The Good Shepherd (2006)

If you want as much star power as any of the Ocean's films, than The Good Shepherd should be on your list. This film features performances by William Hurt, Angelina Jolie, Matt Damon, Robert De Niro (who also directs it), and even a cameo by Joe Pesce.

The main protagonist played by Damon is a CIA agent. The crisis centers around a leak in the agency that allowed Cuba's Castro to squash the American backed rebels during the Bay of Pigs incident. To get to the source of the leak, we are taken on a multidecade journey. This starts from before World War II, and shows us how Damon got recruited for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services- the forerunner of the CIA during WWII). We also journey on through the end of the war, and into the Cold War, and the formation of the CIA.

The Good Shepherd tips the scales at a little under three hours, so it's definitely on the long side. It is also a little confusing at times as we start in the 60's, and then concurrently run the background story minced into the current crisis. Not helping either is that there are many characters, across many years, and many look similar. Seriously, couldn't at least one or two of them have something other than a buzzcut and brown hair? Still, this long film held my attention because it is the kind of epic filmmaking that Hollywood only rarely undertakes these days. The locations were very real, the costumes were excellent, and the props were all vintage. This type of film would make the Golden Age of Hollywood proud.

Matt Damon really turns in outstanding performance in The Good Shepherd. When you've got a spare three hours of undivided attention, grab some popcorn and enjoy a big budget film that only rarely gets made these days.

Overall Grade: A-

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