User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 155 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 35 out of 155
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  1. Dec 8, 2011
    10
    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 beThe 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. HelenM.
    Jan 1, 2007
    9
    Thought-provoking, intense movie with Matt Damon's performance deserving of an oscar. The complexity of the character and the moral implications of the story deserves this high rating.
  3. SethW.
    Apr 6, 2007
    9
    Don't understand why so many people and critics didn't get into this. It does demand a certain intellectual curiosity and understanding of history, but outside of that I didn't think it was slow or uninteresting at all. I was impressed with everything about it.
  4. JohnD.
    Dec 25, 2006
    10
    This is an exceptional motion picture that might be lost on the majority of today's movie audience unfortunately. An intriguing story and a fascinating historical background, filmed with beautiful camera work and a great musical score. Some great performances from the cast make this one of the best films of the year. I'm actually surprised by its lukewarm critical reception; This is an exceptional motion picture that might be lost on the majority of today's movie audience unfortunately. An intriguing story and a fascinating historical background, filmed with beautiful camera work and a great musical score. Some great performances from the cast make this one of the best films of the year. I'm actually surprised by its lukewarm critical reception; critics are often accused of being out touch with the general audience, but this time, it seems as if The Good Shepherd was even too sophisticated for them. Expand
  5. edb.
    Dec 30, 2006
    10
    Intriging, suspensful through out, For those who did not like it perhaps they did not want to think. Matt Damon was teriffic.
  6. Rev.Rikard
    Jan 13, 2007
    10
    The fall from heaven to earth is only a decision away; a decision of allegence. DeNiro reveals that humanity has fallen from truth into delusion, honor into shame, from passion into a plastic-existence. As much as we find it easier to create a dichotomy for humanity of light and darkness, DeNiro reveals in this great film that we live in murkier, more confusing waters than that. Those The fall from heaven to earth is only a decision away; a decision of allegence. DeNiro reveals that humanity has fallen from truth into delusion, honor into shame, from passion into a plastic-existence. As much as we find it easier to create a dichotomy for humanity of light and darkness, DeNiro reveals in this great film that we live in murkier, more confusing waters than that. Those representing a nation's belief in its goodness appear plastic, emtionless, secretive while the darkness of the "bad guys" lurks beneath. This movie leaves us asking, "Is allegence to a nation a high and noble trait, or is there just as much darkness as in the clandestine world that challenges that nation's values?" Is it noble to sacrifice passion, truth and life for any cause other than love in its purest expression? This film leaves the viewer with the belief that genuine love cannot coexist with allegence to anything or anyone that stands in contrast and contradiction to that love. Damon perfectly plays the role of the passionless man who no longer knows how to live, as Jolie represents the challenge to such a life. Yes, it is long and plodding, but so is the fall into utter delusion. "First there is country, then God." Expand
  7. DanZ.
    Mar 26, 2007
    9
    Everyone that gave this movie below a 5 is a complete moron. This movie is not for 13 year olds wanting to see Terminator. If you have the patience to appreciate some great acting, notably on Damon's part, then you will love it. Moreover, its the subtleties of the movie that make it great, not Americans blowing shit up left and right and saving the world from evil. Shows you how Everyone that gave this movie below a 5 is a complete moron. This movie is not for 13 year olds wanting to see Terminator. If you have the patience to appreciate some great acting, notably on Damon's part, then you will love it. Moreover, its the subtleties of the movie that make it great, not Americans blowing shit up left and right and saving the world from evil. Shows you how stupid people are. Expand
