the president's life and the possibility that there is a mole in the
Secret Service. He quickly realizes that he is being framed as the
informant -- the problem is he is in the middle of an affair with the First
Lady (Kim Basinger) and if he tries to prove his innocence it will no doubt
bring their indiscretion to light.
This is the one place where
the film totally flies off the credibility radar -- the First Lady-affair
subplot is kind of ridiculous, it should have been left out in the first
rewrite of the script and it wouldn't have been missed at all.
He is soon being tracked by
his former partner, David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), with whom he has
become estranged because Breckinridge suspects (inaccurately) that Garrison
had an affair with HIS wife. Breckinridge goes into this vital
investigation with a beautiful-but-amazingly-green new partner (Eva
Longoria) who is in her first day in the new job. Further complicating
things are the fact that she was mentored by Garrison, who had recommended
Breckinridge as a partner.
Follow all that?
It doesn't matter really.
It gets a little unnecessarily murky in places. It also gets oddly
old-fashioned in others -- the bad guys are actually made up for former-KGB
Russians, a group that long ago lost its status as the preferred criminals
in action films to militant Arabs.
Nonetheless, The Sentinel is a
clever and taut thriller.
The movie is directed with great style by former actor Clark Johnson -- who
played Det. Lewis for seven seasons on the late, great TV series
Homicide: Life on the Street and also has a cameo here
(billed as Clarque Johnson) as a CIA agent who pays the ultimate price when
he stumbles onto the conspiracy.
The Sentinel may
seem like it was created by a committee from a template for Douglas movies, but at
least the committee took the time to put a slick, exciting piece of product
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Posted: April 27, 2006.