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Clark Johnson
Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria, Martin Donovan, Ritchie Coster, Kim Basinger, Blair Brown, David Rasche, Kristin Lehman, Raynor Scheine, Chuck Shamata
Writing Credits:
George Nolfi, Gerald Petievich (novel)

When justice is blind, it knows no fear.

There's never been a traitor in the United States Secret Service ... until now. And the evidence points to Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas), one of the most trusted agents on the force. Now on the run, with two relentless federal investigators (Kiefer Sutherland and Eva Longoria) hot on his heels, Garrison must fight to clear his name and thwart an attempt on the President's life before it's too late!

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$14.367 million on 2822 screens.
Domestic Gross
$36.279 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.40:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 8/29/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director Clark Johnson and Writer George Nolfi
• Alternate Ending
• Four Deleted Scenes
• “The Secret Service: Building on a Tradition of Excellence” Featurette
• “In the President’s Shadow: Protecting the President” Featurette
• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Sentinel (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 11, 2006)

After 24 revived his career, Kiefer Sutherland obviously got more interest from Hollywood. So what’d he choose for a project? A flick that casts him as another crime-fighting government agent! Not exactly a stretch, is it?

Still, The Sentinel sounded like it could be interesting. Secret Service agent Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) defends Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger), the First Lady. We quickly learn they’re having an affair.

A fellow agent named Charlie Merriweather (Clarque Johnson) gets murdered on his own doorstep, and Secret Service investigators David Breckinridge (Sutherland) and Jill Marin (Eva Longoria) take on the case. When Pete looks into the crime himself, he hears from an informant named Xavier (Raynor Scheine) who claims that agents are involved in a plot to assassinate the president (David Rasche).

Matters complicate from there. Someone frames Pete to make it appear that he’s the one behind the assassination plot. This sets him on a quest to clear his name, all while Breckinridge and Marin track him. Even that subject becomes murky since Pete trained both of them – and had a fracture in his former friendship with Breckinridge.

On the surface, Sentinel should have created a pretty good little thriller. It certainly boasts an intriguing idea, as the concept of a traitor in the Secret Service opens up all sorts of possibilities. That forms something unusual for the movie to exploit.

Unfortunately, Sentinel goes nowhere beyond the normal cop movie cliches. The premise doesn’t bear fruit in a fulfilling manner. The involvement of the Secret Service creates superficial intrigue but doesn’t pan out as anything unusual. This means the tale evolves in a manner no different than any other flick in which an unjustly accused man tries to clear his name and find the real baddies.

The tired nature of the story really makes it drag. Even though the first act throws out lots of potentially interesting exposition, the tale drags. The plot sputters and meanders as we wait to get to the meat of the matter.

Because of this, the movie takes way too long to ignite. I’m not sure it ever actually fires, but any potential sparks come so late in the flick that we’ve lost interest. It’s a good idea to stretch the tension, but this lackadaisical movie never manages to create any tension to stretch.

I put the responsibility on director Clark Johnson. As I noted, the story itself presents many exciting possibilities, and I sure can’t blame the more than capable cast. Unfortunately, Johnson just doesn’t impart a sense of urgency to the proceedings. The flick lollygags and doesn’t create anything more than a superficial sense of drama.

All of this leaves The Sentinel as a surprisingly dull thriller. I thought I’d like the flick and I wanted to like the flick, but it never involved me. Really, it’s little more than a weak remake of The Fugitive. Chalk up this one as a missed opportunity.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

The Sentinel appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Not too many problems cropped up through this strong transfer.

At all times, sharpness was very positive. Virtually no signs of softness appeared during this tight, concise presentation. I witnessed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was minimal. In addition, I detected no evidence of source flaws, as the print always appeared clean and fresh.

Colors took on the cool side of a natural palette. Actually, they got chillier as the flick proceeded and went for a more desaturated appearance. The DVD replicated the tones well, as they always seemed accurate within the production design. Blacks came across as deep and firm, but shadows were a bit erratic. Low-light shots occasionally seemed somewhat thick and murky. I thought that was a minor issue, though, and the majority of the image was very pleasing.