  8. DanB.
    Apr 14, 2007
    9
    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 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
  9. BrunoA
    Jul 29, 2007
    9
    I only just saw The Good Shepherd, some weeks after its release here in France. I thought it was excellent. Was anyone else struck by the importance of father/son relationships in the film? I agree that Matt Damon doesn't look old enough to be a father (at his son's wedding, for example), and that his character is emotionally cold and totally unfatherly. But so many I only just saw The Good Shepherd, some weeks after its release here in France. I thought it was excellent. Was anyone else struck by the importance of father/son relationships in the film? I agree that Matt Damon doesn't look old enough to be a father (at his son's wedding, for example), and that his character is emotionally cold and totally unfatherly. But so many relationships in the film were based on this theme, or on the theme of abandonment by the father. Maybe I'm just projecting my own issues, but I found the film all the richer for this. Expand
  10. Sam
    Aug 4, 2007
    9
    This film -- which I watched again last night for a second time -- is clearly not your typical spy thriller movie that many reviewers seem to have expected. It's too bad that more people don't have patience for careful filmmaking, thoughful exposition, great acting, and extraordinary ambiguity. This is the genius of the story and how DeNiro realized it. What many seem to This film -- which I watched again last night for a second time -- is clearly not your typical spy thriller movie that many reviewers seem to have expected. It's too bad that more people don't have patience for careful filmmaking, thoughful exposition, great acting, and extraordinary ambiguity. This is the genius of the story and how DeNiro realized it. What many seem to complain about -- it is slow, it is enigmatic, it is confusing, it is even dull -- is true, in the same sense that reading LeCarre is slow, enigmatic, confusing, and even dull. But let that not detract from a powerful evocation -- a much truer evocation than most "spy" movies -- of what espionage is all about, and the true human emotions that must be faced and overcome (or not) by a protagonist in Wilson (Damon's) position. This is a psychological thriller of great magnitude that probably suffered by being marketed as a spy movie. Painstakingly made, detailed, and very true to the human experience if not the Bond one. I like Bond, and Bourne, but for gut-wrenching truth, give me more movies like this. A tour de force. Damon is terrific, Angelina Jolie perfectly cast as either the jilted spouse or the conniving college girl ensuring her future by entrapping a promising husband. She's both. It's an enigma -- the movie is an enigma, and life is an enigma. Nothing is what it seems to anyone at the time -- and this is perfectly conveyed throughout this excellent movie. Expand
  11. StuartI.
    Dec 30, 2006
    9
    Excellent movie whose ambiguities resonate with our times.
  12. RonW.
    Dec 30, 2006
    10
    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 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
  13. MoeS.
    Jan 1, 2007
    9
    Probably the first truthful movie in years (about American history anyway) , yet its greatest weakness is that its story arc is not allowed to go where the "conspiracy theorists" want it to go, namely, to the JFK assassination and beyond. Its greatest strength is that it need not go there once one understands that there are no moral absolutes when it comes to politics. To render so much Probably the first truthful movie in years (about American history anyway) , yet its greatest weakness is that its story arc is not allowed to go where the "conspiracy theorists" want it to go, namely, to the JFK assassination and beyond. Its greatest strength is that it need not go there once one understands that there are no moral absolutes when it comes to politics. To render so much truth in one movie is a marvel to behold, I only wish we lived in a world where we did not need to be so covert in its telling. But perhaps this all the more delightful for those who do know. I give it a 9 because it lacks the ability to speak to those who are not so well informed. It is too inaccessible to ever get the "great classic" status of The Godfather. This is a shame. But since I am not a great film maker (or any kind of a film maker) I cannot be sure that the complexity and lack of broad appeal is something that could be better handled by another director or if it is intrinsic to the subject matter. Either way this is a movie which will be studied by many students (of history, film, English Lit etc) for years to come. I look forward to the DVD in order to give it the close attention it deserves. Expand
