39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Long, complex and compelling. Rewards careful watching,
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.