The Good Shepherd

User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 161 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 98 out of 161
  2. Negative: 35 out of 161

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User Reviews

  1. KlunkoJ
    Jan 19, 2010
    4
    The Good Shepherd certainly isn
  2. WolfiefishM.
    Mar 19, 2007
    4
    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 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). Collapse
  3. JohnO.
    Apr 11, 2007
    6
    I don't think this is a bad film or, as some viewers have said, a mess. It just lacks the artistry and depth of the films it is aspiring to, such as The Godfather II. Ultimately, poor character development and De Niro's inability to change pace and provide tension at key moments left me feeling that although it was watchable, in the hands of a more capable director it might have I don't think this is a bad film or, as some viewers have said, a mess. It just lacks the artistry and depth of the films it is aspiring to, such as The Godfather II. Ultimately, poor character development and De Niro's inability to change pace and provide tension at key moments left me feeling that although it was watchable, in the hands of a more capable director it might have been memorable. Expand
  4. NickE
    May 8, 2007
    4
    This was a poor film and not worth the time and effort of following it (and before anyone says anything about my taste in films, my 2 favorites in the past year have been "Zodiac" and "Inland Empire"). It is beautifully shot, but it has no discernable plot; though it's oriented around a what-if concerning a CIA leak and the Bay of Pigs, most of the 3 hours is spent in tangents away This was a poor film and not worth the time and effort of following it (and before anyone says anything about my taste in films, my 2 favorites in the past year have been "Zodiac" and "Inland Empire"). It is beautifully shot, but it has no discernable plot; though it's oriented around a what-if concerning a CIA leak and the Bay of Pigs, most of the 3 hours is spent in tangents away from this storyline, to the point that you forget about it until you're reminded again. These tangents (the old college flame, is the defector who he says he is, Pesci's character) are presented as subplots, but they're all so abbreviated that none of them goes anywhere. A film like this can work if the characters are compelling; however, other than Damon, everyone in the film is on-screen so briefly that they feel like stick figures rather than human beings. And Damon, whom I usually like, plays his role with such emotional restraint that it's not clear that the events of the film have any effect on him. Insofar as the movie lacks a clear plot and fleshed-out characters, and that it asks you to identify with a protagonist who's both unlikable and improbably inhuman, it just doesn't work. Expand
  5. TonyB.
    Jun 10, 2007
    5
    Not nearly as good as some think it is and certainly not as bad as others see it, "The Good Shepherd" plods along at a snail-like pace as it jumps from one plot line to another.
  6. SteveB.
    Dec 23, 2006
    6
    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.
  7. Bruce
    Nov 29, 2007
    6
    Marginally better than average cold war spy movie. I don't think Damon is a very lively actor at the best of times, but he works out okay here as a colorless government man. Jolie seems kind of wasted in what's a relatively minor role. I enjoyed the spy intrigue but thought the acting was somewhat flat in spots, and felt that some important plot points were not telegraphed well. Marginally better than average cold war spy movie. I don't think Damon is a very lively actor at the best of times, but he works out okay here as a colorless government man. Jolie seems kind of wasted in what's a relatively minor role. I enjoyed the spy intrigue but thought the acting was somewhat flat in spots, and felt that some important plot points were not telegraphed well. Overall, a 6 out of 10. Expand
  8. ArthurB,Author
    Jan 2, 2007
    4
    The film keeps changing pace by going back and forth as trying to mix up the viewer into thinking and trying to make some reasonable story that keeps you confused too find out what is going on. The only thing that is impressive is the control of Damons 'Poker" face. 8 Stars up for that. My opinion is that I should have saved my money and rented a funny DVD.
  9. ReidF.
    Jan 27, 2007
    5
    While intellectually interesting, this film could have benefited from losing an hour, tightening up the plot lines, and finding a lead actor who really looks and acts the age that Matt Damon's character is supposed to be.
  10. DeniseP.
    Apr 12, 2007
    5
    Extremely hard to follow; too many details omitted. To fully understand this film, I would have to watch it twice. However, I couldn't sit through two sittings.
  11. AllistairP.
    Apr 28, 2007
    4
    You know how some great films no matter how great they are feel too long at the 3 hour mark (except absolute masterpieces like The Departed and Almost Famous)? Imagine that film except it starts to drag at the 15 minute mark. This would have been absolute hell if I had to sit through it at the theater and I am so grateful I saw it on DVD and shut it off immediately.
