Friday, December 22, 2006

film - The Good Shepherd


Definitely not an action-packed CIA thriller on par with what we've seen from Matt Damon in the Bourne films. A handful of kids walked out with ten minutes left, joking and swearing about how boring it was. That really pissed off the rest of us. Note to rude walk-outs: Be quiet as you leave and make all the noise you want after you're gone.

The film is essentially about one of the agents in the beginning stages of the OSS and then the follow up agency for non-wartime, the CIA.

Son of a high ranking Navy official, the Matt Damon character is recruited to join Skull & Bones in university. Shortly thereafter, he's approached to join an new government organization to go overseas and watch things, do some spying, as world tensions heat up. This is 1939. At a private island owned by Skull & Bones, replete with cottages, our hero is introduced to a fellow S&B member's gorgeous sister, "Clover" played by Angelina Jolie. She quickly takes a fancy to him and tries to seduce him, but even outright asks him if he has a problem with girls as he shows a lack of interest. Within moments, hormones take over and they get it on. There's no chemistry between them, however.

Meanwhile, he still has a girlfriend who he must either leave or stay with, upon finding out that his tryst with Clover has resulted in her pregnancy. Within a week of the marriage, he's off to Europe to work for the new wartime spy agency, but keeps his career a secret from Clover. His son grows up for 6 years without knowing his dad in person. Jr. grows up desperately trying to earn his dad's love while Clover finds herself in a loveless marriage.

There's a lot more to the film, including some very shifty Soviets, some of whom you have to be friends with rather than kill, for inside information.

They make very little attempt to age Matt Damon and Angelina the 21 years or so that pass in the film. Jr. grows up looking like a girly-man, which may have been a deliberate play on the stereotype that boys who grow up without fathers or strong male role models, tend to have effeminate predispositions, although we see whether or not this is likely true, as well.

Matt Damon's character also seems like a cork under pressure to explode but we never see it. The character could have been more exciting, but first time director Robert DeNiro clearly didn't want to go for an action hero type role in favour of something more brainy. He should have uncorked some of tension, however.

Definitely don't see this film unless you have patience for something that is overly long, that lacks a fast pace. It's more of a cerebral exercise and for that reason, should do quite poorly among the masses.

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