I am going to be completely honest with you in regards to this movie. The only reason I watched this movie the first time was because I wanted to see if Kiefer Sutherland would be able to play this role and not slip into “Jack Bauer” mode. After all, this was right at the height of the 24 phenomenon, and Kiefer decides to do a movie playing a Secret Service Agent. It really isn’t that far of a stretch to imagine it happening. Anyways, I enjoyed the movie when I first watched it so while strolling through Blockbuster during their dying days (yes, I did that a lot and my wallet cried every time) I decided to pick up one of their copies as a change of pace from my usual fare. So now I am going to sit back and enjoy today’s movie, The Sentinel (2006).
The plot: After waking from a dream of his helping save President Ronald Reagan, Secret Service Agent Pete Garrison heads to the White House for his shift. Inside the White House, he runs into his friend and fellow agent Charlie Merriweather, who asks to speak with him later. After getting briefed on upcoming assignments, Garrison takes up his position as First Lady Sarah Ballentine and escorts her to the car, where she is going with the President to speak at a local school. As they head to the school, it is revealed that the President and First Lady are having marriage problems, and she tells him she plans on going to the beach house later that day. Meanwhile, Jill Marin arrives at the P.I.D. (Protective Intelligence Division) and reports to David Breckinridge, who chastises her for being late and then asks why she requested being assigned to him. When she tells him that Garrison said he was the best, he shows some displeasure at the mention of Garrison’s name but chooses not to say anything. Elsewhere, Charlie Merriweather is returning home when he is shot and killed by an unknown assailant. When he gets word of what happened, Breckenridge and Marin head to Charlie’s house to check the scene, which the DC police believe is a simple mugging gone bad, but Breckinridge disagrees and believes he was assassinated. At the beach house, Garrison and the rest of the security detail finish checking the house and when Garrison ends up alone with the First Lady, it is revealed that they are having an affair. Garrison is interrupted by someone calling him on the radio and when he heads downstairs, he finds another agent there who tells him about Charlie’s death. Breckinridge is speaking with Charlie’s wife on if he might have told her anything that could have gotten him killed and she tells him he was upset about some gossip about Garrison possibly having an affair with someone from work, which upsets Breckinridge. As Breckinridge leaves, he runs into Garrison and the two start arguing with each other but when Marin asks what the issue is between them, neither tells her. Later, Garrison is told that a former snitch of his, Walter Xavier, wants to talk to him and when he meets with him, Walter tells him that he believes Charlie’s death was linked to a plot to assassinate the president that he overhead. Garrison doesn’t believe it but Walter tells him that there is a mole in the Secret Service, then hands him a folder to prove his point before disappearing. The folder contains code words, call signs, and other info that indicate Walter was correct and steps are taken to increase the protection for the President, including flipping a coin to determine how the President travels to and from the White House. Meanwhile, Garrison receives pictures of him with Sarah just as Breckinridge shows up to ask him about Walter, and Garrison quickly hides the pictures and blackmail note. When he gets a chance, he goes to see Sarah to tell her about the pictures and blackmail, apologizing for putting her in this position. All Secret Service Agents are ordered to take a polygraph test and Garrison takes his before heading out to meet with the blackmailer at a hotel. While waiting outside, Garrison receives a call to head to a coffee shop and he waits there but when nobody shows up, he leaves. Garrison notices he is being followed and quickly evades his tail, only to begin following him but ends up being stopped by the FBI, who thought he was working with the cartel. Garrison accompanies President Ballentine and Sarah to Camp David and on the helicopter flight there, Ballentine asks Garrison if they can talk about the assassination threat and possible mole while at the camp. Walter contacts Garrison and tells him where to meet to deliver his money and tells him to come alone but Garrison’s superior assigns another agent to accompany him, while Breckinridge and Marin leave there office to serve as back up. When he gets to the mall, Garrison heads to his meeting with Walter but Walter sees the other agent and bolts. Meanwhile, the agent warns Garrison of a possible attacker but is shot and killed, ten the attacker tries to shoot Garrison, while taking a hostage to keep Garrison from shooting back. When Breckinridge and Marin arrive, they try to locate the assassin but he changes clothes in a shop and manages to get away. Meanwhile, Marine 1 is shot down by a surface-to-air missile but, due to the coin toss, the President and First Lady were not on board. The assassin meets with the other members of his group as the news about Marine 1 breaks and the group’s leader calls the mole and yells at him for failing to ensure the President would be on the helicopter. Garrison returns home only to have Breckinridge, Marin, and