Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro
Based loosely on real life people and historical events.
The various ingredients of THE GOOD SHEPHERD come together nicely in the final product. Eric Rothís screenplay is patient yet deliberate in its execution, confidently telling a multi-decade story while playing with its timeline and structure in order to reveal the intricacies of the Intelligence world and its effect on Wilson and his family. De Niro follows up the underrated A BRONX TALE with another great turn behind the camera, making the most out of the different locales and time periods. The acting is also strong across the board, including supporting roles from Angelina Jolie, John Turturro, Billy Crudup, William Hurt, and 30 seconds of Joe Pesci. However, Matt Damon ultimately carries the movie. As Wilson, heís relentlessly solemn and humorless, but still manages to show through with an interior performance. And even though the character goes from college to middle age without any Rick Baker-like prosthetics, you can always tell Wilsonís age just by the way Damon carries himself.
With all these factors working for it, THE GOOD SHEPHERD starts off strong, balancing the various story elements in an intriguing way, but it canít quite keep up the steam for all three of its hours. I was never bored or disinterested, but it felt like a three hour movieóand not in the epic ďGODFATHERĒ sense. It moves slowly, consisting mostly of talking heads and not a lot of action, and after the first couple hours I was getting some of the many characters confused. On that same note, the end felt a little rushed and anti-climactic, leaving me wanting to see more of certain characters, especially Turturroís charismatic CIA agent and Tammy Blanchard as Wilsonís deaf girlfriend. Not to sound too fickle, but THE GOOD SHEPHERD was long, but not long enough.
Oh, Matt Damon also appears in drag for about 30 seconds. I figure that might pique some of your interests.
Deleted Scenes (15:59): The seven scenes address one of the gripes I had, fleshing out some more of the supporting character roles. The movie is already long enough so these were wisely excised, but itís still nice to see the footage here.
Extra Tidbit: This movie reminds me that Joe Pesci needs more work. And on an entirely unrelated note, so does Leslie Nielsen.