The latest action thriller production by Netflix, Sentinelle, is yet another garden variety forgettable thriller.
Sentinelle derives its title from Operation Sentinelle, a French military operation deployed after the 2015 Île-de-France attacks to stop and pre-emptively prevent any further terrorist attacks. Under this operation, more than 10,000 soldiers are active daily who patrol and protect places and points that are considered sensitive.
The film follows Klara (Olga Kurylenko), a highly trained combatant who gets transferred back to the city after a mission goes wrong. She has a close call with death when a young boy carries out a suicide bomb attack that kills her fellow soldier.
On returning to the city, Klara, who has severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, begins living with her sister, Tania (Marilyn Lima) and her mother. Soon she also gets hooked on pills prescribed for her PTSD.
Things take a turn for the worse, when one night, her sister gets raped and beaten by a powerful man, beyond the reach of the law, and winds up in a coma. Sentinelle follows Klara as she hunts down the man responsible for hurting her sister.
Olga Kurylenko plays Klara, the skilled French soldier suffering from a lot of issues. There are several things going on with Klara at once; her transfer, PTSD, pill addiction, family trauma. She is volatile and deeply troubled.
Kurylenko is primarily known for her supporting roles, most notably her role in Quantum of Solace, opposite Daniel Craig’s James Bond. She gives a satisfactory performance as the lead in the film. She is able to show her restlessness and her response to her increasingly out of control life, quite well.
Marilyn Lima plays Tania, Klara’s happy, carefree sister. The writers have simply written her to be a victim. She is barely a real character. Lima still manages to give an adequate performance with what she is given, especially in the scenes after the traumatic events her character goes through.
Michel Nabokoff gives a captivating performance as Leonid Kadnikov, a multimillionaire tech genius with diplomatic connections. He is deplorable but his mere presence shakes up the film and grabs the attention of the audience. The film could have used more of Nabokoff.
Much like the film itself, most other performances and characters are forgettable.
The film has many strong compelling female characters. Sentinelle also attempts to show the problems that women face in male-dominated fields. This theme is tackled with surprising subtlety, unlike most other themes in the film.
The action sequences improve as the plot goes on. There is one action sequence where Klara fights a female assassin that is quite brutal but well done.
The story and direction by writer-director, Julien Leclerq, seems confused.
The title of the film – Sentinelle, is completely unjustified. The opening credits of the film give a detailed description of Operation Sentinelle which leads the audience to believe that the film would offer some critique on the same subject but the film takes absolutely forgets about Operation Sentinelle, 15 minutes into its runtime.
Sentinelle wanted to be a female-centric John Wick or Taken style action thriller but the film has a dire lack of action scenes. Instead, it focusses on the character of Klara, which could have been interesting but has been executed in the most routine and lacklustre manner possible by director, Julien Leclercq.
A meagre 80-minute runtime seems excessively long to sit through because of the movie’s terrible pacing. The inciting incident takes place almost 30 minutes after the start of the film. Even after that, the narrative isn’t compelling enough.
The writing is predictable and the dialogue is mainly used to deliver big chunks of exposition. The plot itself has many conveniences. All the characters, except Klara, are one dimensional, especially the antagonist, Leonid Kadnikov. Nabokoff’s performance cannot save the cartoonish villain.
Sentinelle is an uninspired action thriller with few action scenes and even fewer thrills. Olga Kurylenko gives a good enough performance but the writing and direction leave much to be desired.
There are both; laughably bad and incredible action films on Netflix. Sentinelle is neither and is hence an uphilll task to get through.