The Sentinel review

Aaaaarrrgh! Could The Sentinel be more frustrating? There are the broad strokes of an above average action thriller here – a good setting, high stakes, some twitchy set pieces and a quality cast – but the whole thing’s let down by a lack of attention to fine detail and a script that doesn’t so much need a polish as a lengthy session with a sandblaster. Nothing else would shift some of the crud that’s accumulated on it by the end of the movie...

Fair play to Douglas, he does his best with a tricky role. When Clint Eastward went on duty with the Secret Service for In The Line Of Fire, he had the bulletproof vest of playing a character who openly confessed that he was too old for this shit. Douglas has no such Kevlar coating, but he just about convinces as a... mature agent at the height of his powers. Still, it’s tough to shift the nagging notion that he and Kiefer Sutherland should have swapped roles. Playing Jack Bauer-lite – tightly wound intensity, icy firearms skills, love of incomprehensible acronyms and military jargon – Sutherland makes this stuff look easy. There’s a fine and twitchy father-son chemistry between him and Douglas, but the tension would have been so much more effective if it were the ‘son’ who went inexplicably rogue rather than the ‘dad’. Take the action sequences – all well-staged and immaculately shot without a doubt, but there comes a point where Douglas’ seemingly endless heroics simply beggar belief.

That’s the core problem, but there are bumpy bits on the fringes too. If only you could believe for a second that Eva Longoria was a real secret service agent rather than a moonlighting fashion model. If only director Johnson spent as much time understanding the whys of the plot as he does the hows. If only screenwriter George Nolfi didn’t have the kind of writers’ Tourette Syndrome that compels him to spray gobbets of appalling cliché onto an otherwise taut script (“To most of you he’s a friend. To some of you he’s a legend...”). See? Frustrating...

Counter-intuitive casting, a flabby script and some dubious plotting hold The Sentinel down as an off-the-peg thriller.

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