"Good Shepherd" not a CIA thriller
When heading into a movie, there are few that people want to last what seems like a lifetime. A person usually wants to watch a movie and not feel the time drifting along, they especially don't want to feel like the movie is sucking the life out of them it's taking so long. Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but "The Good Shepherd" really took it's slow, sweet time.
Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) loves his country and all the secrets he has to keep. He will keep them in order to protect all those that would be hurt from his secrets which includes family and friends. He's been keeping secrets from the age of six, when his father committed suicide. He would then go on to be part of one of the most secret societies, Yale's Order of Skull and Bones. And finally, he became a part of an intelligence agency that was the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency.
But audiences are given more than a glimpse of Edward's younger years. He fell in love with a deaf girl named Laura (Tammy Blanchard), but a fling at a Skull and Bones get together forced him to marry Margaret (Angelina Jolie) and leave the love of his life behind.
He was sent to London, leaving his new wife pregnant with a son, to learn counterintelligence from London operatives. His relationship with her was over the phone for six years as he was fighting off the bad guys.
Edward became embroiled in a sort of cat and mouse game with his Russian KGB counterpart code name Ulysses. To them, Edward was Mother. It was the United States and Russian always trying to out do one another until Edward's family gets dragged into the picture. However, he risks it all to keep what he knows safe.
A photograph and a tape recording have a lot of time dedicated to them. It turns out that this is the key to one of the mysteries that Edward needs solved. But there are more mysteries than keys in "The Good Shepherd."
A movie having to do with the CIA is bound to have its secrets, but really, the plot shouldn't be shrouded in them as well. "The Good Shepherd" heralds itself as a movie about the CIA, but this is a movie about one man and his involvement with the CIA. It's not even really about that either. It's just about one man.
This is Robert De Niro's second directorial effort (he also has a small role in the film). However, he made a bad decision in having the movie jumping back and forth through time continuously. The present day is in the 1960s, centering around the time of the Bay of Pigs debacle in Cuba. But audiences are taken back and forth from there to Edward's Yale days and as far back to when he was a small boy.
It's hard to keep straight which decade the movie is in because Matt Damon does not age. He looks the same from time period to time period. The only thing that changes is his glasses. He wears the same style of suit and tie throughout the movie and his hair is exactly the same way. The makeup artists could have done something to make him look a little different whether it was a little facial hair to wrinkles to even a graying of his hair.
The length of the film is obvious, it tops out at just short of three hours. It would have been as noticeable if "The Good Shepherd" had been more engaging. It's a talk movie, no action.
Not to say that it was all bad. There are some stunning moments and performances. Jolie takes on a serious role and transforms herself from a young, playful girl to a woman scorned by a husband that doesn't pay attention to her. There's also a torture scene involving a Russian spy that is difficult to watch.
"The Good Shepherd" isn't a movie for fan looking for something like a James Bond film. The intricacies that De Niro wove into the film are too subtle amongst the unnecessary footage. If only more film had ended up on the cutting room floor, as whole rather than in small portions, the movie could have been more tolerable.
1.5 stars is fine-deserves no more--saw movie opening day--friend i went with flatly said she did not like the movie--film looks great but hard to follow with all the flash backs etc--would not recommend this movie.
You gave fast and the furious: tokyo drift 3 stars and this movie 1.5? hmm...
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