Written by Michael Clawson
A revenge thriller more determined to deliver exploitation kicks than psychological nuance, Sentinelle is generic but brisk, and solidly anchored by its lead, Olga Kurylenko. With committed, engaging intensity, Kurylenko plays Klara, a French soldier who returns home to Nice after a harrowing incident in the Middle East leaves her reeling from PTSD. Donning combat gear as she works what should be a mundane job patrolling her city’s streets, the mere sight of an unattended backpack or a little boy with his arms outstretched cripples her with anxiety. For relief, Klara takes pills, but those become addictive. When a night of clubbing ends with her sister being brutally assaulted, Klara, already prone to impulsive acts of violence, resolves to hunt down and punish the culprit.
Both the narrative and the characters lack texture. Just take the bland description we get of the father of the wealthy and well-protected Russian that Klara suspects was her sister’s assailant: “tech genius with a fortune” is precise enough for director Julien Leclercq, who co-wrote the script with Matthieu Serveau. The film’s look is arguably a bit flavorless too: the color palette is a muddy blend of camo green and beige. While it’s no great character study, where Leclercq does find a modicum of success is in crafting a lean and propulsive action movie. Slow motion used during the fist fights and shootouts doesn’t highlight any remarkable choreography, but it does pleasurably vary the film’s scene-to-scene rhythm. The pacing works, and Kurylenko generously takes an underwritten role seriously. On screen for the film’s entirety, she captivates from beginning to end.