Thursday, April 27, 2006

'The Sentinel' worth a look

Sometimes you just need to spend two hours with a good thriller. Which is exactly what “The Sentinel,” the fine new film from director Clark Johnson, is – even if the plot couldn’t happen in a million years.

Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) is a true American hero. A veteran Secret Service agent, he’s a legend in the department because he took a bullet for President Ronald Reagan back in ’81. Taking a bullet for the prez is to the Service what throwing a perfect game is for major league pitchers – instant immortality.

But when Secret Service agents are assassinated and Pete fails a polygraph test, past accomplishments are thrown out the window. Pete’s the main suspect in a plot to kill the president (David Rasche).

Turns out he’s also having an affair with the First Lady (Kim Basinger). And he might have had an affair with fellow Secret Service agent David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland)’s wife, too. Oh, by the way, David’s the guy who is investigating Pete’s case. And if all these distractions aren’t enough, Pete also has to set out on his own to prove his innocence.

You get the idea. But if the plot is farfetched – which it is – “The Sentinel” makes up for it by being a well-told, well-crafted piece of filmmaking. We don’t mind being manipulated if it’s done so in an attractive way.

Douglas seems to be limited to playing the same kind of role – a professional type who makes a mistake, suffers the consequences, then has to escape from a bad situation. But he does it well and he’s clearly in his element in this film.

Keifer Sutherland turns in an excellent performance as the duty-bound Breckinridge. He may be the most underrated actor in Hollywood right now, a fact that fans of the TV show “24” already know. And if Eva Longoria (who plays Secret Service rookie Jill Marin) isn’t the best actress in Hollywood, well, this performance is a step toward leaving “Desperate Housewives” behind for greener pastures if she so chooses.

Hollywood, like most everything else, seems to take one particular genre and beat it to death. The current trend seems to be toward mindless, needlessly gory horror pictures. If you’re not into that and just want an enjoyable if somewhat implausible action flick, skip “Silent Hill” in favor of “The Sentinel.”

At least with the latter you get character development and a back story. They both seem to be disappearing faster than the winter chill.

"The Sentinel" is rated PG-13.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thought you were talking about the other paper, then I thought, nawww

7:34 PM  

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