To paraphrase rapper Beanie Siegel, I’m going to be short and to the point like Steve Nash. The Good Shepherd? Didn’t care for it that much. Yes, it was a good film in the sense that it was well-made and well-acted, but there was something missing. The first 10-15 minutes almost bored me to tears. I’m not a child; my attention span is greater than that of a gnat, but come ON. Matt Damon (The Departed) is such a solitary figure in this movie, you really have to care about the story in order to care about the movie — and I didn’t. The subject matter was fascinating, I just don’t like the way it was handled. This is the sort of movie that some critics adore because of its pedigree, but I was not too impressed.
The Good Shepherd tells the story of the founding of the CIA through the eyes of Edward Wilson (Damon), an ivy-league educated well-bred young man selected for covert government service while still at Yale. The movie spans about 25 years, showing us how Edward is the perfect man for the job: dispassionate in the course of duty, possessing both a keen intelligence and superb instincts. Sounds a lot more exciting than it is, but perhaps that’s the way it works in the real world. The only time we really see any emotion from Edward is when he spends time with his true love, a young woman he meets while at Yale. Their relationship is doomed, for reasons I won’t go into. Suffice it to say he ends up marrying someone else (Angelina Jolie) and is left to wonder about what might have been. The movie really isn’t about Edward’s personal life beyond the way it’s impacted by his service to his government and country. He is driven by an unrelenting loyalty, sacrificing all others for his sense of duty and belief in America. The movie is all very cloak and dagger, but not in an interesting, captivating way. It’s all nebulous and more than a little long at 2 hours and 45 minutes. I feel like I am supposed to like this movie a whole lot more than I did. Deniro directed it for crying out loud. You’ve got two of my favorite movie stars in Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie…but I think it’s one of the least satisfying political thrillers I’ve ever seen. I’d give it a 7/10, and that means wait for Netflix.
Edit: I never read other reviews before I write my own. After I wrote this review I went to rottentomatoes.com and it’s rotten! I feel very validated now. I knew this movie sucked out loud. Nah, I exaggerate. It was just very OK.