  14. TommyF.
    Jan 1, 2007
    10
    A chilling tableau and a precisely revealing movie "The Good Shepherd" is not for those who want to experience action. This is a thinking man's perspective on the establishment of the CIA out of the OSS - created for international counterintelligence during WWII. The film is experienced much like reading a Kazuo Ishiguro novel (Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go) composed of A chilling tableau and a precisely revealing movie "The Good Shepherd" is not for those who want to experience action. This is a thinking man's perspective on the establishment of the CIA out of the OSS - created for international counterintelligence during WWII. The film is experienced much like reading a Kazuo Ishiguro novel (Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go) composed of carefully fragile pieces of character and circumstance leading to its conclusion more through experience and observation than through explanation. Far from a Bond's movie or Damon's own Bourne franchise, the intrigue is played out like a chess game based on political maneuvers, power plays and most of all the manipulation of human behavior. Although Damon plays a cold hearted silent and stoic agent he delivers an incredibly effective performance through the smallest of gestures and expressions; his eyes are our window to his soul which, almost without human form, is at war with itself as much as the U.S and Russia are in its own cold war. Damon creates a character unlike any I have ever seen on screen; at the same time that he is us and we see the world and our responsibilities through him we revile him and are chilled to the bone by his stare. He is the ideological good guy and the practical bad guy wrapped up in one serving as the story's political metaphor for our Country's sad and confusing condition of unintended consequences. In fine execution of understated British acting, Billy Crudup (?) as Damon's mentor shows us that the espionage game is for young men and John Turturro creates a rich and believable character with just enough weakness to show us the moral consequences that an average man's actions can cause if he is willing to follow without questioning in the name of the State. The visual references of his behavior to the conflict in Iraq is not the least bit subtle. It is good to see William Hurt back in fine form and small parts by Joe Pesce and DiNiro himself are excellent in adding to the fabric of the movie. Finally, although Jolie has received praise for her work in the film I did not find that she created any particular depth of character although, to be fair, the role is superfluous to the movie. This is not a Robert Stone movie. It is a deep, sensitive, philosophical inquiry into the political, moral, and human aspects of espionage. Expand
  15. JaneL.
    Jan 13, 2007
    10
    The film is structured around the time it takes to analyse a murky intelligence photo of the protagonist's son. The analysts have trouble understanding the photo. It is the photo that functions like Proust's madeleine cookie in the tea. This is real film-making. Obviously, a sophisticated audience is de rigueur. The portrait of the wasp in the fifties and in his fifties prior to The film is structured around the time it takes to analyse a murky intelligence photo of the protagonist's son. The analysts have trouble understanding the photo. It is the photo that functions like Proust's madeleine cookie in the tea. This is real film-making. Obviously, a sophisticated audience is de rigueur. The portrait of the wasp in the fifties and in his fifties prior to the sixties "de-repression" of society is very apt. These people are like that. And they are still in power. The film is a brilliant depiction of how unresolved issues just get pushed down the generations. The main character only reads the letter from his father who committed suicide when his own son is in trouble. This movie is not a thriller and anyone who expects one will be disappointment. It is fantastic film-making and blends the social with the personal in a very convincing manner. Bravo, de Niro. Expand
  16. ChrisW.
    Jan 13, 2007
    10
    Espionage at its' finest! An amazing journey, splendid story, and a cast that does the story justice. Thanks Bobby! You are the man!
  17. KateTheSkate
    Feb 8, 2007
    10
    After reading preceding comments, I think the lower scores may be partly due to younger age. Having lived through the Bay of Pigs, etc., the "living backdrop" is built into those of us over 45-50. So, the character played by Matt Damon is as familiar as our remembered family dinner table, or most of the "authority figures" we grew up with (under). So refreshing to have to think while After reading preceding comments, I think the lower scores may be partly due to younger age. Having lived through the Bay of Pigs, etc., the "living backdrop" is built into those of us over 45-50. So, the character played by Matt Damon is as familiar as our remembered family dinner table, or most of the "authority figures" we grew up with (under). So refreshing to have to think while watching a movie. Lately, if we're lucky, we're usually only expected to carry an unexplained detail or two in our heads for 30 minutes, leading up to it's reveal. In this film, we are challenged to carry whole plots, visual references, audio clues (the Spanish word for pig) and patterns picked up in childhood. I think entertainment is being mentally challenged. Expand
  18. GailF.
    Aug 11, 2007
    10
    The Good Sheppard is complex and fooregoes spy thriller techniques in order to accurately portray an organization embedded inScull and Bones and capable of anything, and destructive to the welfare of this country.
  19. DonnaB.
    Jun 10, 2008
    9
    Every viewing reveals new revelations of understanding. What prevented the press from ranking this polished, gripping film at least three stars? Why the paltry two?
  20. WiliamB.
    Dec 23, 2006
    10
    This is a masterpiece! It may not work for the TV zombies who can't handle nuance and moral ambiguity but it is brilliant. I am confident that if W saw this he would be totally befuddled. No wonder our foriegn policy is in the gutter.
