Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 147 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: The tumultuous early history of the Central Intelligence Agency is viewed through the prism of one man's life in this espionage drama. (Universal Pictures)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. A remarkable study of the corrosive effects of fear and power on an establishment insider who puts duty above all else.
  2. While a bit unwieldy at nearly three hours and at times slow going, the film is absolutely fascinating for anyone who shares De Niro's passions.
  3. A cool-headed thriller, and a richly detailed character study that traces the birth and evolution of America's foreign espionage bureaucracy, The Good Shepherd also marks a significantly more mature, assured directing turn from Robert De Niro.
  4. Even with its first-rate cast, current political relevance and tangled mysteries, The Good Shepherd remains as remote as Wilson himself. But frankly, if the lives of CIA spies are really this dreary, they may as well keep their secrets to themselves.
  5. In some ways, De Niro does a competent job in his second directorial effort but his characterizations are clumsy, and his members of the Power Elite always seem less real people than stick figures in a propaganda movie.
  6. Where's 007 when you need him? Neither shaken nor stirred, The Good Shepherd is a flat draft of history that looks at the Central Intelligence Agency's early years through the horn-rimmed gaze of a fictional spook.
  7. 40
    De Niro is damned if he's going to make a standard thriller out of this view from within the CIA, which might be refreshing if his solemn moral parable weren't so lacking in any other kind of juice, and if its hero were less of a round-shouldered, whey-faced organization man.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 52 out of 83
  2. Negative: 19 out of 83
  1. Dec 8, 2011
    The Good Shepherd is very much a difficult film to understand. At first glance, it is over 2 and a half hours of boring, sluggish history tracing the early history of counterintelligence within the CIA. But upon second glance, the film emerges as something quite different. Is it at all entertaining? No. Is it at all thrilling? For brief moments. But all in all, the film is not meant to be entertaining or thrilling. It is meant to be what film once thrived to be: pure art. It becomes difficult when first seeing this film to see the artistic majesty because most of us have become accustomed to watching a monkey throw **** on a wall and then calling that art. The Good Shepherd becomes like the Mona Lisa, but we must first remember that the Mona Lisa is art and **** on a wall is just **** on a wall. Then we see that this film is perfect because it is art, a true artistic piece of cinema. Expand
  2. RonW.
    Dec 30, 2006
    Intense, cerebral, and as starkly uncompromising as its main protagonist, the film floats the viewer unsuspectingly ever deeper into an amoral jungle toward a chilling contemporary vision of the diplomatic "heart of darkness" that motivates states and the covert soldiers whose identities are as indistinguishable from each other as from those of the governments they serve. Evoking Le Carre's rich character development and the striking visual tableaux of Coppola (whose touch is seen throughout), Shepherd takes quiet control of the viewer's emotions, drawing us into a relentless, addictive web of conspiracy that, at the end, leaves us drained and needing more. This magnificent movie more resembles The Constant Gardner than Casino Royale, and requires an alert mind and attention to detail. When it is over, it is difficult to determine which is more brilliant, Eric Roth's screenplay, or its beautiful, calculating execution. One of the 10 best of the past 10 years! Expand
  3. DanB.
    Apr 14, 2007
    It is slow but never boring. I don't really get why it wasn't better liked. I have a feeling, too, that if you dig into it you'll find a lot of irony and no clear answers. (Which is a good thing, or, in this case it is.) About the only fault I can think of is, perhaps, in one scene with Ulysses, the music kicks up a bit too loud and there's a sense of too much 'drama' schmaltzed on to the scene, as if the director wasn't sure the point would come across without the music. But it's a small thing. Overall I found it absorbing from the get go. Expand
  4. PatC.
    May 7, 2007
    A laborious but undeniably intelligent expose of the career path of a counterintelligence operative.
  5. SteveB.
    Dec 23, 2006
    It creates the illusion and setting and atmosphere of a thriller--but there aren't any thrills. Other than the history of Matt Damon's career in the CIA and of his marriage, the only thiller plot line involves trying to decrypt a piece of intelligence, which can be figured out by the end and is only of minor interest. Expand
  6. WolfiefishM.
    Mar 19, 2007
    A film about how the CIA was formed out of dodgy dealings and shadey characters with vested interests. Tell us something we don't know. This film was a pancake disguised as a fancy crepe, with Jolie as the chocolate sauce that covered the banana that is Damon. DeNiro added one too many eggs into this mixture. He must of thought that by adding a bit of cheddar he would give it a savoury flavour, but instead we were exposed to too many cheesy moments. Too many cooks spoilt the pancake. (I fell asleep at one point, I might have missed the best bit). Expand
  7. JeffA.
    Jan 2, 2007
    Honestly, I've never seen so many people walk out of a movie. What a waste of a wonderful cast. Once again, I was fooled by the critics. They got my hard earned cash. I can save you all 3 hours of your life. Here's the entire film in 3 words. Trust no one. Go watch Departed or 007 for the second time instead. Expand

See all 83 User Reviews


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