several other agents show up and Breckinridge tells Garrison he is being investigated for treason. Breckinridge tells him the evidence against him but Garrison thinks that his judgement is clouded because he believed that Garrison had an affair with his wife, causing the break-up of his marriage. When Breckinridge steps outside to meet with the director, Garrison manages to escape custody, taking an agent’s radio and gun as he does so. Using the radio, Garrison manages to locate where Sarah is and sneaks by the Secret Service guarding her in order to secretly meet with her and tell her he is being framed. Garrison then works on trying to track down Walter, eventually finding where he is hiding but when he gets there, Walter is already dead. Breckinridge and Marin arrive with some other Secret Service Agents and Garrison is forced to make a run for it, with Breckinridge chasing after him. Breckinridge manages to get the drop on Garrison and shoots him in the vest, but when Garrison tells him to shoot him in the head, he can’t bring himself to do it and allows Garrison to escape. Garrison goes to Charlie’s house to see if he can find anything in Charlie’s files and his widow mentions the car that is watching the house. When the car leaves, Garrison follows it and locates the assassins’ headquarters, killing the assassin that is inside but the other two members overhear it on the phone and head back. Garrison searches the place and finds several passports, weapons, and credentials for the G8 summit and calls Jill to let her know about it but when Breckinridge and the others get there, the body, passports, and credentials are gone. After Garrison calls Sarah and leaves her a goodbye message, she contacts Breckinridge and tells him about the affair and blackmail. Garrison makes his way to Toronto and runs the fingerprints he collected from the dead assassin and sends them to Marin to find out who he is but as he is waiting, Breckinridge appears. Garrison is ready to defend himself but Breckinridge says the First Lady explained everything and he knows he is being framed. As they identify the assassin, they try to figure out who the mole is and realize that Senior Agent William Montrose didn’t take the polygraph. As they head to the G8 Summit, they contact Marin and have her tell the First Lady that Montrose is the mole. When they get there, the Secret Service wont let them in and threaten to shoot Garrison, though Breckinridge tries to convince them he is on their side, when the radios suddenly go out. Breckinridge and Garrison head inside and during the commotion of their entering, Montrose escorts the President off the podium. Sarah gives to code word for the all clear and Garrison leads everyone after Montrose and the President. Meanwhile, the assassins, disguised as members of the RCMP, begin shooting at him and Montrose is conflicted on what to do and eventually decides to get the President to safety, coming clean about his being the mole. Montrose ends up being killed and Garrison is shot but they manage to kill the assassins and begin escorting the President to the waiting cars. As he is being loaded into a car, the leader of the assassins, disguised as a cop, approaches to try and kill him but when the First Lady exits her car, he grabs her as a shield but Garrison manages to shoot and kill him. The President is driven to safety as Sarah goes to check on Garrison, with Marin guarding her while Breckinridge calls for another car to get her out of there. Some time later, Garrison is forced to retire early due to the affair and says goodbye to his friends. As he leaves the White House, Breckinridge and Marin say goodbye and Garrison invites Breckinridge to dinner to repair their friendship but he declines as he is having dinner with his ex-wife to try and renew their marriage. Garrison walks takes one last look at the White House before walking away, unaware that Sarah was watching him leave from her office window.
The Sentinel (2006) met with mostly negative reviews with the critics, holding a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Sentinel starts off well enough but quickly wears thin with too many plot holes and conventional action sequences.” Gerald A. Cavis, a retired Secret Service Agent who served as a consultant on the film, said that Eva Longoria was the best shot among the principal actors when they did there “shooting school” with live ammunition, hitting every target from 30 yards away. The movie was a mild success at the box office, earning $78.1 million off of a $60 million budget.
This won’t win any Academy Awards, but this is a pretty decent political thriller that gives you almost everything you could ask for in a drama. The acting was good, with Michael Douglas (Garrison), Kiefer Sutherland (Breckinridge), Eva Longoria (Marin) and Kim Basinger (Sarah) all doing good jobs in their roles, though I will admit that Kiefer did go a little Jack Bauer on Garrison at his home. The story was pretty good and felt a lot more realistic than some other movies at the time, though I will say that the ending did feel a little crowded, with a lot going on all within the last 15 minutes. The tension and drama in the movie was great, especially the tension between Garrison and Breckinridge, and how Marin, who respected both of them, found herself caught in the middle of the two men. A good mix of drama and excitement that can make for some fun movie watching.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5