  21. TommyD.
    Dec 23, 2006
    10
    This is an intense movie. That can't be overstated. If you go in to this movie expecting any light moments, then you won't like it. Be sure to go to the bathroom before the movie starts because if you go during the movie, you will be lost when you come back. That being said, for those who go in expecting a DeNiro film will definitely get their money's worth. The intsensity This is an intense movie. That can't be overstated. If you go in to this movie expecting any light moments, then you won't like it. Be sure to go to the bathroom before the movie starts because if you go during the movie, you will be lost when you come back. That being said, for those who go in expecting a DeNiro film will definitely get their money's worth. The intsensity never lets up and you will be gripping the edge of your seats for the whole three hours. Collapse
  22. BillyS.
    Dec 24, 2006
    9
    Robert DeNiro may have worked with Martin Scorcese on eight films, but it looks like he picked up a lot more from working once with Francis Ford Coppolla. The Good Shepherd is an astonishing motion picture that presents a grand and epic story of the CIA much the same as The Godfather portrayed the Mafia. It is long but deliberate, always tense and by the end you don't trust anyone Robert DeNiro may have worked with Martin Scorcese on eight films, but it looks like he picked up a lot more from working once with Francis Ford Coppolla. The Good Shepherd is an astonishing motion picture that presents a grand and epic story of the CIA much the same as The Godfather portrayed the Mafia. It is long but deliberate, always tense and by the end you don't trust anyone sitting in the theatre with you, much less not knowing who to trust on the screen! Matt Damon does the best work of his carreer and is the foundation for the fine supporting performances by Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, John Turturro, Joe Pesci, Michael Gambon and Mr. DeNiro himself. The Good Shepherd is a Classic Spy thriller, soaked in paranoia and swimming in distrust and secret glances. This is a Great Film: Trust Me. Expand
  23. SonnyW
    Dec 25, 2006
    10
    It's a masterpiece. Congratulations to Mr. De Niro for creating such a fine work of art. And shame to all the so called critics who wrote garbage about it. Screw you all. You all wish you made this film. De Niro is a courageous artist. Finally there is a film THAT MATTERS!!! The slow, heavy pace was perfect choice. Timing was amazing. It still rings inside me. Why was it not It's a masterpiece. Congratulations to Mr. De Niro for creating such a fine work of art. And shame to all the so called critics who wrote garbage about it. Screw you all. You all wish you made this film. De Niro is a courageous artist. Finally there is a film THAT MATTERS!!! The slow, heavy pace was perfect choice. Timing was amazing. It still rings inside me. Why was it not nominated across the board is beyond me but at the same time; the film industry reflects the political reality of our times. More comformists are voting than visionaries. Amazing storytelling -- all, the script, performances, directing, cinematography, sounds and music. Congratulations again. Expand
  24. ConnieM.
    Dec 28, 2006
    9
    Really excellent, realistic and heart wrenching. Excellent acting, excellent story. Not the normal fun, light-hearted spy movie, but one that makes you think.
  25. RoyE.
    Dec 7, 2006
    9
    Epic movie-great performances...little long but worth it in the end. Hurt is great, Damon is great and the Turturro waterboard scene is a classic. Definately won't win any makeup oscars that's for sure.
  26. TimoteuszD
    Dec 19, 2009
    10
    I didn't think much of it the first time I saw it. Slow, dull, too subdued, and the protagonist was quite un-dynamic. Then I watched it again, alone, and I was bowled over by the brilliance and craftsmanship of this movie. The fellow who apparently wanted a spy thriller with beautiful women and lots of action is faulting this movie for being different from what he wanted. He should I didn't think much of it the first time I saw it. Slow, dull, too subdued, and the protagonist was quite un-dynamic. Then I watched it again, alone, and I was bowled over by the brilliance and craftsmanship of this movie. The fellow who apparently wanted a spy thriller with beautiful women and lots of action is faulting this movie for being different from what he wanted. He should realize that this is a different genre of film from e.g. James Bond. This movie concerns the formation of a U.S. bureaucrat in the spy business, from college to middle age. The performances are all unbelievably perfect. Damon is subdued to the point of monotony, but on the second viewing you realize that that is the point. The U.S. spy industry is not full of derring-do but bureaucrats who have to put their work in front of their family and their souls. That is the point of the movie: the trade-offs that Damon must make. It is beautiful, sad, poignant, and in fact a perfect film. Highly recommended for a contemplative viewer who likes details and careful puzzling over clues, words, and gestures, as in a serious Soderbergh film. Expand
  27. Kaitlin
    Jun 22, 2009
    10
    To say this movie is for old people is just excusing the fact that you simply did not have the patience or intellect to want to understand it. The younger generation would rather be entertained than challenged. Being 20 years old and someone who found this movie fascinating, I would recommend this movie to anyone interested in working for the government, like myself. Everyone in this To say this movie is for old people is just excusing the fact that you simply did not have the patience or intellect to want to understand it. The younger generation would rather be entertained than challenged. Being 20 years old and someone who found this movie fascinating, I would recommend this movie to anyone interested in working for the government, like myself. Everyone in this movie acted how men and women acted in this day. Superb movie. Expand
