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"THE GOOD SHEPHERD"
(2006) (Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Heavy Extreme Heavy Heavy
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor Extreme None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Extreme Extreme Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A U.S. government agent tries to find out who tipped off the enemy in the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, all as we see his formative years in the agency leading up to that point.
PLOT:
It's 1961 and the American-led Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba has failed, leading CIA agent Ray Brocco (JOHN TURTURRO) to tell his cohort Edward Wilson (MATT DAMON) that he believes they have a mole somewhere in their midst. This is troubling to Edward as he's been with intelligence agency since its inception under the guidance of Bill Sullivan (ROBERT DE NIRO) who was tapped by the President to help create a peacetime successor to the Office of Strategic Services. Under the command of Director Philip Allen (WILLIAM HURT) and his subordinate Richard Hayes (LEE PACE), Edward sets out to find the source of the leak about the invasion, meaning he has little time for his wife Margaret (ANGELINA JOLIE) or their adult son, Edward Jr. (EDDIE REDMAYNE).

As he does, we see various flashbacks to the events that transformed Edward into the agent he'd become, starting with his induction into Yale's Skull & Bones secret society in 1939, a time during which he got "Clover," a.k.a. Margaret, a fraternal brother's sister, pregnant despite dating him deaf student Laura (TAMMY BLANCHARD). It's during those school years that FBI agent Sam Murach (ALEC BALDWIN) approaches Edward to have him report on the questionable social activities of poetry professor Dr. Fredericks (MICHAEL GAMBON), an act that introduces the young man to the world of espionage.

Shortly after marrying Margaret, Edward is sent to post WWII Europe, where he meets English counterparts such as Arch Cummings (BILLY CRUDUP) and soon becomes involved in counterespionage against the Russians who are also after German war secrets and technology. As the years pass by, Edward becomes even deeper entrenched in the spy world, leading to marital issues back home. With his story unfolding in those flashbacks, Edward continues to try to find the source of the leak from somewhere within his organization, unsure of the potential ramifications should he succeed.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teens might be interested, which also holds true for anyone who's a fan of one or more cast members.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For some violence, sexuality and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MATT DAMON plays a longtime CIA agent who's seen working on a problem in the present (circa 1961) as well as in his formative years working in the spy world. He has various sexual encounters during those times, including impregnating Margaret who he's just met, as well as later cheating on her.
  • ANGELINA JOLIE plays his long-suffering wife who must raise their child (stemming from their one-night stand) in his absence, and admits to cheating on him during his years away from home.
  • ALEC BALDWIN plays an FBI agent who first recruited Edward into the world of espionage and now informs him of the actions of various CIA officials. He smokes and briefly uses strong profanity.
  • JOHN TURTURRO plays Edward's CIA partner who uses strong profanity and tortures an informant while trying to get information from him.
  • TAMMY BLANCHARD plays a deaf college student who becomes Edward's girlfriend back in those days and later has a one-night stand with him after he's married.
  • BILLY CRUDUP plays a British intelligence agent who works with Edward in post WWII Europe.
  • ROBERT DE NIRO plays a highly influential man tapped to help form the CIA. He drinks and uses some strong profanity while advising Edward.
  • MICHAEL GAMBON plays Edward's poetry professor in college who's suspected of being a Nazi sympathizer, but really is a British spy. He also smokes.
  • WILLIAM HURT plays the shady director of the CIA who orders Edward to find their mole.
  • LEE PACE plays another CIA supervisor who works with Edward and knows him from back in their college days.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 4 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Brief sexually related dialogue is present, while several sexual encounters are seen (with partial nudity, movement, and sounds), heard, or implied.

    Nonsexual male nudity (bare butts, brief full frontal) is present, and a middle-aged man is noted as having homosexual tastes. Some of those sexual encounters involve extramarital affairs, thus leading to tense family scenes (that also include a strained marriage due to a multi-year, work-related separation). Other related material includes a flashback to a boy finding his father immediately after the latter's suicide.

    Violence includes several murders and deaths (including by shooting, being thrown from a plane, and two suicides, etc.), while a man is tortured by the CIA for information and brief archival footage of the Bay of Pigs incident is seen. Some of that has rather bloody results (including the arrival of a severed finger as a signal to others) and those scenes and other moments of potential peril might be unsettling or suspenseful to viewers.

