The Sentinel Clark Johnson

This chipper, would-be ’70s paranoia movie is loaded with gaffes that a genuine sensibility would have been smart enough to avoid. Of course, a genuine sensibility wouldn’t deify the secret service, or offer David Rasche’s president-as-particle-board, or be as tragically innocent as most of its farcical conceits suggest the filmmakers are. Michael Douglas is his prickly self as a secret service agent who’s carrying on an affair with first lady Kim Basinger; which proves advantageous to a mole with designs on assassinating the president, who has no trouble implicating Douglas while diverting attention from himself. Our man has to go on the lam and convince the pursuant authorities (including a paycheque-cashing Kiefer Sutherland and the frequently leered at Eva Longoria) that the fox has penetrated the henhouse. Only problem is, nobody acts even vaguely as human beings would; the film suggests a patriotic junior-high student’s daydream of life in the service, with obstacles being effortlessly hurdled and a childish "cops and robbers” mentality permeating every crack and pore. Canadians can cheer for the fact that the climax takes place in Toronto while calling it that (though City Hall has suddenly morphed into the UN) but that climax is one of those numbers where security is lax enough to let wanted men through and all the villains with machine guns are no match for Douglas and his peashooter. Expecting a regular good time at the movies is a little much to ask for from this but it’s so frequently ridiculous that you may enjoy yourself in spite of it all. Extras include a bumbling feature commentary with director Clark Johnson and writer/producer George Nolfi, five deleted scenes (including a ludicrous alternate ending) with optional commentary by Nolfi, and two idolatrous featurettes on the secret service. (Fox)