The Sentinel

April, 2006, Thriller

Michael Douglas, looking and sounding a bit more like his famous Dad with each passing role, joins Keifer Sutherland in this competent if formulaic thriller about an attempted political assignation by a member of the Secret Service. While director Clark Johnson, (the pork-pie hat wearing cop in the TV. series Life on the Streets) handles this material with workmanlike competence, there isn't anything here that hasn't been done before and even well turned-out beauties like Eve Longoria and Kim Basinger fail to bring much chemistry to the proceedings. 

Douglas plays a career member of the President's guard, (reminiscent of Clint Eastwood's 1993 film In The Line of Fire) whose days on active duty are nearing an end. Involved in an adulterous relationship with a highly public figure, he finds himself being framed for the murder of a fellow team member being investigated by Sutherland. Since the latter is convinced Douglas previously strayed with Sutherland's ex-wife, the two clash repeatedly over what one sees an incriminating evidence and the other as growing signs of a conspiracy to harm the President.

Informants whisper, suspects get tailed, shoot-outs occur on dry-docked freighters and clues are discovered in a killer's refrigerator; all this keeps the action going at a sufficiently brisk if totally predictable clip, but the script never provides any depth to the characters, who all deliver precisely what the audience expects from them.

Long on coincidence but short on credibility, the storyline follows Douglas as he bobs and weaves his way through a maelstrom of events to the climatic scene in which he personally rescues a grateful Chief Executive from certain death at the hands of some central Asian fanatics. It's easy to tell the bad guys--they're badly shaven and speak with appropriately sinister foreign accents.

There's nothing awful here-but nothing particularly worthy either. Cynics may conclude that Sutherland and Longoria are simply cashing in on their current television success before moving on to better material. Douglas, on the other hand, appears to be completing one of the last chapters in a career bearing ominous signs of terminal decline. 

If you're not a fan of the genre, don't start here; if you are, wait until this one's out on D.V.D. and use it to fill an evening otherwise devoid of more worthwhile diversions. 

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