    Various bad attitudes are present (espionage, murder, extramarital affairs, etc.), while various characters smoke and/or drink throughout the film, while an informant is given LSD as part of his torture.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's some handheld, archival footage in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • We see young Edward's father with a drink.
  • Miscellaneous people have drinks at a reception.
  • Edward and Laura have drinks at a club as do others.
  • Miscellaneous people have drinks at a reception, including Margaret who carries some champagne.
  • Miscellaneous people have drinks with dinner.
  • Miscellaneous people drink at a wedding reception.
  • Miscellaneous people drink.
  • Edward and his assistant have wine.
  • Sullivan has a drink by him that he says Margaret got for him.
  • Edward, Margaret, and another couple have wine with dinner.
  • Margaret has a drink.
  • Philip, Sullivan, Edward, and others have champagne at a party.
  • In the production of a play, there's talk of drinking vodka.
  • Laura and Edward have wine.
  • Miscellaneous people have wine.
  • The CIA gives a Russian informant LSD to try to get him to talk (it eventually leads to his successful suicidal leap out of the room).
  • Margaret and others have wine.
  • Edward's young adult son says he's off to get champagne for his parents to celebrate his pending marriage.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • During the Bay of Pigs military operation, we see archival footage of a body being pulled out of the water and other bodies in the sand, but there's no blood.
  • We see male pledges of a secret society wrestling nude in some mud (we see some bare butts) and current members urinating down onto them from above.
  • Edward comments about being 6-years-old and hearing a gunshot from his father's office and then going there (which we see) and finding his dead father lying on the floor with a small pool of blood next to him (from a suicide).
  • A suspected female spy is shot twice and murdered, with a little blood on her and an adjacent wall.
  • A severed finger is discovered in a can of coffee (as a signal to others that a spy was found).
  • We see urine running down a boy's pants leg as he sits on Santa's lap. We then see the boy in just his underwear as Edward cleans him.
  • Ray punches a Russian informant in the face, knocking him over in his chair and slightly cutting his nose. He then repeatedly slaps this man's face, eventually bloodying it to the point that blood runs down his face to his chest. Later, the informant's face is all bloody and swollen. Later, that man runs toward a closed window and crashes through it. We don't see the impact below, but do see a long view of his nude body on the street with a pool of blood around him.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some may view all of the spying activity as having bad attitudes, and the murderous behavior certainly signals that.
  • About a new intelligence division he's helping staff, Sullivan says there will be no Jews, Negroes and only a few Catholics, adding that's because he's one of the latter.
  • Edward cheats on his girlfriend Laura with Margaret.
  • When they first meet, Ray has a bad attitude toward Edward.
  • Arch comments on Dr. Fredericks' "ridiculous sexual tastes" (for men) and that he isn't discriminating in his partners.
  • Edward cheats on his wife with several different women.
  • Margaret admits that while Edward was gone for six years working, she was with a man once. Edward then admits that he made a similar "mistake."
  • A severed finger is discovered in a can of coffee (as a signal to others that a spy was found).
  • Ray tortures an informant (in various ways, including giving him LSD) to try to get him to talk.
  • A white man lists what certain ethnic types have, including "niggers" and their music.
  • A Russian spy tells Edward he can protect Edward's son as long as Edward helps him when assistance is needed in the future. He then adds that Edward must determine whether his son or country is more important to him, with Edward eventually choosing the latter.
  • We hear that Philip was caught doing improper/illegal thinks as director.
  • When asked why it's not called "the" CIA, one agent replies, "Do you put 'the" in front of God?" (Some viewers might not like the comparative reference).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may be unsettling or suspenseful to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • Sam tells Edward to be careful (but we don't know exactly from what or whom).
  • Edward calls his son and tells him to be careful (but we don't know exactly from what or whom).
  • Edward comments about being 6-years-old and hearing a gunshot from his father's office and then going there (which we see) and finding his dead father lying on the floor with a small pool of blood next to him (from a suicide).
  • Edward copies names from his professor's binder for Sam and is nearly caught in the process.
  • Knowingly signaling his own demise, since he knows the powers that be wanted him eliminated, Dr. Fredericks ties Edward's shoe (the signal for the hit to take place).
  • We see a distant view of men struggling with an agent who's to be killed. That agent is then taken off, we hear anguished screaming, and Edward runs up just in time to see men roll the agent's body into a body of water.
