Thursday, February 22, 2007

THE GOOD SHEPHERD - the duracell bunny of spy flicks

Someone asked me why when we talk about CIA, we dont say 'the CIA' , and I told him, 'You don't say 'the' when talking about God.'Like the Duracell bunny, THE GOOD SHEPHERD goes on...and on....and on...with nary a emotional hook or surprising plot twist to keep you going. I swear if I hadn't been on a date I would have walked out. Over designed and directed, this ponderous three hour movie drags its heels through twenty years of the life of the American secret service like so much cement.

The story sees a young
Matt Damon recruited into the prototype of the CIA - working for US Secret Ops from London and then Berlin. Married to a woman he does not love (Angelina Jolie) and father to a son he barely sees, he ascends the bureaucrat ladder until, twenty years later, he becomes involved in the Cuban invasion. Insofar as the story has an emotionally sterile man at its heart, it should come as no surprise that I felt so emotionally uninvolved in the film. Damon's performance does what it should, but with the minutes ticking on I felt strangely uninvolved in Jolie's emotional life.

As a spy thriller, the movie fares even worse. The writer tries to inject a little
Smiley-Karla competition by pitting Damon's CIA man against a KGB counter-part codenamed Ulysses. The denouement is a weak mirror of the means by which Smiley finally ensnares Karla, for all you fans of the infinitely superior early spy-novels of John le Carre. The film-makers were unwise in bringing such a comparison to the viewers attention. Where le Carre used to be deft, economical, cynical but still a little romantic; where characters were quirky, fascinating, constantly evolving; Eric Roth gives us the most turgid screenplay I have seen filmed since MUNICH. It's no coincidence.

Other minor gripes:
Billy Crudup makes a hash of an upper class English accent in his portrayal of a British spy; Alec Baldwin is wasted as a Fed; as is John Turturro as Damon's side-kick/heavy; the make-up do not make Damon look convincing as an older man; ditto Jolie as an older woman.....

THE GOOD SHEPHERD was released in the US in December 2006 and has since opened in Brazil, Australia, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Austria, Venezuela, Argentina, Russia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Poland and the UK. It opens in Latvia and Sweden on March 2nd; in Turkey and Italy on March 9th; in France and Switzerland on March 21st and in Singapore on March 29th. It opens in Spain on April 4th and in Belgium on April 18th. THE GOOD SHEPHERD is released on Region 1 DVD at the end of March.

1 comment:

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