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SENTINEL, THE

SYNOPSIS:
When a colleague is murdered in mysterious circumstances, US Secret Service agent Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) is put in charge of the investigation, as clues suggest the murder is linked to a Presidential assassination plot. But Garrison himself becomes a suspect after he is blackmailed by someone who knows of his affair with the First Lady (Kim Basinger). When his former friend and colleague (Kiefer Sutherland) turns against him, he becomes a fugitive, much to the surprise of the conflicted rookie at the Service that he mentored at the Academy, Jill Marin (Eva Longoria). Garrison has to prove his innocence and save the President's (David Rasche) life, with the security forces of the US lined up against him.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Most people rely on the stars of their liking to give them confidence about a new movie, and Michael Douglas inspires confidence in whatever role he tackles in a career of considerable width and depth. In The Sentinel, he plays to expectations, and he's well supported by a genre film that also delivers on expectations as a thrilling action drama revolving around sinister plots that aim to kill the US President (more symbolic than personal, though, so don't go rushing to see Bush shot at). Douglas is committed to the film in every way, and it shows; where actors like him stand out is in the same way that sport champs stand out. There is never a B game; every on screen second counts.

The film's greatest asset after Douglas is its veracity: meticulous research and a good choice of consultants from within the security business gives the film a patina of reality that enhances the experience in every way, from procedures to personalities. (The novel on which it's based is also by an ex Secret Service agent: Gerald Petievich.)

Kim Basinger is never a second rate love interest, even if it's illicit (or dare I say, especially ....) and Kiefer Sutherland just grows more mature with every good role. Eva Longoria combines feminine charms with a steely professionalism, and I could have wished for an ever beefier role for her - but it is already more than tokenism.

Clark Johns handles the film with skill and energy, and the production design (including the notable costumes) is first class. I have some reservations about the score, but in a genre film like this, predictability is probably the better part of musical valour. It's a film that satisfies much like French fries, without asking too much of the kitchen but irresistible in the context - and notable if it were to disappoint. Here, it's the full big Mac package.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SENTINEL, THE (M)
(US, 2006)

CAST: Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria, Kim Basinger, Martin Donovan, Ritchie Coster, Blair Brown, David Rasche, Kristin Lehman, Chuck Shamata, Clark Johnson

PRODUCER: Michael Douglas, Marcy Drogin, Arnon Milchan

DIRECTOR: Clark Johns

SCRIPT: Geroge Nolfi (novel by Gerald Petievich)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gabriel Beristain

EDITOR: Cindy Mollo

MUSIC: Christoph Beck

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew McAlpine

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 3, 2006







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