Friday, 26 March 2010

The Sentinel

Lowdown: Another bodyguard has to fight enemies within to save the holy president.
Back when 2006’s The Sentinel was still playing at the cinemas my father told me this is one film I really have to watch. To quote him, “there are some films, and then there is The Sentinel”. How shall I put it? I didn’t rush to the cinema. However, I did record The Sentinel when it was broadcast a few months ago by Channel 9, and eventually I did sit and watch it, and – just as I suspected – I now have all the justification required for not rushing to see the film.
The Sentinel is yet another one of those films dealing with the American Secret Service and their continuing efforts to keep Mr President out of harm's way. The Sentinel is yet another one of those films where the hero character (Michael Douglas) is an aging Secret Service agent that receives his honors for taking a president’s bullet once upon a time but is generally regarded as an out of touch geezer, and another film in which the geezer is the one thing standing between the President and relative safety. The Sentinel is yet another film where there is a mole inside the Secret Service that is threatening things; in this particular case the trick is that for significant parts of the film we can’t really tell whether Douglas himself is the moll as he’s using his training to avoid and deceive other agents. And the Sentinel is yet another film where the only Secret Service character that truly understands Douglas’ is a former colleague turned rival after Douglas had an affair with his wife (Kiefer Sutherland).
Indeed, the only thing I can point at with The Sentinel where it offers something we haven’t seen before is in Douglas having an affair with Mrs President (Kim Basinger; yes, she’s still alive). Otherwise, The Sentinel is nothing we haven’t seen before dozens of times; so can this twisty affair give this film that stands for nothing an edge over, say, In the Line of Fire (probably the best of the genre) or the more recent Vantage Point? No, no and no.
If a film were to decide to get into this over exploited tar pit, I would personally suggest it tries a new angle. Like, for example, asking why is it that the President needs so many guards around him; you don’t see that taking place in other countries. Or why is it that so many people want to harm the President. Or, for that matter, why is it that we need to regard the President as the holiest of holly in the first place? I doubt Washington (as in ex President Washington) would have approved.
As it is, The Sentinel doesn’t ask any complicated questions. It’s just tries to go for the tried and tested thrill; it manages that, but that’s simply not enough.
Worst thing about the film: The Sentinel is a prime example for a film that uses its music (score) to push the plot along rather than have a score that enhances the experience. There is not that much drama going on in The Sentinel, but the constant use of ominous music makes you feel something ominous is about to happen even if all that takes place is the hero switching the light on.
Overall: I’m going to be harsh and give The Sentinel 2 out of 5 stars. Not because it’s 2 stars bad, but rather because it is a completely redundant affair that wastes my time and the talents of those taking part in making it.


Uri said...

We just saw No Way Out after quite a few years, and I noticed the same thing about the soundtrack.

Still enjoyed it though.

Moshe Reuveni said...

Is that really the case (with No Way Out)? I remember it quite fondly. The ending really surprised me!