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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollow
Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) is a somber, quiet man. Every morning he leaves his middle class home in the suburbs and along with his neighbors boards a bus for downtown D.C. But unlike his neighbors, who presumably work as office functionaries, Wilson is a top, experienced, "higher-up" for the C.I.A. and though, on the surface dressed exactly like his neighbors in felt...
Published on 18 April 2007 by MICHAEL ACUNA

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good
There is nothing wrong with this film. It is a good, intellegent film with an interesting plot. There is nothing wrong with a long film either except when it tries to incorporate the level of detail that you read in a book. There is too much emphasis on very minor details which uses up unnecessary film time and therefore can easily lose the audiences interest. Worth a...
Published on 29 April 2007 by SHEI


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollow, 18 April 2007
By 
MICHAEL ACUNA (Southern California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) is a somber, quiet man. Every morning he leaves his middle class home in the suburbs and along with his neighbors boards a bus for downtown D.C. But unlike his neighbors, who presumably work as office functionaries, Wilson is a top, experienced, "higher-up" for the C.I.A. and though, on the surface dressed exactly like his neighbors in felt fedora and Sears trench coats, Wilson is headed for the monolith that is the C.I.A. headquarters.
As written by Eric Roth and directed by Robert De Niro (De Niro's only other directing job was "A Bronx Tale"), "The Good Shepherd" traces the genesis of the C.I.A. as it evolves from the World War II O.S.S. and central to this terrific, fascinating, intelligently written and passionately directed movie is the story of Wilson himself and the ultimate tragedy of his life: a life that begins to unravel the moment he agrees to become a spy right out of college.
Wilson, as portrayed by Matt Damon is the perfect spy if there is such a thing: he is without humor, looks like a thousand other men, dresses like a small town banker and is passionate about only two things: his son and his miniature ship in a bottle hobby. And anytime he strays from these two things, as in women or [...], he fails miserably.
The world of Espionage is a dirty business, one that defies and twists the basic notions of truth, loyalty and pride. For Wilson there is almost no room for anything else: upon marrying he leaves his pregnant girlfriend, Clover(Angelina Jolie) for six years to serve in Europe without thinking about it twice. His life is his work and his work ultimately ruins his life by chipping away at the basic goodness and humanity that infuses his core self. By the end of this film, he is used up...hollow.
"The Good Shepherd" moves back and forward in time from Wilson's initiation into the Skulls and Bones at Yale through the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961 and though the running time is approximately three hours, you are never bored for on the one hand, De Niro keeps things moving quickly and on the other the subject matter is rife with conflict, mystery and operates on the very highest level of commitment and interest.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Spy Who Didn't Love Anyone, 9 May 2007
By 
Ichabod J (Farleigh Wallop, Hampshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Good Shepherd [DVD] (DVD)
This is a long, sombre film that charts the origins of the CIA from its WWII OSS roots. It follows the career of Edward Wilson (Matt Damon), a privileged Yale graduate, up to 1961 and the Bay of Pigs invasion into Cuba.

Along the way, we are shown that the early CIA was a bastion of the Ivy League Establishment. We are also given a hard look at the types of people with a flair for Intelligence work - there are no James Bonds here. Damon does well with a character it's hard to empathise with, who always puts his work first and lets his family life suffer. (The casting of Angelina Jolie as Damon's put-upon wife seemed to be stretching a point though!)

This film is an antidote to the usual, glamorous depictions of espionage that cinema gives us. The Agency operatives here, and their Russian counterparts, seem like staid civil servants most of the time, which makes the occasional scenes of violence all the more chilling, especially as there is nothing stylised about them.

The cast here is first rate (Joe Pesci has an especially entertaining cameo as a Meyer Lansky Mob figure, whose help the CIA attempt to enlist prior to the Bay of Pigs invasion - though it is not explained that Castro had confiscated the Mob's Cuban casinos upon coming to power).

