The Good Shepherd (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner21/02/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 167 mins

De Niro's second film features terrific performances and several impressive scenes, but he appears to have forgotten to hire an editor.

What's it all about?
Robert De Niro's second film as a director details the history of the CIA, as seen through the eyes of a fictional character. Matt Damon plays Edward Wilson, a Yale student who is inducted into the secret Skull & Bones society (members: George Bush Snr and Jnr) and is then recruited by a general (De Niro) in order to help launch the OSS (the Office of Secret Services, the government's precursor to the CIA) in 1939.

The film flips between flashbacks, with Wilson spending time in London during the war and engaging in post-war cat and mouse games with his Russian counterparts, and the 1960s, where he's engaged in trying to do something about Castro. However, the secrecy and paranoia of Wilson's job eventually take their toll on his private life, not least in his relationships with his socialite wife (Angelina Jolie as Clover) and his hero-worshipping son, Edward Jnr (Eddie Redmayne).

The Good
De Niro is a superb director of actors and he gets terrific performances from a cast that includes John Turturro, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt and Michael Gambon. Damon does well in a difficult role, given that Wilson has to suppress so much of himself, whilst Jolie makes the most of her limited screen time.

There's also strong support from Tammy Blanchard (as a deaf girl who becomes Wilson's first love) and colourful cameos from Timothy Hutton, Martina Gedeck and, joyously, Joe Pesci.

The Bad
De Niro includes a couple of genuinely shocking moments and there are several impressive scenes, particularly a suspense-laden sequence involving an aeroplane in the latter half of the film. However, the film is at least half an hour too long and the middle hour drags considerably, with lengthy boring stretches.

Worth seeing?
The Good Shepherd is never less than watchable thanks to its impressive cast but its bladder-challenging running time doesn't do the film any favours.

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Content updated: 18/04/2019 16:06

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