Something must be drawing Michael Douglas to the upper-crust “man in peril” role. He’s been stalked by a woman who likes to boil rabbits, sexually harassed by his sexy boss, and is currently being framed for the assassination of the President in The Sentinel. Douglas plays Peter Garrison, a Secret Service veteran who is also having an affair with the wife of the man he is sworn to protect, First Lady Ballentine (Kim Basinger, still looking good at 53). When Garrison is framed by the assassins (one of who… may be another Secret Service Agent), he must stay one step ahead of former protege Agent Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland, doing Jack Bauer as a SS agent) and rookie agent Jill Marin (an underused but gorgeous Eva Longoria), who are hot on his trail, believing he really is trying to kill the President.
The plot is lifted from dozens of other films and simply injected into different surroundings. Instead of a doctor and a one-armed man, it’s a Secret Service agent and a plot to kill the President. Despite the lack of plot originality, director Clark Johnson (The Shield, The Wire) and the professional cast, especially Douglas and Sutherland, always keep things moving at an economical clip. The Sentinel never lingers on anything long enough for us to question it, and it hits all the right marks in its 108 minute running time. It even takes some time to show us the daily grind of a Secret Service agent, which adds to the film’s authenticity.
The Sentinel won’t be up for any awards come Oscar season, heck, you probably won’t think much about it minutes after ejecting it from your DVD player, but it is an entertaining film, and sometimes, that’s all you need on a Saturday night.
The Sentinel boasts a near perfect 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen picture. Its colors practically jump off the screen making this a very good looking transfer. There is no grain or pixelation, and no other major flaws to mention.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack to The Sentinel isn’t as attractive as the picture, but it does its job admirably. The industrial-techno score thumps and the limited scenes with action are ramped up enough to get your juices flowing. There are no demo-quality scenes to be found in the film, but it does add to the viewing experience, calling on the low frequency and surrounds when needed.
- Commentary with Director Clark Johnson and Screenwriter George Nolfi – Johnson and Nolfi have a good time doing the commentary which results in it being fun and educational. They discuss the realism of the Secret Service used in the film as well as the challenges in shooting on location in and around Washington, D.C.
- Deleted Scenes – includes scenes that deservedly were cut from the film as well as an extended version of the film’s ending.
- The Secret Service: Building on a Tradition of Excellence and In the President’s Shadow: Protecting the President are both similar featurettes that talk extensively about the history of the Secret Service and how they operate today as well as how they are portrayed in the film.
- Trailers – Two trailers for The Sentinel
- Previews – includes trailers for Thank You for Smoking, Behind Enemy Lines II, Romancing the Stone & Jewel of the Nile, and 24 Season 4.
The Sentinel is a fun ride. Douglas pulls off another “man in peril” role with ease and the filmmakers keep things moving at a brisk pace. The disc looks and sounds great and there are enough extras to chew on to learn more about the Secret Service. The next time you’re at your local movie rental store, give The Sentinel a look. You won’t regret it.
Special Features List
- Commentary with Director Clark Johnson and Screenwriter George Nolfi
- Deleted Scenes
- The Secret Service: Building on a Tradition of Excellence
- In the President’s Shadow: Protecting the President