The Sentinel

When television actors do movies, most tend to try to broaden their image.  Why play the same role on film that one does on television?  This is why Felicity Huffman does something like Transamerica.  Plus, it makes them more marketable and proves that they can act.  So here comes Kiefer Sutherland (The Wild, Taking Lives), who plays Jack Bauer on 24, one of the better shows on television right now.  In The Sentinel, Bauer is David Breckenridge, a Secret Service agent looking into a suspected plot to assassinate the President.  Otherwise known as 24 Season One.  The roles are very similar, which does not bode well for The Sentinel, since one hour of 24 is much more exciting than an hour and a half of this movie.

The Sentinel is at best mediocre.  It reminds one of 24, mixed in with a bit In the Line of Fire, and there's a nagging feeling that somebody wrote this for Harrison Ford.  Instead, the main person is Michael Douglas, with Eva Longoria thrown in for some eye candy (she really does nothing of consequence).  Douglas (The Beautiful Country, The In-Laws) is Pete Garrison, a veteran Secret Service Agent who once took a bullet for Reagan.  He works the detail for Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger, Cellular, The Door in the Floor), the First Lady.  He is also having an affair with her.  To add further tension, screenwriter George Nolfi (Ocean's Twelve, Timeline), who adapted Gerald Petievich's novel, makes Garrison and old friend of Breckenridge.  They were partners for over a decade, until Breckenridge suspected Garrison of having an affair with his wife.  Jill Marin (Longoria) is a rookie working with Breckenridge.  She knew Garrison from the Academy, and it was he who suggested she work with Breckenridge.

One of Garrison's old informants passes along information pertaining to an assassination attempt.  As director Clark Johnson (S.W.A.T.) repeatedly reminds the viewer, if this is true, it is the first time ever there was a mole in the Secret Service.  The investigation begins quickly, and suspicions immediately fall on Garrison.  He failed a lie detector test while trying to cover his affair.  Breckenridge is a by-the-books agents who will "follow the evidence" (another point repeatedly hammered home) and it's pointing at Garrison.  Garrison runs, but not to escape.  He believes that the only way to catch the assassin is if he investigates.  So he has to investigate and stay hidden from Breckenridge.  For his part, Breckenridge must deal with a man who knows all of the techniques that he will employ.

All this has the potential to be exciting.  Johnson does an adequate job keeping viewers thrilled and guessing, but as the story progresses, things become increasingly outlandish.  Johnson ignores part of the story - it's never in doubt that Garrison has nothing to do with the plot.  Like Breckenridge, everything in The Sentinel is by the books.  The plot hits all of the standard twists in slowly uncovering the real assassin, and all of the things meant to be surprises fall a bit stale.  The tension between Garrison and Breckenridge feels too manufactured.  And the sad truth of the matter is, The Sentinel is not as good as 24.  And when a movie isn't as good as something that's on television, then what's the point?

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated PG-13 for some intense action violence and a scene of sensuality.

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