  • A suspected female spy is shot twice and murdered, with a little blood on her and an adjacent wall.
  • Planes drop grasshoppers or locusts down onto people below them in Cuba (causing the latter to flee).
  • Sullivan warns Edward about Philip, the director of the CIA.
  • Ray punches a Russian informant in the face, knocking him over in his chair and slightly cutting his nose. He then repeatedly slaps this man's face, eventually bloodying it to the point that blood runs down his face to his chest. Later, the informant's face is all bloody and swollen. His clothes are then stripped off and we briefly and partially see his full frontal nudity as the torture continues, including putting a hood on him, subjecting him to ice water, and giving him LSD. The man then stands up fully nude (Ray's head in the foreground of the shot blocks our view of his crotch), runs toward the closed window and crashes through it. We don't see the impact below, but do see a long view of his nude body (bare butt) on the street with a pool of blood around him.
  • A female spy is grabbed and then thrown from a plane in flight. We see her falling through the air, but don't see the deadly impact below.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • During the Bay of Pigs military operation, we see brief footage of artillery being fired and a plane shot down.
  • A sword is held during an initiation ceremony.
  • We hear the sound of distant bombings in London during WWII in several scenes.
  • A suspected female spy is shot twice (with an unseen weapon) and murdered, with a little blood on her and an adjacent wall.
  • Soldiers with rifles raid a party and forcibly take several people away.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "My f*cking feet are killing me," "Tell me your f*cking name," "Sitting around playing with their pr*cks," "They don't like sharing the royal t*t," "A little short between the legs," "Where the hell is the Navy?" "Pissing contest," "Do you want to look up my ass too?" (nonsexual), "Serious S.O.B." and "Greedy bastards."
  • It's possible the film could inspire kids to take up some form of spying on others.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A suspected spy is suddenly shot and killed.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of ominous, suspenseful and some dramatic music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 4 "f" words, 2 "s" words, 1 slang term for male genitals ("pr*cks"), 1 for breasts ("t*t"), 1 ass, 1 damn, 1 hell, and 1 S.O.B.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see grainy, black and white footage of a couple having sex in bed, but the view is anything but clear. That said, we can make out the man's bare back, see some slight movement, and hear some heavy breathing (in what later is revealed to be surveillance footage of said encounter).
  • We hear audio from the above sex surveillance tape, with some heavy breathing. We later see a grainy, black and white still photo of that encounter (that, like above, doesn't show any details except a possible view of his bare butt, but the image quality is so bad it's hard to tell).
  • We see male pledges of a secret society wrestling nude in some mud (we see some bare butts) and current members urinating down onto them from above. We later see Edward nude in front of members for more initiation, but nothing is seen. We then see a side view of him lying nude (facing up, but no genitals are seen, although the side of his bare butt is).
  • In college, Edward's male college professor possibly seems to be coming on to him, taping the young man's shoulder with his cane.
  • Laura asks fellow student Edward if he'd like to get a room for them. The scene then cuts to them passionately kissing and starting to undress in that room (she in a slip with the straps down off her shoulder), but she then stops them, saying she can't (have sex).
  • Margaret shows some cleavage.
  • About a job he's proposing to Edward, Sullivan says it's not about a bunch of fraternity boys sitting around "playing with their pr*cks."
  • Margaret shows cleavage as there's kissing on the neck and lips with Edward. She gets on top of him, there's the motion of her dress coming up and her undoing his pants (nothing is seen) and then him rolling over on top of her. Before she'll let him have sex, she repeatedly asks if he loves her (they've just met). We then see them having sex (a full side shot with movement as well as an overhead head and shoulders view) and hear related sounds. We later hear she got pregnant from this encounter.
  • We see Edward kissing Laura on the beach, but they're interrupted by Margaret's brother informing Edward that Margaret is pregnant. Laura, who can read lips, sees that news and then leaves.
  • We see a flashback to the above, grainy and black and white footage of the sexual encounter.
  • About British intelligence, Philip says they don't like sharing "the royal t*t" with commoners (about them sharing info with the CIA).
  • While typing up a report, Edward asks Ray how you spell syphilis, with Ray saying it's just one "L" and that he's never had it (during mention that Hitler had it).
  • Arch comments on Dr. Fredericks' "ridiculous sexual tastes" (for men) and that he isn't discriminating in his partners.
