|Directed by:||Robert De Niro|
|Written by:||Eric Roth|
|Cast:||Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, John Turturro, William Hurt, Alec Baldwin, Billy Crudup, Michael Gambon, Gabriel Macht, Tammy Blanchard, Vladimir Mashkov, Joe Pesci|
.... ZZzZZzz ... . .... *snort* Oh shit, hold on. Let me get this drool off my chin!
Robert DeNiro's directorial skills do have some strong points, such as well established lighting, and an eye for presenting the 40s in a completely cinematic style. What he seemed to falter with in The Good Shepherd might have been in the screenplay itself. He also needs to cut down drastically on this movie's runtime. It would also have been nice if Edward Bell wasn't portrayed as an unfeeling expressionless robot. Oh! Oh! Also, there should have been more VOLUME throughout the two hours and forty minutes. But NooOOo, instead it seems like the world of the counter intelligence agency is occupied with people that don't know how to yell or talk above what is just about a whisper. That makes viewing this film extremely tedious.
Matt Damon ("MaaaTT Dammon!") really didn't have much to work with as Edward Bell. I think just about anybody could have done this part. Let's see... let's have him hardly ever talk, never smile, and use as little movement of body parts as possible. Real engrossing, lemme tell ya. DeNiro of course has a small part in the movie, mostly so he can talk about his feet hurting. Angelina Jolie is just there to have really red lipstick in her younger days, and then when she gets older and older over the years she looks just the same but with bigger arm veins. I would say that she was also supposed to look pretty, but it's too bad that I don't think she's hot. Worst of all was the casting for Edward Bell Jr. with Eddie Redmayne. Holy FUCK he's an ugly bastard! He looks nothing like either of his parents! He's a skeletal pale skinned freak with immeasurably funky lips that don't match either Jolie OR Daman. On top of that, he did a terrible job as an actor, not to mention the fact that Eddie Jr. himself is an immature little prick that I just wanted to jump into the screen and slap like the bitch he is.
Most of the movie's runtime is about Bell's years away from home interrogating spies and being spied upon. I don't mind that there aren't action set pieces galore, explosions up the ass, nor are there montages of people passing photos and classified documents to one another to some random punchy score. What really bothers me the most is how uninteresting everybody is. The only person that seemed believeable to me was Tammy Blanchard (cute!) as Laura, a deaf girlfriend of his from his earlier years. She's not in the movie that long, though, and once she's offscreen until the plot comes time to bring her back in a most expected manner, we're surrounded with deadbeats.
There are plenty of times where we get a minute or two of 1961 (the current setting for the movie) analyzing a photograph and recording that was sent to Bell and the agency regarding a potential spy. Little clues are revealed to us about what's in the photograph and on the recording. Since we're getting a small clue at a time, one can only suspect that this is the storie's "juicy reveal" at the end. Another sad note is that I saw where things were going real early on, so I wasn't much surprised once the beans got spilled.
It's hard to say what didn't work the most for The Good Shepherd. The directing? The screenplay? The movie's runtime? The lack of emotional investment in our characters? It's a little bit of all of these things. There are some interesting moments from the perspective of someone who has an interest in HUMINT (human intelligence), counter-intelligence, national security and disinformation dissemination. My biggest complaint is that the few moments where Bell's careful securing of his environment gets compromised enough to cause havoc in his life for the story's sake seemed too contrived. A SMART agent who's been in the business as long as he has wouldn't do the things he did. He was asking to get caught.
Once again, the runtime wouldn't have bothered me as much if there was more activity with the sound editing and dialogue. It lacked any spunk or spice. Instead, it daudles endlessly. Plus, Bell's son once he's all grows up made me sad for Edward Bell Sr. because I only wish that he raised his son to not be a whiny, far out retarded bitch that understands nothing about the importance of his father's job yet still wants to be a CIA agent to make his father proud. This kid is seriously stupid, man.
I wouldn't recommend this borefest unless there was some sick obligation to DeNiro or MAaaTT Daamon. What's the most depressing is that this COULD have been really good. The elements are there, they were just treated improperly. Bah humbug.