The Sentinel was a movie that has no real purpose in this world other than to show a bizarre president who has totally different motives to the one that the United States presently boasts. We only know this because the president has two lines of political dialogue, but it’s just enough time to express the leanings of the production crew.
The Sentinel simply stops making any sense after a time. I drifted into my thoughts for about thirty seconds and, when I came to, I found myself thinking “Why are they on a boat?” I could not, for the life of me, tell you.
16 Blocks, on the other hand, was a more interesting film that offered somewhat compelling characters and infinitely more sense. It was of the calibre of one of the better gritty early nineties cop films and applied itself to its genre clichés with relish enough to make it an enjoyable film despite its awful, awful Karate Kid style conclusion.
Yet The Sentinel is the bigger of these films. In Australia, 16 Blocks received essentially no advertising and disappeared without trace, while The Sentinel is still mystifying people with its mock thrilling storyline.
I think that the ultimate irony of these films is that Bruce Willis plays a “I’m too old for this shit” sort of role (the traditional ground of Richard Donner cop films), while Michael Douglas is allowed to shoot Canadians and sleep with Kim Basinger without prejudice.
The Sentinel tells the tale of Michael Douglas chasing after three people with various accents in an attempt to stop them from killing the president. Yet Kiefer Sutherland believes Michael Douglas is guilty and will stop at nothing to stop him!*
16 Blocks, on the other hand, details the quest of Jack Moseley (Bruce Willis) trying to take Eddie (Mos Def) to court before he is killed by corrupt cop Frank Nugent (David Morse).
16 Blocks takes every cliché – drunken policeman past his prime, reforming criminal with a heart of gold, corrupt policeman without a soul – and throws them into a film that’s made by a director who has had quite a bit of experience and therefore knows what he is doing. Richard Donner’s film is presented in shades of grey and feels like a legitimate adventure on the scale of human redemption.
The Sentinel presents a story that looks interesting in the trailers: it could have worked if Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Douglas played cat and mouse rather than Douglas running for five minutes before thinking “eh, screw this, it’s time to bust some heads”.
16 Blocks features some knee jerk violence but is mostly spent in escape; The Sentinel decides it can’t be bothered any more and decides that the audience needs to see some shooting. Bruce Willis can talk someone down, but Michael Douglas will slam a fridge door into a friend’s head to achieve that which he is after. Not only will he do that, he’ll do it with incredibly pretentious camera work that takes you out of the movie because you find yourself remembering how much the X-Men trilogy relied on crappy camera techniques that were “cool”. Yes, The Sentinel is hip, but it makes no sense.
If I have to choose between a film that has simple motivations such as simple justice fulfilment and one that features an inexplicable plot to kill the president and based around flimsy love polygons and a couple of close ups of Eva Longoria’s buttocks, I’ll take Bruce Willis any day of the week.
Yes, killing the president is bad, but so too is choosing a conclusion that involves shoot outs with people wearing M1 helmets and jackets bearing the Canadian flag. Hollywood, you’ve revealed your true target at last: Canada.
No blood for maples!
Sadly, all I could think of after uploading this picture was slash.
*I considered making that less redundant, but hey, they should have made the movie that way.