Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Good Shepherd

"The Good Shepherd" (Robert DeNiro, 2006) Francis Ford Coppola was the fellow who spearheaded this project, and bless my tapped telphone line it has that same sort of "Godfather" family epic-feel to it, with just enough schmaltz and soap to keep it from getting too caught up in its overarching theme of constant paranoia. It also carries the similar pall of "the sins of the father" to it. You just know that the ambitions of the men in the movie will doom their families, if not themselves. Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) is recruited out of college to join the Skull and Bones secret society, and with his first ratting out of a professor (Michael Gambon), his career as a spy takes the fast track. It's derailed slightly when a quickie with the Boss's precocious daughter (Angelina Jolie) results in pregnancy and a marriage of convenience. Then, when fencing with the Soviets keeps him overseas for years, his fairweather family-life causes a Cold War on both sides of the Atlantic. Soon, Wilson learns, a little too late, that he should trust no one, as he plays against (and develops a mutual admiration with) his equal in the KGB. But its the same old story we've gotten used to in the spy genre. Everybody's a snake looking out for Number One, and trying to make "that Big Score," and yeah, okay, there's only a gray flannelled thread of difference between the spy network and Corporate America. Which brings us right back to "Godfather" country. CIA-Mafia-GM, there's no (*yawn*) difference. The only likable character in the entire film is director Robert DeNiro's turn as "Bill Sullivan"--a veiled version of Bill Donovan, but he's there for two quick dashes of cold-water perspective and is gone. Matt Damon seems not to age at all during the film, whereas Angelina Jolie does seem to gain twenty years. This film came out at the same time as "The Good German," and I was hoping someone would combine them into "The Good German Shepherd." Well, I can dream...

It's interesting (well, to me, anyway) to wonder why Damon chose this part, seeing as how his "Bourne" films are merely the "fantasy" side of the "spy" franchise. If he thought that playing the "button-pusher," rather than the blunt instrument was an acting "stretch," he couldn't be more wrong.

No comments: