The Sentinel

2 out of 10


Yet Another Trite Terrorist Flick

Despite being barely able to string a couple of words together to make a sentence, a crazed nutter has become President with plans to abolish civil rights and start World War Three... but enough of reality, back to "The Sentinel", a Hollywood film about the Secret Service.

Michael Douglas is typecast, as Pete Garrison, a long-standing member of the Secret Service who can't leave other people's women alone. After guarding the President for many years, he finds himself framed for a plot to kill the Ballantine (Donald Freeman Greene), a US President who remains level-headed and reasonable throughout and is clearly the work of total fiction. Realising that he is the fall-guy for a real assassination plot, Garrison must outwit the Service who are hunting for him by using all his training, including such sophisticated techniques like pretending to be someone else and running away.

From his previous flick, "SWAT", director Clark Johnson clearly knows well how to move security folk around realistically, yet despite a flight of top stars, he seems at a loss of how to use the immense talent he has at his disposal. As David Breckinridge, the rigourous investigating officer and ex-friend of Garrison. Keifer Sutherland excels, but somehow Johnson seems unable to do anything memorable with this combination of Sutherland and Douglas. Likewise, Academy Award winner Kim Basinger as the First Lady is left to do little more than stand on the sidelines, just as Johnson has failed to draw us, the audience, into the plot, in part, through creating little or no sympathy with any of the characters.

Based on Gerald Petievich's novel, George Nolfi's screenplay achieves what I would have thought was near impossible. With just shootouts and nothing clever in the way of stunts, the script of "The Sentinel" remains utterly flat, dull and seemingly lacking pace. He poses only one question of interest, - who is the mole? Maybe if Garrison or even the President's wife had turned out to be the one responsible it might have at least had an interesting ending. Instead, with the usual English terrorist involved, the double agent accomplice turns out be nothing earth-shattering and it ends as predictable as conflict in the Middle East on the news tonight.

Wasting the President was never such a waste of time

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett