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The Good Shepherd

A 2006 drama directed by Robert De Niro.

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Espionage, One Slow Step At A Time

  • Apr 4, 2007
THE GOOD SHEPHERD may take a lot of patience to sit through the nearly three hour tale written by Eric Roth (Munich, Forrest Gump, Ali, The Horse Whisperer, etc) and directed with meticulous attention to detail by Robert De Niro, but in the end the film about the creation of CIA ("ever notice that no one these 'the CIA' just like no one use 'the God'?"). And although the script confuses the viewer by its propensity to meander over many time frames and many places, the result is a tense attention holding look at the machinations of big government and frightening big Intelligence organizations.

We first meet Edward Bell Wilson (Matt Damon, who carries the film well) as a son who witnesses his father's suicide, a fact he will hide for years. He follows in the family footsteps of attending Yale, participating in the infamous Skull and Bones secret club, and progressed to join the government as an agent for Intelligence, eventually helping to form CIA and participate in the Cold War tension with Russia and the Bay of Pigs incident. Wilson is a nebbish on the surface, but underneath lies a man devoted to his country and a man capable of maintaining heavy secrets, even from his wife-of-necessity Clover (Angelina Jolie) whom he marries solely because he got her pregnant. He is distant, covert, and seemingly cold, a trait that he will pass on to his son whose life following CIA results in tragedy.

Along the way from this personal side of the story the plot is filled with politicians, spies, Russian, moles, double agents - all the expected and needed characters for a story of this sort. The cast includes such important actors as Billy Crudup, Joe Pesci, Alec Baldwin, a superb Tammy Blanchard, Robert De Niro himself, Keir Dullea, Michael Gambon, William Hurt, John Turturro, Timothy Hutton and Gabriel Macht, each performing excellent cameos. The production values are equally strong with Robert Richardson as director of photography mixing historical footage with atmospheric cinematography, a fine musical score by Bruce Fowler and Marcelo Zarvos, and a tight editing by Tariq Anwar. The film could easily have been cut by an hour without damaging the effect, but there is something to be said for the level of tension achieved by De Niro's choices that gives us a feeling of being a part of the Intelligence schemes. It takes patience, but the film is worth viewing. Grady Harp, April 07

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More The Good Shepherd reviews
review by . October 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Good Shepherd is one of the more problematic films I’ve seen in a long time. It is difficult either to recommend it or tell anyone to avoid it. If you like spy flicks, then it isn’t a bad one; if they bore you then it is likely it will bore you.      The plot is divided between the professional and the personal. Professionally, Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) is an Eli Skull and Bones, meaning both well healed and well connected. Through these connections he becomes …
review by . November 17, 2008
This movie just goes on and on   And takes up so much time   I watched, and then I had to nap   Before I wrote this rhyme     The early roots of CIA   A group named Skull and Bones   We know that spies do much more than   Just tap the telephones     Secret agents, Russian spies   A clear and present danger   Remember not to trust a soul   Neither a friend nor stranger …
review by . April 19, 2007
As curious as I was about this movie it had me dazed. The 'Good Shepherd' always struck me symbol for Christianity. Shepherds look after their flocks so the sheep can be killed and eaten. What's good about that? Fortunately, sheep don't have the intelligence to be paranoid. With Bourne Identity movies under his belt, Matt Damon has a good pedigree to play spy movies. Is this one a killer or dead on arrival? With a budget of $85m, we've got Oscar-winning actors, writers, cinematographers, and more …
review by . April 09, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Starring an impressive cast with Robert DeNiro at the directing helm, 'The Good Shepherd' has some good stories to tell. Crisscrossing between the early '40's and World War II and the '60's with the Cuban Missile Crisis, the movie pieces together the inception of the C.I.A. A spy movie, yes, with a family drama that includes emotional casualties to match, 'The Good Shepherd' starts from a mason-like fraternity called "The Skull and Bones" and traces the ingenious steps the Allies take during The …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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A complicated movie about the Central Intelligence Agency and its agents,The Good Shepherdisn't your typical spy movie. Though it stars Matt Damon (The Bourne Identityfilms) and Angelina Jolie (Mr. & Mrs. Smith,Lara Croftfranchise)--actors with considerable experience in the action-espionage genre--The Good Shepherdrequires that they play more subdued and (much less interesting) characters here. The movie focuses on the career or Edward Wilson (Damon), a privileged Yale graduate who goes on to help found the CIA. He is a quiet, serious, and guarded man, even in the most intimate moments with his civilian wife (Jolie, in a role that wastes her talent). Set against a backdrop of real-life events such as the Bay of Pigs,The Good Shepherdis meticulous in creating a realistic timeframe. The film gets a jolt of excitement when Robert DeNiro (in his first directing role since 1993'sA Bronx Tale) peppers the screen with appearances by Joe Pesci, Alec Baldwin, and William Hurt. But those moments are too infrequent. At 157 minutes long, the film is crammed with many factual details, but the characters are shortchanged when it comes to development. Viewers have to wonder why anyone, much less someone like Wilson who has everything going for him, would devote his life to a thankless job that brings so little happiness to himself and his family.The Good Shepherdis an ambitious but flawed film. The actors do a formidable job with a well-intentioned but meandering script. ...
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Director: Robert De Niro
Genre: Crime, Drama
Release Date: December 22, 2006
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Eric Roth
DVD Release Date: April 3, 2007
Runtime: 168 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures, Morgan Creek Productions
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