We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Michael Douglas is a skilled actor who often works within a narrow range, as he does in "The Sentinel." Once again, he's a consummate professional who finds himself with problems on two fronts: the romantic, and the criminal. Half of his movies, more or less, have involved that formula; the others show a wide variety, as in "Wonder Boys," "Traffic," "Falling Down" and "The War of the Roses." I might object when I see him wearing the suit and tie and juggling adultery and danger, but you know what? He's good at it.
In "The Sentinel," he is a Secret Service agent named Pete Garrison, who in 1981 took a bullet during the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, and is still guarding the president 25 years later. The movie doesn't identify President Ballentine (David Rasche) as belonging to either major party, although somehow his wife Sarah (Kim Basinger) looks to me like a Democrat. She also looks like a dish, and is having a passionate affair with, yes, Agent Garrison.
As the movie opens, another agent is shot dead, after telling Garrison he wanted to talk to him. Did he know something about an assassination attempt? Garrison thinks so, after meeting with a seedy informer who tells him there is a mole in the Secret Service -- a turncoat agent on the White House detail, who will set up the president for assassination. That this informer would know the secrets involved in this particular conspiracy seems unlikely, but then Clay Shaw never seemed like a likely suspect either, maybe because he wasn't one.
Without describing too many plot details, I can say that every agent assigned to the office of the president is required to take a lie detector test, and that only Garrison flunks. We know why: Asked if he has done anything to endanger the president, he naturally thinks of what he has done to endanger the president's marriage, and the needle red-lines. That makes him a suspect, and brings him into the cross-hairs of David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), an ace investigator who used to be Garrison's best friend, until, uh, Garrison might have had an affair with his wife.