The Good Shepherd

Adam Lenhardt

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Has anyone else seen this embarassment? I don't have a short-attention span, but this one had me crawling for the exits. So many plotlines are introduced and left hanging. From my review:{Rest here}

Any one else catch this early? Any one ENJOY themselves?
 

Michael Reuben

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Yes, immensely. The film is beautifully crafted, impeccably cast, and effectively puts you into a paranoid world that I suspect resembles real counter-intelligence work much more closely than the histrionics of the usual spy thriller. I look forward to a second viewing.

M.
 

Patrick Sun

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Considering Matt Damon's other spy role (Jason Bourne), the nuanced counter-intelligence moves executed by Edward Wilson had to bear some irony by viewers in simply the casting of Damon in both roles.

I have an interest in the material dealing with how the need for international spying was developed as WWII became a full-fledged event around the world. I did like the use of intercutting the fallout of the Bay of Pigs invasion within a few weeks of the debacle with Wilson's own personal story from college to said debacle, and its use in using his life as a metaphor in the personal and human costs that are a byproduct of activities relating espionage and counter-intelligence.

Life as a spook is not often exciting, but the ramifications of key moments can shape national policy and other national interests, even if the import of such events aren't known for years to come afterwards. The film keeps a very low key approach in revealing Wilson's life and the approach fits within such a secretive character, always living in the shadows while acting with the best intentions in a grey world of mistrust and misgivings.

Granted, it is a long film, over 150 minutes long, so don't expect a 90-minute thrill ride, it's more contemplative of the subject material, with a pace that easily produced paranoia from the very act of watching the film unfold. The pacing is intentional, but I don't think the casual film-goer will enjoy the pacing, and I think it would work better on DVD, viewing the film over 2 nights.

DeNiro keeps it as real as possible for a film that covers about 22 years of Wilson's life (1939 - 1961) and his role in being in on the ground floor of the beginnings of the CIA. For a film with a lot of shadows and innate darkness, it's a treat to take in the cinematography for this time period and become totally entrenched in it.

The acting is what it is as required by the subject material and script. Is it scintillating, no, but it is a film of secrets, of covert actions and consequences, both professional and personal.

I give it 2.75 stars or a grade of B- (would have been rated a little higher if the film was tightened up a bit).
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Now that's interesting. I didn't feel any paranoia or tension, because none of the characters gave me any reason to care for their welfare or future. It plays out more like a lecture on the CIA than an actual narrative. We get a broad cross-section of events from Edward's life, but none of them dig very deep. What exactly was surprising or unexpected? What characters did you connect with? What drew you into them?
 

Patrick Sun

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I think it's a film about hard choices and the toll it takes on such people who work in the spy biz.

The scene with Wilson and his son at the Allen's Christmas party is all you need to know about Wilson's devotion to his son, even if he wasn't there for the first 5 years of his life in service for his country. Wilson lived a veneer of a life, and also had to deal with national security threats on a daily basis at a time where the cold war made for uncertainty on a different scale that hadn't been seen before as technology became both a tool and a weapon for both sides in ascertaining intelligence on the other side.

Sure, Wilson wasn't the most emotive person on-screen, but I understood the pressures of the job on him and the personal cost exacted upon him in this line of work. From that aspect, I responded to him having to make the tough choices in spite of the personal costs, and the weight of secrets that burdened him on a daily basis.
 

Tim Glover

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From reading your narrative Patrick I would have thought your score would have been a bit higher than 2.75 stars.


I look forward to seeing this one soon....
 

Patrick Sun

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Well, it's just a little bit long, and I think there is probably a very good 140-minute cut of the film, somewhere in there.
 

Jason_V

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God, is this ever long. I had a problem with all the timeshifting back and forth. Had this been told in a linear fashion (start at Yale, work forward to the the Bay of Pigs), I think it would have been easier. But it was incredibly hard to care about what was going on. By the end, I really didn't care who did what or why they did it. I just wanted to leave as fast as I could.

The cast is spot on, the story could have been interesting...it's just too dang long and involved to sit and think about for 2 hours and 40 minutes. I give it a 6 out of 10 mainly for the cast.
 

DaveF

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The Good Shepherd was a long, depressing, confusing affair. The previews suggest a high intensity, period spy piece; it was really something of a slog at times.

The craftsmanship, the performances were all excellent. But I left confused about the story and uncertain if I could recommend it to anyone. I don't regret seeing it, but I it failed to meet my expectations.

Perhaps most perplexing, for a nearly three-hour movie, was the inclusion of a several dead-end sub-plots. The Mayan coffee event, Laura, and Joe Pesci's Italian could have been excised tightening the movie, and removing needless confusions.

If you can enjoy a movie as an experience, or a character study, without concern for a satisfying ending, the The Good Shepherd is worthwhile.
 

DaveF

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Elizabeth - Laura was instrumental to revealing Wilson's character. However:
His final meeting with her, the photographs of their liason given to his wife, and the return of her necklace made no sense and had no purpose in the story.
 

Jason_V

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Patrick, so you're saying it's all about revenge? It's an awful lot of screentime to devote to something like that. By this point, though, I was so bored with everything that was going on and these characters I couldn't have cared less if Batman and Superman came walking in.
 

Chris Will

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Well, I have not seen "The Good Shepard" and based on the majority here I may skip it until the DVD comes out. Based on the trailers, "Breach" looks like a better CIA movie to me anyway.
 

DaveF

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Patrick - yes, but who did that, and to what end? There was no consequence to it. It didn't tie in with the main characters or storyline.
 

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