Directed By: Robert De Niro.
“A senator asked me why we never say ‘CIA’ without using the world ‘The’ in front of it… I said, would you use the word ‘The’ in front of ‘God.’”
“The Irish have their homeland… The Italians got their families and Church… What do you people have?”
“We’ve got the United States of America… Everyone else is just visiting.”
“You are the guys that scare me... You make big wars.”
“We don’t make big wars, we make them small.”
CoverUps.com Rating: 3 UFOs
The Cover-Up could really include a lot here and if I told you what they all were, I would have to kill you. But, I will tell you as much as I know. On the one hand, we have the unraveling of the Bay of Pigs Invasion as a result of a so called counter intelligence leak. In series of flashbacks, we get the inside scoop on how American counter intelligence worked with the British during World War II, then how we battled the Soviet’s for dominance in the aftermath.
Along the way, there is a lot of secret whispering and coming of age, it should be noted, in the Skull & Bones secret brotherhood on Deer Island. But, in the end, what we are seeing unfold, is the birth of the modern day Central Intelligence Agency. Our man Edward Wilson was there from the beginning and is ostensibly why the agency is what it is today – a great institution from which to base major theatrical B-movie productions!
I know a lot of critics panned this movie, which is evidenced on rottantomatoes.com and some other sites, but I try to see it more from the fan of cover-ups and conspiracy theory buffs. From this perspective, I liked it and thought it was well done. However, if you are expecting lots of standard thriller type action with large explosions then it will disappoint. It is long too, I think too long. But, that is beside the point – the 20th Century was quite long and since the movie seems bent on taking us from the Second Big One to the start of the CIA, well, having a long film helps.
Note: I don't like long films, I don't like short film; I like good long films and good short films.
The film centers on the cold and gray life of Edward Wilson (Damon), who we meet at the beginning of the film right about when the Bay of Pigs Operation is botched. It is blamed on a “stranger in the house." From there, we segue way to a whole bunch of flashbacks into how Wilson got to be where he is today. We see him at college, where he hooks up with Clover (Jolie). Later they conceive a child, which comes back into to play later in the movie and is an overarching plot thread. We are expected to share the dilemma and pain of Wilson’s son getting involved with a Russian spy, but I wasn’t really moved by it that much.
There is a fantastic supporting cast in the movie, with appearances by heavyweights like Baldwin, DeNiro, Jolie and Hurt (all recognizable without first names). Hey, Timothy Hutton and Joe Pesci pop their heads in the film briefly as well. Directed by DeNiro, The Good Shepherd is at points, riveting; at others, a bit slow and plodding.
Matt Damon does an excellent job playing a cold and impassive agent, but somehow he seems a little too cold and impassive to even have gotten laid at the beginning of the movie when he meets a deaf girl and later, Clover, who is inexplicably drawn to this stiff. Even though he acts just the same, everyone seems to take to him much better than you would think. Although they do show his character acting in a comedic role in a college play shortly before he is recruited. But, that personality is not evident anywhere else in the movie. So, it was like the directors are saying – “Look, he has a pulse, now forgot about it.” When the play is over – he is the cold, impassive stone-like Edward Wilson and women seem to love him for it.
Angelina Jolie was hired to bring some sex appeal to this otherwise totally un-sexy movie. Her acting is very contrived though her role did not call for much. There seems to be little chemistry whatsoever in any of the romantic scenes between Damon and Jolie and maybe that’s because Damon and Jolie’s husband, Brad Pitt (you may have heard of him) are good buddies. But, does it really matter. The movie is about how the CIA got started, not Brangelina (though people would find that a more interesting topic than the Bay of Pigs).
It is reasonably done well, but takes itself a little too seriously. Damon was supposed to be emotionless on purpose, but I am not sure they intended for the whole movie to be the same way. The Good Shepherd warrants a decent place on the CoverUps shelf, but only when you have lent all the really good movies out to your friends and you want to soak in a broding, dark atmosphere for a few hours. But, if they took all your good movies, are they really your friends? Maybe they are really spies!