Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) really isn’t having a good day. He’s a secret service agent who is on the run to clear his name, after he has been accused for being a “mole” in the White House to assassinate President Ballentine (David Rasche). It really didn’t help that Pete has failed a mandatory polygraph test when all other agents didn’t, and it also probably doesn’t help that Pete is sleeping with Sarah Ballenstine (Kim Basinger) who is the First Lady. Stop me if have heard of this idea before.There’s an idea for a page-turning potboiler of an action yarn; something that Tom Clancy would have dreamed up about 20 years ago. The problem with “The Sentinel”, the film in question here, is that despite a solid group of actors who signed up for this film, we have seen every last nook and cranny of this movie before, right down to Kiefer Sutherland’s performance as agent David Breckinridge, which appears to be the exact same role he plays every week as Jack Bauer on “24”.
I have also seen this performance by Michael Douglas. You know the kind of wise guy who gets really bent out of shape when he is accused of something and goes nearly insane trying to clear his name. Douglas is a gifted actor, of course, but it’s as if his Tom Sanders from “Disclosure” (1994) progressed from his internet job in Seattle into the wily political area of Washington, and look what happens. And, like the Michael Crichton-inspired novel, nobody believes Pete Garrison until it is necessary by the screenplay, and then the film devolves into an extended action sequence.
I almost forgot to mention Eva Longoria, the lovely actress from “Desperate Housewives” and the cover of far too many women’s magazines and whose appearance here as a Breckinridge’s rookie partner is wholly inexplicable. Anyone could have played this part, and why would Longoria try to venture into bigger films through this?
“The Sentinel” has been directed by Clark Johnson, who was also responsible for the dreadful “SWAT” film from 2003. I won’t fault Johnson as a technical director; he can point and shoot a film very well and has a knack for a bit of visual flair at times. He reminds me of the works of Peter Hyams (Running Scared, Timecop) who has a working-class attitude to his direction. Here’s hoping that he can get a decent film to get under his belt for next time.Save your ticket money and put it towards that DVD box set of “24” that you’ve been meaning to buy.