Similar thoughts greeted the more than acceptable Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Sentinel. The soundfield took good advantage of its occasional opportunities to shine. The movie boasted a smattering of action sequences, and those opened up the mix to a broad and satisfying degree. They used the surrounds well and formed a fine sense of activity. Quieter sequences created a nice feeling of ambience, and music offered good stereo imaging.

Audio quality was solid. Speech always sounded natural and concise, and I noticed no signs of edginess or other problems. Music was bright and dynamic, and effects worked well. Those elements seemed clean and accurate, and they presented very nice bass response. Although the mix lacked the consistent ambition to reach “A”-level, it was a solid presentation.

When we head to the set’s extras, we start with an audio commentary with director Clark Johnson and writer George Nolfi. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They get into shooting in DC and Toronto, sets and production design, research and realism, cast, characters and performances, the script and changes made to it, and general production trivia.

Johnson and Nolfi enjoy a nice chemistry that helps make this a fun chat. It never becomes a truly fascinating piece, but we learn enough about the movie to allow it to prosper. Although a few extended gaps occur, the participants usually maintain a lively pace. They joke around a lot and create an enjoyable discussion.

Commentary warning: fans of the President might not enjoy it too much. Neither man seems fond of Bush, and Johnson clearly can’t stand the current regime. He throws in some political remarks that might not sit well with the conservative crowd, so take this as your warning!

We get an Alternate Ending and four Deleted Scenes. The “Ending” lasts three minutes, 12 seconds, while the others run a total of seven and a half minutes. These include “Garrison and Chaminski Drive to Mall” (1:04), “Jill Suspects Garrison Is Innocent” (0:46), “Breckinridge Confronts His Wife” (2:13) and “Garrison and Sarah Have a Private Moment” (3:27). “Wife” is the most interesting of the bunch since it gets more into the backstory about the tension between Breckinridge and Garrison. The others are pretty forgettable, and that includes the “Alternate Ending”. It creates a rosier conclusion to the movie, but not a logical one.

We can watch these segments with or without commentary from Nolfi. He mainly provides story notes and relates how the scenes would have fit into the movie. He also tells us a little about why the clips got cut, though he doesn’t do a great job of that. Still, he adds enough to make his commentary worth a listen. (Note that Nolfi doesn’t start his discussion of “Moment” until about 90 seconds into the scene.)

Two featurettes follow. The Secret Service: Building on a Tradition of Excellence fills 12 minutes and 59 seconds. It mixes movie clips with behind the scenes material and interviews. We find remarks from Nolfi, retired Secret Service agents Gerry Cavis, Kevin Billings, and actors Kiefer Sutherland, Michael Douglas, and Eva Longoria. We learn about the history of the Secret Service and its evolution over the years. We also hear about the work the Secret Service does including and beyond the obvious presidential protection, issues related to new recruits, training, and how former agents worked as technical advisors for the movie. We also get a few notes about the shoot.

Given its laudatory title, one might expect “Excellence” to come across as a love letter to the Secret Service. To a degree, that’s true; it sure doesn’t present that group as anything other than terrific. Nonetheless, the show gives us a better than decent look at the basics related to the Secret Service, so it complements the movie.

Finally, In the President’s Shadow: Protecting the President goes for seven minutes, 37 seconds, and includes remarks from Douglas, Cavis, Nolfi, Longoria, Sutherland, Billings, and producer Marcy Drogin. As implied by the title, “Shadow” looks at how the Secret Service defends the President. It looks at how agents rise through the ranks to take on protective details and gets into the details of what they do to keep the President safe. As with “Excellence”, this never becomes a particularly deep program, but it has enough interesting elements to make it worth a look.

The disc includes two Trailers for Sentinel and some ads at the disc’s start. We find promos for Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, X-Men 3: The Last Stand and the 2006 version of The Omen.

Despite an interesting story idea, The Sentinel never manages to take flight. The movie rambles and meanders without much sizzle. It tends to follow a predictable path as it fails to engage the viewer. The DVD offers very good picture and audio along with a mix of fairly interesting extras. I can’t complain about the quality of this release, but the movie leaves me cold.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.2307 Stars Number of Votes: 13
5 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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