Revenge Thriller: 101
Sentinelle is a no-nonsense revenge thriller. It’s a film that rushes through its painting-by-numbers plot, hitting all the usual beats you’d expect along the way but scribbling outside the lines in the process. The result is a picture that’s certainly enjoyable enough but unlikely to be one you’ll return to in a hurry.
At a brisk run-time of 80 minutes, the story wastes absolutely no time getting stuck in. We begin in the dry, war-ravaged Middle East as Klara works with her team on a risky, dangerous mission. Unfortunately this leads to disaster, as Klara watches one of her own meet a shocking end.
Transferred home, our traumatized soldier tries to adjust to normality, popping pills and lost in a sea of ghosts taunting and echoing memories of her time in the war. Everything triggers her, including a bag left on a bench (is there a bomb inside?) to a small child staring into the distance (is he a spy?), as Paris looks less like the city of romance and more like the battlefield she’s left behind.
As the film progresses, Klara heads out for a night at Club Millennium with her sister; a perfect opportunity to unwind and allow the alcohol to wash away the horrors clinging to the recesses of her mind. Unfortunately a very different tragedy strikes, one that sees Klara snap and begin a revenge-fueled mission to find those responsible and bring them to justice – Punisher style.
Despite some nice ideas and themes around PTSD and readjusting to civilian life, Sentinelle ultimately slips into a conventional revenge thriller format for most of its run-time.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, given the strong foundations this builds for itself early on, it’s perhaps a little disappointing to see the movie take such a formulaic turn. It also doesn’t help that the film tacks on a jarring “3 months later” at the end of the third act to wrap up loose ends; a thought provoking note that feels like a last-minute adjustment taped on the film reel.
Thankfully Olga Kuylenko does a wonderful job playing our haunted soldier, with some great close-up shots and genuine heart wrenching moments showing the emotion come flooding back as her world crashes down. You really get a feel for the anguish she’s going through and this is ultimately one of the big draws of the movie.
While Olga does her best to carry this picture on her competent shoulders, the rest of the film falters and stumbles into generic territory. Despite a couple of twists, every part of this movie hits the same tired and obvious plot beats you’d expect.
We’ve been graced with some wonderfully creative revenge thrillers as of late and Sentinelle unfortunately struggles to step out the shadow cast by those films.
Sentinelle is not a bad film per-se, this is a brisk, pacey thriller that does what it needs to do and gets out without much fuss. Unfortunately it also leaves with little fanfare or lasting effect on its audience either.