Movie Review: The Sentinel

It’s been a long time since I’ve watched this, like five years long and watching it the other day, I’m reminded for the last time why that is.

Secret Service agent Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) is a personal bodyguard for the First Lady, Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger) when a former informant alerts Garrison that the recent murder of one of Garrison’s close friends may be connected to an assassination attempt on the President and that there might be a mole inside the Secret Service. Lie-detector tests are taken, results are analyzed and Garrison looks like the culprit. After escaping the custody of the FBI, it’s up to Garrison to clear his name and uncover this lethal plot.

The word “assassination” should have been put before the word “plot” in the last sentence of the previous paragraph because nothing about The Sentinel‘s plot is lethal. I like silence while I’m watching movies aside from the snark comment here and there from my family and friends but even I found myself talking through the first ten or so minutes of this movie. Some of the most uninviting character introductions I’ve seen in a while. The film is hanging a neon EXIT sign everywhere it can for the audience.

Garrison’s innocence is noted within the first 15 before the conflict has even been introduced, causing a ripple effect that eliminates any suspense or upheaval The Sentinel tries to present in its later stages. Rather than allowing for audience discussion and debate over Garrison’s innocence, Clark Johnson plays spoiler to his own film, shows us what’s going on in Garrison’s life that might be considered suspect and suddenly, but not surprisingly, audiences have nothing to talk about.

There are two central points to this story: 1) Is Garrison innocent? and 2) Does he get caught or killed?

These points are integrated with each other. One cannot succeed without the other. If we know the answer to question one before the story has moved, the impact of question two is severely diminished. Hard to whisk some suspense into the batter when you’ve already watered it down. The knowledge of question two does not disturb the pond as much, but a bother is a bother nonetheless.

Johnson’s assault of his own creation doomed this from the start, as did the casting of Eva Longoria. She can not act. Her most notable part of dialogue is when Kiefer Sutherland gives her a death threat and has her translate it in Spanish. The Spanish chick can speak Spanish? NO WAY!

It’s one of the most useless takes I’ve ever seen. That’s the most time she’s on-screen the entire movie! To speak Spanish!

Then there’s poor Kiefer Sutherland. He’ll always have my respect for putting together one of my favorite shows, 24, but the guy also typecast himself forever by starring in that show. He’s found no way to distance himself from the president-saving, bomb-defusing, terrorist-killing, cuss-filled tirade that is Jack Bauer and the hourglass is running low on sand.

The Sentinel is no different. Kiefer can go by whatever name the director gives him, but that’s still Jack Bauer running around on the screen and we all know it.

Michael Douglas, who to my recollection has never done me wrong, can’t not do me wrong with the support he’s given. He’s got no one to bounce dialogue off of, a script that asks for jogging, driving and pretending to care and a flawed story. Sounds like a losing formula to anyone that’s not named Clark Johnson. Probably why Johnson was given the job. He was the only one clueless enough to take it.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Leon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the EnemyEquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Mad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe PunisherDrive HardRun All Night)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (CrankErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (OutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafe)

My score for The Sentinel: 56.

There’s no action boost, the suspense was ruined by Johnson’s bullet and the third act trashes any entertainment that might have been had. Somehow only half way down the ladder to being intolerable, the only thing The Sentinel succeeded at was proving that I gave Mad Max: Fury Road a lesser score than it deserved, that and this deserves its place on the bookshelves of the forgotten.

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