DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Michael Douglas as PETE GARRISON
    Kiefer Sutherland as DAVID BRECKINRIDGE
    Eva Longoria as JILL MARTIN
    Martin Donovan as WILLIAM MONSTROSE
    Ritchie Coster as THE HANDLER
    Kristin Lehman as CINDY BRECKINRIDGE
    Raynor Scheine as WALTER XAVIER

    Studio: 20th Century Fox

    Directed by: Clark Johnson
    Back to DVD Review Home


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The assassination of a president is a common plot device in films. Heck, it’s even become a controversial mockumentary plot device in the festival circuit now. These films seem to be a genre all their own, or at least a distinct sub-genre in political thrillers.

The latest big-budget presidential assassination film is “The Sentinel.” It tells the story of Secret Service agent Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) who is framed for a plot to kill the President. While the real conspirators are roaming free, Garrison is on the lam, being chased by a tenacious federal investigator (Kiefer Sutherland).

Garrison uses his contacts and his knowledge of the internal workings of the Secret Service to not only keep himself free, but to hopefully thwart the assassination.

This film also marks the big screen debut of “Desperate Housewives” diva Eva Longoria. If this is any indication of how the stars of that show will break out into mainstream movies, I hope for their sake that they’re negotiating long-term contracts. While Longoria is far from dreadful in the film, she’s still somewhat forgettable. Add to the fact that in her conservative Secret Service attire, a lot of her screen appeal is muted and not exploited as it is on television.

I do give Michael Douglas a lot of credit with “The Sentinel.” It’s refreshing to see a movie where he actually plays someone his age. It’s also refreshing that his love interest is the more age-realistic Kim Basinger than Eva Longoria who is more than 20 years Basinger’s junior.

Recently, Douglas has appeared in some pretty weak parts, from “You, Me and Dupree” to a run of stinkers two years ago. In many ways, he reminds me a lot of Harrison Ford as an actor. There’s a certain cut of character he plays well, and it crosses paths with those of Ford. While Ford is still trying to do action films, Douglas’s turn in “The Sentinel” is far more realistic yet still satisfying.

The DVD comes with a feature-length commentary with director Clark Johnson and screenwriter George Nolfi, as well as several deleted scenes and an alternate ending. Johnson and Nolfi provide commentary on the deleted scenes as well.

The two short documentaries included in the mix are also decent. In particular, there’s a rather interesting profile of the Secret Service itself and how it uses all the tools at its disposal to do its job.

As a genre or sub-genre piece, “The Sentinel” works within its structure. It’s somewhat predictable and uses many cliche devices, but it keeps the audience guessing at least part of the time. There are better films of its kind out there, like “In the Line of Fire,” but for a lazy weekend DVD rental, “The Sentinel” works.

Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Widescreen (2.40:1). Spanish and French language tracks. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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