The Good Shepherd

December 22nd, 2006

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The Good Shepherd

Still of Matt Damon, Keir Dullea and Angelina Jolie in The Good ShepherdStill of Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie in The Good ShepherdBrad Pitt at event of The Good ShepherdStill of Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie in The Good ShepherdStill of Matt Damon and William Hurt in The Good ShepherdStill of Matt Damon in The Good Shepherd

The tumultuous early history of the Central Intelligence Agency is viewed through the prism of one man's life.

Release Year: 2006

Rating: 6.8/10 (58,434 voted)

Critic's Score: 61/100

Director: Robert De Niro

Stars: Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro

Laconic and self-contained, Edward Wilson heads CIA covert operations during the Bay of Pigs. The agency suspects that Castro was tipped, so Wilson looks for the leak. As he investigates, he recalls, in a series of flashbacks, his father's death, student days at Yale (poetry; Skull and Bones), recruitment into the fledgling OSS, truncated affairs, a shotgun marriage, cutting his teeth on spy craft in London, distance from his son, the emergence of the Cold War, and relationships with agency, British, and Soviet counterparts. We watch his idealism give way to something else: disclosing the nature of that something else is at the heart of the film's narration as he closes in on the leak.

Matt Damon - Edward Wilson
Angelina Jolie - Margaret 'Clover' Russell
Alec Baldwin - Sam Murach
Tammy Blanchard - Laura
Billy Crudup - Arch Cummings
Robert De Niro - Bill Sullivan
Keir Dullea - Senator John Russell, Sr.
Michael Gambon - Dr. Fredericks
Martina Gedeck - Hanna Schiller
William Hurt - Philip Allen
Timothy Hutton - Thomas Wilson
Mark Ivanir - Valentin Mironov #2
Gabriel Macht - John Russell, Jr.
Lee Pace - Richard Hayes
Joe Pesci - Joseph Palmi

Taglines: The untold story of the most powerful covert agency in the world.


Official Website: Official site [Russia] | Universal [United States] |

Release Date: 22 December 2006

Filming Locations: 49-51 Chambers Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $90,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $14,142,760 (USA) (24 December 2006)

Gross: $59,901,040 (USA) (4 March 2007)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Russia: (cut version)

Did You Know?

Leonardo DiCaprio was originally cast as the younger Edward Wilson but dropped out.

Anachronisms: The list in Dr. Fredericks' briefcase that Wilson copies was clearly made with a computer. Of course, these were not available at the time the movie takes place.

[first lines]
Miriam: You are safe here with me.

User Review

Finally a film that doesn't assume you're an idiot

Rating: 9/10

After enduring trailer after trailer with endless stings of explosions, ridiculous CG-assisted stunts and mindless action, I felt very rewarded with an intelligent and intriguing film that defies the status quo of bigger and louder is better.

The Good Sheperd doesn't insult your intelligence, it stimulates it, sometimes confuses it, and forces you to look several layers beneath the surface. It feels like a throwback to another era of films when the complexity of a character was of greater importance than spectacle.

De Niro took a page from his producer's best work, Francis Ford Coppola, emulating films like The Godfather, The Conversation and Apacalypse Now. The drama rises not from the usual blatant conventional devices but rather by raising questions because of what we're not told and not shown. It requires a great deal of courage to use this style as films have gravitated more and more toward assuming the average moviegoer is of substandard intelligence. The scope of the film is enormous, yet the point of view is narrowly focused to be seen through the eyes of one man. There are a dozen of subplots, but all are carefully tied into the through-line of the story to match the main character's progression.

The film may require some understanding of American history from WWII through the Kennedy administration. It starts with the later years of the story, The Bay of Pigs debacle, and traces the steps that lead to it, one of the more embarrassing moments in the history of U.S. foreign policy. I found it a bit annoying that Matt Damon's character, Edward Wilson, barely seemed to age in the film while others around him did (the best way to determine his age is whether he's wearing wire-rimmed or horn-rimmed glasses), but it didn't ruin the film for me.

Overall though, definitely one of the best films of 2006. A rare film that makes you want to think and understand, rather than forget.

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