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The Sentinel Reviews

You could be forgiven for assuming actor-turned-filmmaker Clark Johnson's crisply directed thriller, based on the novel by Gerald Petievich, was an above-average direct-to-DVD movie: Everything about it says efficient, modest, small-screen production except the presence of producer-star Michael Douglas, who may finally have hit the wall of his theatrical leading-man viability. Veteran Secret Service agent Peter Garrison (Douglas), who took a bullet for his president in 1981, stumbles upon evidence that someone's plotting to assassinate the current commander in chief (David Rasche) and that one of his fellow agents is involved. If only Garrison weren't having a highly inappropriate affair with First Lady Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger), he might have passed the mandatory polygraph tests administered to the entire Secret Service staff when the threat was deemed credible — then he wouldn't be on the run from his personal Javert, former best friend and brilliant protege David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland). But Garrison's indiscretion leaves him vulnerable to blackmail, and the fact that he's clearly hiding something makes him look awfully guilty, so he's forced to simultaneously prove his innocence, protect the first lady's good name (and her husband's political career) from scandal and work outside official channels to neutralize the threat to President Ballentine. His only allies are the first lady herself and rookie agent Jill Marin (Eva Longoria, of TV's Desperate Housewives), whom Garrison taught at the Secret Service Academy and who just started work at the White House. That she's Breckinridge's new partner is a decidedly mixed blessing. The story becomes increasingly preposterous as it wends its way to a G-8 economic summit in Canada, but Petievich served in both the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps and the Treasury Department (his experiences busting counterfeiters produced the novel To Live and Die in L.A., filmed by William Friedkin in 1985) and has an insider's eye for detail that goes a long way to compensating for the formulaic chases and gunfights. Longoria is preposterously miscast — those high heels are major credibility breakers since Secret Service agents have to be ready to run — and Basinger is slowly dissolving into a study in shades of ecru, but Douglas and Sutherland do crackling hostility with devilish glee, and the fireworks are nothing if not entertaining.