De Niro has given us a film that soberly examines the world of spies and starkly shows us the human cost of the games they play.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bureaucracy is organised distrust., 24 Nov 2007
This review is from: The Good Shepherd [DVD] (DVD)
Majestic in scope and bitty in plot.

This film quietly destroys the romantic notion of the spy in the way the spy quietly destroys everything that is sacred and noble in humanity.

A purposeful indictment of the USA during the cold war. Revealing the really nasty side of human nature.

A great film, and terrible to behold the true underbelly of American Foreign intervention.

A horrible tale of wasted lives told brilliantly. It applies to us in Britain today, to anyone who works in administration and betrays humanity for the sake of bureaucracy.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long, complex and compelling. Rewards careful watching, 17 Oct 2007
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Good Shepherd [DVD] (DVD)
If you ever wondered how the CIA came to be, and who formed the fledgling organisation, then this is a fascinating movie. Like the novels of Robert Littell, it goes into the hidden depths of the intelligence network and examines how it formed in the aftermath of WW2, who started to work for it, and how the Company took over their lives.

Yet although The Good Shepherd is about what became a massive organisation, it's told as a very personal story. We follow Matt Damon's novice agent as he becomes an influential character, hovering on the edges of historical disasters and triumphs. We see how his life is dominated by the CIA and its secrets; how the war separated him from his wife and how his paranoia pushes them further apart.

Angelina Jolie is excellent as his wife, by the way. (If you doubt her acting ability then check out Girl Interrupted). She even ages through the decades of the story with some credibility.

Robert De Niro is the director of the film and he appears in it briefly (with a scary example of what diabetes can do to you!). There's a great supporting cast overall, but Damon takes the real credit. His character couldn't be further away from the action man Jason Bourne, and is entirely believable.

In the end, the ultimate CIA man has to make the ultimate decision. Does he betray his country or his grown up son? It's a painful and shocking ending to a long but well measured film.

Don't watch this if you're looking for James Bond thrills, but give it a go if you enjoy Le Carre-style spying. At the very least it sheds light on how good people end up doing bad things to protect the country they love. At best, it's an entralling evening's entertainment.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting slice of CIA history, 30 Jan 2008
By 
S. Spyrou "Spy" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Good Shepherd [HD DVD] (HD DVD)
In summary, I enjoyed this film but not one of the best.
In fact, there may be many people who switch off half way through.

The film is a little slow in unravelling the story and definitely not the most action packed, very much a storytelling film.

The story is essentially about how the CIA saw its roots in the OSS during teh second world war and then formed as an official organisation post the second world war to protect US interests in the world.

It revolves around one key character, Matt Damon, who is acted very well although not that hard as he is not a man of many words.

What really struck me was the type of people that populate the CIA. Definitely not your normal every day family person !

Robert De Niro should be proud in adding this to his directorial roster.

If you like a good story (as opposed to an action packed fim) along the lines of Munich et al, then you should enjoy this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A return to classic cinema, 14 Feb 2010
This review is from: The Good Shepherd [DVD] (DVD)
The past 25 years of modern cinema has witnessed a continual bombardment of our senses by the 'action' films; the films that provide that hit of 'explosive cinema' such as the early Die Hard films, the pairing of Russell and Stallone in Tango and Cash, or the recent trend of apocolyptic pap that has only recently ended with a film with a headline that I overheard one cinema-goer call 'quarter past eight?'.....2012.

So used to this unabated violence are we, that we shy away from quality acting and scripts that revert to classic theatre (where you have to sit and think about the dialogue as opposed to have it given to you, and to be patient with the formulation of sub-plot). This film swims away from the banality of plots that are around today; those bereft of imagination; and those that eschew patient and forensic attention to detail in every aspect of production.