  28. AnnHC.
    Dec 18, 2006
    9
    This is a powerful movie and more sophisticated than some Americans may be in the mood for. De Niro films it almost at a European tempo, menacingly slow which makes the story like a heart breaking ballad that haunts you long after your hear it.
  29. KenK.
    Dec 23, 2006
    9
    Taut (Despite its length) and kept my interest throughout although I normally do not like spy movies. Damon, Jolie, Bladwin etc. were all very strong.
  30. Nathanl.
    Dec 25, 2006
    10
    The Best Film of 2006!!! And that is saying very little. This is, as I'm sure you've heard, the best film of it's kind since the original Godfather. It's brilliantly deliberate, yet somber pace could have easily become a tedious bore. However, much like all of Francis Ford Coppola's films, (who clearly had more to do with this film than just fronting some money) The Best Film of 2006!!! And that is saying very little. This is, as I'm sure you've heard, the best film of it's kind since the original Godfather. It's brilliantly deliberate, yet somber pace could have easily become a tedious bore. However, much like all of Francis Ford Coppola's films, (who clearly had more to do with this film than just fronting some money) this film moves at a pace that draws you in frame by frame, scene by scene. This is a masterpiece of a spy film that makes you realize that all the action packed spy movies of the past are nothing compared to the fear, lies, secrets, torture, murder, betrayal, and (as in The Godfather) tolls it takes on the family. There is a lot to be told here and a lot of time that passes (about 30 years) without a single action scene or real bit of comedy. So, it is the brilliant performances of Matt Damon (who's understated performances deserves an Oscar nomination) and an all-star supporting team (Robert De Niro, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, Angelina Jolie, Joe Pesci, Billy Crudup, etc.) that carry this film through dialogue alone. There are moments in this movie where characters just sit and stare at each other in uncomfortable silences as if truly contemplating there next word or wondering what the other person is going to say. The cinematography and score here are magnificently blended together in a way that neither particularly stand out any more than to service the mood of the film, just as they should. And the editing should also garnish Academy recognition for making a 3 hour movie of nothing but talking feel like a roller coaster ride. Lastly, I would like to give props to Robert De Niro who, in only his second trip behind the camera, has created the rebirth of one of the most stunning cimatic styles ever to grace the silver screen. If Francis doesn't feel like making movies anymore than he can use De Niro any day. Expand
  31. PaulK.
    Dec 26, 2006
    9
    It's long, sometimes sluggish and difficult to follow, but worth seeing despite it's flaws.
  32. BeefW.
    Dec 31, 2006
    10
    The absolute greatest disservice anyone can do this triumph in film is to watch it as an idiot. If it makes sense to me that a movie chronicling the exploits of the core agent in the most important intelligence agency of a country is going to require more than a dime's width of attention span to watch, then I need to be sitting in front of Clive Owen a few theaters down. The Good The absolute greatest disservice anyone can do this triumph in film is to watch it as an idiot. If it makes sense to me that a movie chronicling the exploits of the core agent in the most important intelligence agency of a country is going to require more than a dime's width of attention span to watch, then I need to be sitting in front of Clive Owen a few theaters down. The Good Shepherd is a powerful, dynamic work of art, and a damn masterpiece. It seems that most of its detractors would rather be watching movies. Expand
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."