The Sentinel

In The Sentinel, directed by Clark Johnson, someone is trying to kill the president of the United States. Someone within the Secret Service is a mole. But who and why? However, there is no Hitchcockian suspense, just an action film in which the band of assassins are revealed quite early, and the mole would be obvious to anyone in charge of a real investigation. In any case, veteran agent Pete Garrison (played by Michael Douglas), who once took the bullet for Ronald Reagan but is not crippled for life, is wrongly identified as the mole because he flunks a lie detector test and is framed. His strongest ally is Sarah Ballantine (played by Kim Basinger), the First Lady, with whom he is carrying on an affair. After many years in the Secret Service, he has many friends in the agency as well as the expertise to track down the killers. David Breckinridge (played by Kiefer Sutherland) is in charge of the investigation; he relentlessly tracks down Garrison and even shoots him in the back (from which Garrison again emerges unscathed), presumably because Garrison slept with Breckinridge’s wife some ten years earlier. But when Garrison discovers the identity of the mole on the eve of a G-8 Summit in Toronto, Breckinridge and Garrison join forces. There are chases and shootouts, of course. The culprit is revealed as a member of the Secret Service who was a KGB double agent and is now being blackmailed, on penalty of having his double life revealed, to help shady characters from Central Asia whose motives for wanting to assassinate the president remain unclear. For more coherence, the filmviewer might prefer the book by Gerald Petievich on which the story is based. MH

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