A political thriller about a traitor in the Secret Service that came and went in the spring of 2006 with little fanfare, The Sentinel boasted Kiefer Sutherland and Eva Longoria hot off their TV roles and the always-credible Michael Douglas leading the pack of the younger actors, but nothing new; The Sentinel is content to stay within the lines of the genre.
You’ve seen one flick about scandal and intrigue in the corridors of power, you’ve seen ’em all; on the other hand, this is a taut and well-crafted example of this well-worn movie type, and those who do not need their wheel reinvented are in for a good roll.
Now on DVD, “The Sentinel” boasts an offering of special features to round out the disc; nothing out of the ordinary, but also no unpleasant double-dipping or puff pieces. So take a look through the Secret Service dossier and see what the boys in the crime lab have discovered.
Director Clark Johnson and screenwriter George Nolfi talk us through the film. It begins on an awkward foot with some rather lengthy and unneeded political editorializing, but quickly finds its footing. Johnson and Nolfi are personable and chatty throughout, paying considerable tribute along the way to the real-life men and women of the Secret Service.
They are candid about the frustrations and thrills of shooting in Washington, DC, and Johnson sprinkles in relevant insights from his time as an actor and television director. Frequent DVD viewers will groan at the requisite gag about spoiling a film’s ending by discussing it during a DVD commentary (“so watch the movie first!”).
A few scenes in the one-to-three-minute range, with Nolfi on hand to provide commentary. Unfortunately, some of the scenes are short that Nolfi’s commentary is little more than description, and more often than not we don’t get much insight into why the scene was cut in the place. Also features an alternate ending to the film.
“The Secret Service: Building On A Tradition Of Excellence” and “In The President’s Shadow: Protecting The President” total about twenty minutes, and it is not immediately clear why they need to be separate featurettes. Both deal with the Secret Service’s role both in the real-life America and in teaching the filmmakers and cast how to convincingly portray the Secret Service in “The Sentinel”.
It is clear that the filmmakers made every effort to be accurate with every detail of the Secret Service experience, and that alone is fascinating, but the interviews with real-life Servicemen explaining their perspective, letting us in on what it’s like to do their job, is the highlight of the DVD.
Menus and Presentation
The animated menus are attractive and sufficiently stirring. Regrettably, the DVD opens with an ad for Ice Age and an
irritating, overlong animation before the actual menu, but both can be easily skipped, which is the right way to do these things. The film’s cinematography sticks to a muted color palette that may lead the viewer to think the transfer is murky, but shots of the crisp blue sky, flaring red police lights or angry monochrome handwriting will prove otherwise; care was taken to present “The Sentinel” with optimal quality.