Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland star in "The Sentinel," a movie that, while offering some thrills and standard twists, looks a lot like a washed-out version of Sutherland's own "24" series.
Professional critics (albeit less wiser and much less cockier than I) have already pointed out the strange movie pick by Sutherland, who probably spends a good two-thirds of his year playing the ferocious and point-on Jack Bauer in the popular and exciting Fox television series. While his character has become a bit more predictable over the years, Sutherland's Bauer still packs a punch as he growls his way from one action scene to the next, where no law is certain to be enforced.
So why would Sutherland, in a rare movie appearance since he began doing "24," choose to play a secret service agent who will stop at nothing to find his old mentor (Douglas), who is accused of planning an assassination of the President? Sutherland does a good job - after all, it should be second nature to him by now - but the character certainly is no Bauer, and the similarities are certainly there. "The Sentinel" is essentially "24: The Movie," albeit a B-grade version of the show.
That being said, "The Sentinel" is still an enjoyable action movie that offers up some political intrigue, exciting chases and good acting from all those involved, including Kim Basinger and Eva Longoria in supporting roles. The plot is simple: Douglas, who plays the most experienced and best Secret Service agent in the force, discovers a Presidential assassination plot that stems from within the Secret Service. The investigation he starts, however, leads back to his doorstep, and even though it is quite clearly a frame-up, his old friend and apprentice, played by Sutherland, sets out to track him down. In the meantime, Douglas seeks out the truth on his own, as he is certain that if he gets caught, he will be locked up for good - or worse.
The plot suffers from a few big holes, namely the fact that much of the story revolves around Douglas' affair with the First Lady (Basinger). While I wouldn't be surprised if some kind of affair has occurred between a First Lady and some Secret Service agent at some point (come on, if presidents get horny for interns and movie stars, some First Lady must have had the hots for a strong man with sunglasses and a gun), the affair between Douglas and Basinger seems farfetched to say the least. If he is as good as the movie claims he is, and even has the slightest bit of self control, he wouldn't be stupid enough to have an affair with the one woman you really shouldn't have an affair with.
Nevertheless, Douglas turns in a good albeit, in comparison to other roles, not spectacular delivery. He plays the seasoned, slightly bitter professional oh so well, and definitely seems to be enjoying the movie.
Still, with the cast involved, it's a shame "The Sentinel" couldn't rise to the next level. The movie is entertaining and well-acted, and certainly worth watching if you enjoy political conspiracy flicks, but it never rises beyond the ordinary.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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