  12. DavF.
    Dec 21, 2006
    4
    Slow; frequent time shifting makes film a little hard to follow; key lines swallowed, so hard to understand; dim-lit scenes overdone; some parts illogical or irrelevant and movie thus too long; Damon character as portrayed not entirely credible
  13. ChristinaT
    Dec 28, 2006
    5
    Maybe I just didn't get the movie (I didn't know anything about it before I went) even though I do enjoy American History, but I found it slow and boring. I could have easily walked out but my husband enjoyed it. I couldn't get into any of the characters and the scenes jumped around too much.
  14. kellyp.
    Dec 29, 2006
    5
    Plodding, mumbling and in dire need of editing.
  15. [Anonymous]
    Dec 31, 2006
    5
    Very slow, overly long.
  16. SteveS.
    Apr 15, 2007
    6
    To start a review with an insult of the other reviewers is a little tactless, but I couldn't resist a response to Dan Z. Dan, you make yourself look like a 13 year old boy with your swearing and sweeping generalizations. I found this movie emotionally detached and Damon was just too blank for me to care anything about him. Jolie was miscast as the meek housewife. Lots of the other To start a review with an insult of the other reviewers is a little tactless, but I couldn't resist a response to Dan Z. Dan, you make yourself look like a 13 year old boy with your swearing and sweeping generalizations. I found this movie emotionally detached and Damon was just too blank for me to care anything about him. Jolie was miscast as the meek housewife. Lots of the other performances were great but if you can't get interested in the central characters of a movie, it makes for an unsatisfactory experience. Expand
  17. hollyc
    Dec 29, 2006
    6
    Well, sort of a mess, sort of not. The Good Shepherd is beautifully shot and well acted with plenty of intrigue. However, it just needed better direction (in post production) and/or editing at putting it all together. I'm sure there is a great movie in there someplace, but I don't think De Niro quite has the chops yet to put the whole story together as well as it needed to be Well, sort of a mess, sort of not. The Good Shepherd is beautifully shot and well acted with plenty of intrigue. However, it just needed better direction (in post production) and/or editing at putting it all together. I'm sure there is a great movie in there someplace, but I don't think De Niro quite has the chops yet to put the whole story together as well as it needed to be given the material. There's plenty of places in the film that were magnificent, but there's also an abundance of "meh"s and "wtf?" Matt Damon is really wonderful given how subtle a character he plays. I walked away really struck by how good he was (oscar-worthy even). Jolie, though touted as a main role in the film--isn't really---which was kind of a disappointment (heh). All the supporting actors were outstanding though (Turturro, Crudup, Baldwin--Timothy Hutton, De Niro and Pesci) It is a very long film, though I must admit, I never looked at my watch, but I did certainly leave a little frustrated at seeing how close this movie was to being a classic, yet falling short. But it's a worthy DVD rental, and a must-see for any CIA buffs, that's for sure. Expand
  18. Feb 10, 2012
    6
    The Good Shepherd might have made an interesting love story -- Damon's character's love for a deaf girl, from a presumably humdrum background, interrupted by the pushy, establishment Jolie character. But while the deaf girl wasn't thrown out of a plane (as another, and the only non-white character in the film, will be) she might as well have been. Instead we get -- history. But it's notThe Good Shepherd might have made an interesting love story -- Damon's character's love for a deaf girl, from a presumably humdrum background, interrupted by the pushy, establishment Jolie character. But while the deaf girl wasn't thrown out of a plane (as another, and the only non-white character in the film, will be) she might as well have been. Instead we get -- history. But it's not really history: more like Oliver Stone on downers. We get laughably stock KGB operatives, CIA self-aggrandizement ("CIA", not "the CIA"), wily Krauts and dutiful WASPs. Who, in one of the better throwaway lines of the film, own the United States of America, in case there was in any confusion on that point in the era of Barack Obama.

    It's a cliche, but I think a necessary one, that there is hardly a sympathetic character -- hardly a character -- in the film. The actual history of the CIA is fraught with failures thinking themselves noble, though, so perhaps this is an accurate depiction of its work after all. As a work of fiction it succeeds mostly in hinting at what it could have been.
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Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Despite successfully creating the illusion of forbidden glimpses, The Good Shepherd slogs through most of its lengthy running time.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    75
    Deliberately paced, epic and ambitious, The Good Shepherd feels related in tone, mood and style to "The Godfather."