Saturday, January 21, 2017
SENTINEL, THE (2006)
(April 2006, U.S.)
Apparently, it's necessary for me to specify the release year of this film because in 1977, there was a horror film by Michael Winner also called THE SENTINEL, which I've never seen (though I suppose now I'll have to check it out, just to satisfy my curiosity). Just wanted to make that clear.
After Al Pacino, there's no one I enjoy watching play cop (or in this case, a veteran Secret Service agent) like Michael Douglas (just watch BLACK RAIN and BASIC INSTINCT to know what I'm talking about). The man has a hard edge that naturally compliments such a role. In this film THE SENTINEL, which by definition, is a soldier or guard whose job is to stand and keep watch, he's not only a loyal bodyguard for the current President of the United States and the First Lady, but as history (fictionally) shows us, he took a bullet for Ronald Reagan the day he was shot by John Hinckley Jr. in March 1981. However, it seems that even while he's protecting the First Lady, he's also having an affair with her (ballsy motherfucker, ain't he!). They appear to be in love, as well.
When a fellow agent is assassinated in front of his home, it becomes evident that there's a traitor, or a mole, somewhere inside the Secret Service, and (naturally!) mounting evidence points to Pete Garrison (Douglas); in particular, the fact that he failed a polygraph test in which he was forced to lie in order to conceal his affair with the First Lady and ultimately protect her. I say "naturally", because it's always the good and loyal man who's inevitably framed for something like this, and (naturally) he'll stop at nothing to keep from being caught and proving his innocence, and (naturally) the mole usually turns out to be the last guy you'd suspect. Pete's estranged friend and former protégé David Breckinridge (played by Kiefer Sutherland) has no trouble suspecting his former mentor for his own personal reasons. You see, it seems that David once concluded that Pete was sleeping with his wife (when in actuality, he was screwing the First Lady), which lead to their divorce and his resentment toward Pete. So now David is not only out to fry Pete for treason in which he's innocent, but clearly looking to settle a score with him, as well.
A thriller such as this will always rely on cliché, particularly the manner in which the hero will finally prove his innocence and save the day (and the President). However, in a post 9-11 world of government and security, there are moments that are tense (as well as thrilling) in which we're also forced to consider the dangerous time we lived in back then, and still do now. Watch closely the moment when the presidential helicopter is suddenly shot down by an enemy's surface-to-air missile outside Camp David (though neither the President, nor the First Lady are on board, as it turns out) and tell me you don't get a slight chill down your back in knowing that such a thing could happen, or at least can happen, even on film. We're reminded that no one is safe, not even our most protected people. Not too unlike Clint Eastwood in IN THE LINE OF FIRE (1993), Douglas remains loyal, faithful and determined to protect our Commander-in-chief at all costs, even if it means his own skin. And of course, the bad guys, our terrorist enemies of a foreign land, must go down in the end. They do.
THE SENTINEL was one of the last films of Michael Douglas that I truly enjoyed before he announced that he was diagnosed with throat cancer (and while Gordon Gekko is always a welcomed character, I can't honestly say the 2010 sequel to WALL STREET was anything that special). Since then, his career has become lackluster, at best, for my personal tastes. Kiefer Sutherland is naturally effective in his own hard-ass role, even for someone like myself who has never watched an episode of 24 in his life. Eva Longoria, while always being a nice piece of ass to look at, serves virtually no purpose in this film except to clearly define the woman's role of equality in a man's world of the Secret Service...while being a nice piece of ass to look at!
Favorite line or dialogue:
David Breckinridge: "You're late."
Jill Marin: "It's a minute past."
David: "Yeah, and that makes you late."