The Sentinel Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
It’s tough work taking care of the President of the United States, and no one is more aware of that than Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas). His days as a bodyguard go back far enough to even include the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan—a fateful day when he took a bullet for the Gipper. (At the risk of having Hollywood re-write history, the name of the real agent credited with protecting the President’s life is Timothy McCarthy.)
Two decades and many changes later, Pete is still devoted to his job and going well beyond the call of duty with his new assignment of protecting the First Lady Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger). Then Pete gets a call from fellow agent and good pal Charlie Merriweather (Clarque Johnson), who hints about some sensitive information he needs to discuss. Unfortunately, before the conversation can take place, Charlie is shot dead on his front doorstep. Local police conclude the murder is the result of a botched robbery, but the Secret Service’s top detective, David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), isn’t buying their suggested motive.
Determined to find the truth, David begins his own investigation with rookie agent Jill Marin (Eva Longoria) in tow. Priding himself on never allowing external influences to alter his perspective on a case, he carefully considers every possible suspect. On the list is Pete, who used to be a close friend until David became convinced the agency hero had been involved in an adulterous relationship with his now ex-wife Cindy (Kristin Lehman). Despite his disciplined resolve, as the evidence begins pointing at Pete, David can’t help but let past hurts fan the flames of retribution.
Finding himself branded a mole—the first ever in the history of the Service—Pete desperately searches for proof he is not a traitor. In the process he discovers a plot to kill the President is in the works. However, in order to save the Commander in Chief’s life and clear the accusations against his name, the former protector of the First Lady will have to divulge a major personal secret.
Unlike many recent movies, this film drops any hint of political agenda and instead concentrates on delivering a solid thriller. Although older audiences will welcome the engaging script and solid performances, there are still a few content issues parents may not appreciate, like frequent discussions about an affair between two characters and a short moment when the couple is shown undressing each other. Violence may also be a concern. At least a half-dozen people are shot on screen (some blood is shown) and the plot maintains a high-tension tone throughout. As well, mild and moderate profanities are used, and a finger gesture is depicted. On the positive side, some consequences for poor choices are dished out in the end, creating a discussion opportunity about the cost of succumbing to lust.
Protecting the President is certainly an honorable profession, and for the most part The Sentinel portrays this occupation in a way befitting the title. Yet, when considering the film for teens, parents may want to be on the lookout for approaching bullets of a different sort.
Starring Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Kim Basinger. Theatrical release April 20, 2006. Updated February 13, 2012
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Sentinel rated PG-13? The Sentinel is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some intense violence and a scene of sensuality.
Although only a few seconds of sensuality are seen, a major plot element of this movie involves a character and his affair with a woman. Violence is also depicted in the shootings of about a half-dozen people—most seen on screen and with some blood, along with frequent moments of physical conflict. As well, during most of the film, characters are in peril. Moderate and mild profanities are frequent, and there is one sexual hand gesture.
Page last updated February 13, 2012
The Sentinel Parents' Guide
A character in this film makes a personal decision that may implicate the safety of other people. How do we often justify making decisions we know are wrong by convincing ourselves we aren’t hurting anyone else?
A real Secret Service agent did take a bullet while protecting President Ronald Reagan. Click to find out more about Timothy McCarthy.
Why was President Reagan called the Gipper, and where did the name come from? We thought you would never ask...
The most recent home video release of The Sentinel movie is August 28, 2006. Here are some details…
Be on your guard for the DVD release of the Sentinel. Available in either widescreen or pan and scan presentations, the disc offers the following bonus material: alternate/deleted scenes (with optional commentary), and alternate ending (with optional commentary), an audio commentary with director Clark Johnson and writer George Nolfi and the theatrical trailers. Also included are the documentaries The Secret Service on a Tradition of Excellence and In the President’s Shadow: Protecting the President. Audio tracks are provided in English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital Surround) and Spanish (Dolby Digital Surround), with subtitles in English and Spanish.