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Review: The Good Shepherd

Dec. 25, 2006by: Tim Goernert

The story follows the career of Edward Wilson, one of the first operatives and covert founders of the CIA. His life-time commitment to this organization and the sacrifices he made, all in the belief that what he was doing was for the greater good of America is explored. Deception, intrigue, people who aren't who they seem and an interesting look of what went on in the "back rooms" of the government ensue.

This was a very intriguing look at the birth of the CIA. The casual movie-goer may feel a bit overwhelmed by the length of the movie (super close to the 3-hour mark), but for the most part, this is a character driven flick, so for those of you who are into this type of movie, you will thoroughly enjoy it. It was a heavy spy drama that at times (for me, at least) was a little hard to follow due to all of the cryptic discussions with the characters and the events that were unfolding in the background. I wanted to understand everything, but some of it just went right over my head, although I did "get" most of it. Perhaps another viewing will fill in the rest of the blanks.

All the characters were remarkable! It's always interesting to see the type of characters that are involved with these kinds of "spy" organizations. Of course, there were typical secretive men in black" except here, they would wear beige trench coats and hats. Matt Damon plays Edward Wilson. This was a big role for him and he played it perfectly! He starts off as an Ivy League graduate and a member of the secret society known as the "Skull and Bones" and then gets recruited to join this counter intelligence organization. His stone cold calculating attitude, to the point of almost being robotic, was a great change from the roles we're used to seeing Damon in.

Two other characters that really stood out for me were Michael Gambon's character, Dr. Fredericks, who was Damons mentor and Tammy Blanchard's character, Laura, who played one of Damon's early love interests (she's adorable by the way!). These two were exceptional and at least deserve a supporting nomination when Oscar time comes around. Oh yeah, it was also nice to see Joe Pesci come out of hiding already! We all miss you buddy!

Robert De Niro did a fantastic job at directing this film. In fact, I think I even liked it more than his last directing gig, A BRONX TALE. Some may argue that the way the story was pieced together going back and forth in the past to the present may be hard to follow, but I thought it worked well and it helped the story come together nicely. Some may even complain about the length, but De Niro made it in such a way that you just get sucked into the story. I think my only beef with the film was that they should have made Damon's hair grayer as he got older. Not so much because of his "aging", but moreso because of his stressful lifestyle. No biggy though.

All in all, I liked it, although I can see the length of the film turning some people off, especially because there isn't a lot of action (or any for that matter). It is a character-driven film and it's a little hard to follow at times, but as far as spy dramas go, this one is packed with cryptic messages and well produced overall.

Apocalypto (8/10)
Blood Diamond (7/10)
Borat (9/10)
Crank (8/10)
Deja Vu (6/10)
Eragon (4/10)
Flushed Away (4/10)
Grudge 2 (5/10)
Harsh Times (7/10)
Last King of Scotland (6/10)
Rocky Balboa (7/10)
Stranger Than Fiction (7/10)
The Departed (9/10)
The Holiday (6/10)
The Nativity Story (7/10)
The Prestige (8/10)
The Pursuit of Happyness (6/10)

-- by Tim Goernert

Source: JoBlo.com

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