For those of you who like to absorb dialogue and have the capacity to sit and watch a story unravel without needing to hit the 'action' switch; this one is for you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good, 29 April 2007
There is nothing wrong with this film. It is a good, intellegent film with an interesting plot. There is nothing wrong with a long film either except when it tries to incorporate the level of detail that you read in a book. There is too much emphasis on very minor details which uses up unnecessary film time and therefore can easily lose the audiences interest. Worth a watch but it could definitely do with a small bit of editing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex, dark & haunting, 19 Jan 2010
By 
D. Timpau - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Good Shepherd [DVD] (DVD)
I gave it 5 stars because it is one of those rare films that haunt me for days after I watch them. At one level it is a story about how the CIA came into being, at another it is a film about life lived in total absence of trust.

Having been recruited into the secret service, a member of the Skull and Bones secret society, Wilson (Matt Damon) lives the empty life of one who cannot and does not trust anyone around him. His relationship with his wife and son is non-existent. He seldom sees them and he lies to them about his profession. His fraternity buddies - most of them secret agents and political heavy weights themselves - spy on him as he spies on them. The people who seem to be enemies turn out to be fellow secret agents, and those who appear to be on the same side are in fact on the opposite. Ironically, the only person with whom he establishes a relationship that comes as close to honesty and trust as it is possible in his profession, is the arch-enemy, his opposite number in the Soviet Union code-named Ulysses - key character in the film, and a fascinating performance by Oleg Shtefanko. Wilson and Ulysses meet a few times face to face. Very little is said between them, a lot is implied. They understand each other's position, they communicate in subtle and chilling ways (the hearing aid in the teapot, the finger in the coffee tin can), they do each other's dirty job.

Admirably, there is no trace of ideology in this film. The starting point is the Cuban missile crisis, but De Niro doesn't set out to tell a story about the good Americans fighting the evil Soviets, and this is what makes The Good Shepherd a serious and complex film. The spies in The Good Shepherd, Americans, Brits and Russians are similar individuals living similar lives and playing the same game of treachery and deceit. They just happen to be on different sides at a certain point in time. At another they could find themselves on the same side, but the game would be played according to the same rules - the same dirty, de-humanising game.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not merely a film but a work of art, 10 Feb 2008
By 
Johannes Kiessling (Germany) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Good Shepherd [DVD] (DVD)
"The Good Shepherd" is a masterpiece. If you go to the cinema expecting to see a James Bond film or Indiana Jones or some other mainstream movie, of course, you will be disappointed. As you would be if you visit an art gallery with the same attitude. "The Good Shepherd" is a work of art. It does what every good work of art should do: It makes you experience that which it is talking about and it leaves you puzzled and sends you home with a job of thinking to do. It is mostly a misunderstanding that sends you home looking at a Van Gogh or a Max Ernst thinking that you have seen a "lovely painting". If you think that, you might as well not have looked at it at all. Actually, it might take you years to really understand what you have seen. Similarly this film. You might have to watch it twice, you might need to read a couple of books, you might need to watch the (political) world for quite some time until you see the pieces fall into place and get an idea of the world you live in. You might even ask yourself how close "Edward Wilson" comes to a figure like Eichmann in expressing the "banality of evil" (Hannah Arendt). Maybe, as some critics say, Angelina Jolie in spite of acting brilliantly is just not the right actor for this film and timescale but maybe even that opens up a path to a connection with the present? In all, an ingenious film and whoever didn't like it should perhaps get back to his sofa with a six-pack and watch something else.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could Do With A little Shearing, 3 Sep 2007
By 
Donald Thompson "waldo357" (Belfast N Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Good Shepherd [DVD] (DVD)
This movie is, I assume, a morality tale on the evils of power, and how it corrupts even the most well intentioned men. Matt Damon as the lead is far removed from his more famous Jason Bourne persona as a spy in the early and chaotic days of the CIA. Covering the events leading up to and after the Bay of Pigs debacle the film purports to show the thought processses of the men who planned and executed it. From naive schoolboy intelligence officer to hard hearted world weary operative. This does not quite come off. DeNiro's direction is loose, and his role is almost superfluous, William Hurt and John nSessions are wasted. If it had ran a little under 2 hrs it would have made a better movie. Not a classsic, and tries to do too much. Syriana this ain't.
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