The Good Shepherd (3/10)
by Tony Medley
Matt Damon is a smart guy. He
pretty obviously knows he has the range of an amoeba, so he chooses
roles that require just that amount of ability. In “The Departed”
earlier this year, he played an emotionless bad cop. In this, he plays
Edward Wilson, an emotionless spook, based, apparently, on controversial
CIA spook James Angleton, who searched for years for a mole but couldn’t
find Aldrich Ames, who was right under his nose all the time.
Just to tell you how bad this
movie is, there are a couple of scenes with Matt Damon and Robert De
Niro. Hard as it might be to believe, De Niro’s performance is so inept
that when he is onscreen with Damon, Damon looks like the master. Can
you imagine how bad an actor must be to make Damon look good? Maybe De
Niro needed a good director to get him motivated.
Written by Eric Roth (“The
Insider,” among others), and directed by De Niro, the film is hardly
laudatory of the United States or the CIA. Wilson, the protagonist and
through whom we are intended to learn about the CIA, is a cold jerk who
ignores his wife and son, Eddie Wilson, Jr. (Edward Redmayne).
Angelina Jolie is listed as
one of the stars, but she really doesn’t have much of a role. She plays
Wilson’s wife, Margaret “Clover.” In fact, I couldn’t understand what
Margaret ever saw in Wilson in the first place. She’s a real hottie and
seduces him at a party. Why? He’s a 14-carat loser with a personality
like a fire hydrant. She becomes pregnant, so he ditches his
hearing-impaired girl friend, Laura (Tammy Blanchard, who gives about
the only good performance in the movie, despite the presence of people
like Keir Dullea and Billy Crudup and Timothy Hutton and William Hurt),
marries her, and then basically abandons her to his job. There is no way
on earth that any woman, even during WWII would stay with a turkey like
Wilson. Her character is simply unbelievable.
The film traces the origins
of the CIA to Yale’s secret society, Skull & Bones. I also couldn’t
figure out why these elites wanted Wilson to join because he didn’t have
a personality or anything else that would seem to make him compatible
with this group, which includes in its roster the patrician Bushes
(Senator Prescott and his Presidential son and grandson) and
neo-patrician John Kerry.
Not surprisingly (this is
Hollywood, after all), the film makes America look bad and paints the
Soviets as just guys trying to do a job. Frankly, I’m getting sick of
the moral equivalence that is showing up all over Hollywood these days.
These people aren’t stupid; they know that history is made by the people
who write it, not the people who do it. So Clint Eastwood paints the
soldiers of Imperial Japan as just guys like our marines and now De Niro
and Roth paint our spooks as just the same, if not worse, than the
Soviets during the Cold War.
The movie has a story line, I
guess, although you have to strain to get involved. Generally speaking
(and there are exceptions), if a movie doesn’t have an admirable
protagonist, it’s not very entertaining. This is not one of the
Over 2 ˝ hours long,
fortunately this movie is so slow and boring not many people will see
December 26, 2006