The Robert DeNero-produced-and-directed The Good Shepard tells the story of the building of America's Central Intelligence Agency. Recruited by the government for covert work while still a Poetry student at Yale, Edward Wilson spends his entire adult life helping shape the world's political climate during the 1940's, '50's and 60's.
The character serves as a metaphor for the Nazi-huntin', commie-fightin', Cold War particpatin' America that's all about being nothing but the Red, White and Blue.
It should be a fascinating look into a lifetime of intrigue, international espionage and action.
Instead, it's the kind of stuff that would make up a couple of good sessions on the therapy couch.
Wilson's father, who is a Navy Admiral, commits suicide when Wilson is a young child, and there are hints that Wilson has significant confusion regarding his sexual orientation. He eventually falls in love with one woman, only to marry another who becomes pregnant with his child after a one-date encounter. Time and time again he sacrifices family and personal needs to satisfy what he thinks--or is told--are the needs of his country.
The Good Shepard is a perfect example of how a terrific story can easily go bad while being made in bloated, big-studio Hollywood.
The cast is all wrong: Matt Damon (who plays Wilson) is just not believable as a man in his mid-to-late 40s and the father of an adult son. And Angelina Jolie doesn't have the range to play his wife Clover, who seems seriously selfish and immature one moment, then wise and caring the next. Joe Pesci adds some welcome color to the film for the whole 45 seconds or so he's on screen, and Alec Baldwin as FBI agent Sam Murach is a welcome sight, but he's in the flick for far too few scenes. And this in a movie that runs two hours and forty-seven minutes.
That's at least 50 minutes too long.
The Good Shepard is a nice try. Somewhere along the way to getting made it all just went bad. Very, very bad...