"Highly Skilled, Lacking Morals"
What You Need To Know:
THE SENTINEL is a fast and furious, entertaining ride, but loose strings abound when the story skids to a stop. Also, Michael Douglas seems too old for the part he plays. His relationship with the First Lady is one-dimensional. THE SENTINEL is also tarnished by its unmoored morality and moderate foul language. The American Secret Service is shown in a positive light, but the adultery in the movie avoids criticism because it is considered "love" in the story.
(HH, PP, B, LL, VV, S, A, D, MM) Strong humanist worldview about a secret service agent trying to protect the President and American Secret Service agents shown in a positive light as they protect the President; strong language with six mild obscenities, five light profanities and seven strong profanities; opening scenes use news footage of President Reagan and others being shot and other strong violence includes presidential helicopter shot by missile, assassination of an agent, a shoot out in a shopping mall, a final shooting battle to try to kill the president, some fighting, and some blood shown; sexual content includes theme of adultery with kissing shown and man shown kissing woman in bra; no nudity but female cleavage and woman in bra; alcohol use; smoking and some over the counter drug use; and, themes of deception, lying and blackmail, and adultery avoids criticism because it is considered “love” in the story.
THE SENTINEL stars Michael Douglas as Pete Garrison, a seasoned and decorated Secret Service agent who happens to be having an affair with First Lady Sarah Ballentine (played by Kim Basinger). Garrison believes the affair is well concealed, but he soon receives sophisticated surveillance photos showing the two of them kissing. Garrison believes it is merely political blackmail, but soon discovers it is part of a larger plot to kill the President. He uncovers evidence suggesting that a mole in the Secret Service may be working with the conspirators.
Along comes Agent David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), the conspiracy’s lead investigator, and his rookie partner (played by Eva Longoria) to shine additional light on Garrison’s recent polygraph failure. Breckinridge and Garrison are former best friends with a bad history between them.
Breckinridge follows the evidence and it leads straight to Garrison. Garrison flees in order to prove that he is being framed. Meanwhile, there are dangerous men from a mysterious cartel who are inching closer to assassinate the President of the United States.
Is Garrison being framed or is he an unknowing participant in this evil plot? Can Breckinridge find the truth in time or will he also play into the hands of assassins? Could someone else be manipulating events? Is anyone above suspicion?
As a political thriller, THE SENTINEL boasts a terrific cast, intense drama and high energy throughout. Occasionally smart and clever, the story still suffers from being wrapped up a little too neatly. The movie manages to entertain well through its fast and furious ride, but loose strings abound when the story skids to a stop. In those closing moments, discerning audiences will be fraught with flashbacks of the movie’s other glaring weaknesses.
Michael Douglas, a huge talent and seasoned actor, appears too old to pull this role off convincingly. Douglas is in good shape, to be sure, but he is bound to regret his character’s repeated close-ups.
Academy Award Winning Actress Kim Basinger may still look beautiful but she is reduced to a one-dimensional character here. The evil conspirators are tied loosely to a drug cartel but no motive for their plot is ever revealed. The all-consuming “love” affair ends abruptly and without consequence. And, sadly, an agent facing moral disgrace is instead portrayed as heroic. Finally, THE SENTINEL’s script is laced with numerous profanities.
At least THE SENTINEL portrays our Secret Service in a positive light. It is oddly inspiring to watch these fictional agents protect a fictional President.
Kiefer Sutherland (24’s Jack Bauer from television) is superb as Agent Breckinridge and Eva Longoria is a surprise, as well. These two shine compared to the “other” aging couple. Another refreshing twist is that THE SENTINEL smartly avoids any hint of political correctness. The story is about the agents, not the political views of any particular Administration. THE SENTINEL remains steadfastly neutral.
Despite these cinematic treats, and the wild ride of its fast-moving plot, THE SENTINEL does not add up to a fantastic movie experience. It is surely entertaining but tarnished by unmoored morality and offensive language.