  • About the U.S. having used the atomic bombs to end WWII, Philip says the Russians are now feeling a little "short between the legs."
  • Edward's assistant has him over for dinner (overseas) and then asks if he'd like to stay (for the night). He asks if she wants him to, she says very much, and we then see them together in bed after sex. We then see her in a towel along with a brief glimpse of her bare breast.
  • We see an old photo of various men in era-appropriate swimsuits.
  • Edward cheats on Margaret by having sex with his former lover Laura who he runs into at a play. We see them having sex under the covers (his bare back, movement between her legs under the covers, and her sounds).
  • During interrogation of a Russian informant, the man's clothes are stripped off him and we briefly and partially see his full frontal nudity. Moments later, the man then stands up fully nude (Ray's head in the foreground of the shot blocks our view of his crotch), runs toward the closed window (we see his bare butt) and crashes through it. We don't see the impact below, but do see a long view of his nude body (bare butt) on the street below.
  • We see Edward's young adult son in just a towel.
  • SMOKING
  • Sam smokes more than 5 times, Philip (lit and unlit pipes), Arch and Edward Jr. each smoke several times, Dr. Fredericks and Margaret smoke at least once (and she has a cigarette by her in another scene), while a whole host of minor and miscellaneous characters smoke (mostly cigarettes, along with pipes and cigars) in many different scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Edward comments about being 6-years-old and hearing a gunshot from his father's office and then going there (which we see) and finding his dead father lying on the floor with a small pool of blood next to him (from a suicide).
  • Edward gets a call announcing the birth of his son (meaning he's missed that due to work).
  • Edward talks to his son on the phone and the boy mentions his mom, her new friend, and that man's new car (thus making Edward suspicious of her possibly cheating on him).
  • Edward finally arrives home after six years of being away, with his wife saying she now goes by her real name (compared to what he once called her) and that they should sleep in separate beds until they get to know each other again.
  • Margaret reports (some time after the fact) that her brother was killed in Burma in 1944.
  • Margaret admits that while Edward was gone for six years working, she was with a man once. Edward then admits that he made a similar "mistake."
  • After Margaret announces to another couple that Edward is in the CIA, he tries to blow that off, saying his wife has an active imagination. She's later mad at him and he back at her, stating that she never tell anyone what he does. She then complains that she lives with a ghost.
  • Margaret receives photos of Edward having an affair (we don't see the shots) and she confronts him at a public dinner, yelling that he disgusts and humiliates her.
  • Edward and Margaret get into a verbal fight over their son wanting to join the CIA and her wanting Edward to stop him. He then says he married her because of the boy (referring to her being pregnant in the past).
  • There's a reference to Margaret's father having passed away.
  • Margaret tells Edward that she's moving to Phoenix to live with her mother.
  • A Russian spy tells Edward he can protect Edward's son as long as Edward helps him when assistance is needed in the future. He then adds that Edward must determine whether his son or country is more important to him, with Edward eventually choosing the latter.
  • Edward's young adult son tells him that he was always afraid growing up because everything was a secret.
  • A young man learns that his fiancée has just been killed.
  • Edward (as an adult) finally reads his father's suicide note from long ago. When done, he burns the note.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The CIA and other government agencies involving in spying, those who work for them, and the effect of their work on their private lives.
  • The comment that people who really love each other don't have secrets.
  • Secret societies such as the Skull and Bones.
  • The comment that lying equals no trust, which means nothing is safe.
  • Edward asks Sam if he wants the then college student to spy on his poetry professor. Sam replies he wants him to be a good citizen.
  • There's some brief footage of Adolf Hitler.
  • Dr. Fredericks tells Edward he'll be lucky if he finds someone he can trust in their business, adding that he hasn't.
  • The U.S. and Russia racing to get German intelligence and technology following the end of WWII.
  • Sullivan believing the peacetime CIA should be the eyes and ears of the country, but not the heart and soul.
  • Philip rhetorically asks Edward what makes people like them do the sort of work they do for such little pay, and when they always have to look behind their backs.
  • A Russian informant claims that the power of Russia is now a myth and that the American government continues to perpetuate it so that they can keep the military in power.
  • When asked why it's not called "the" CIA, one agent replies, "Do you put 'the" in front of God?"
  • VIOLENCE
  • During the Bay of Pigs military operation, we see brief footage of artillery being fired and a plane shot down. We then see more archival footage of a body being pulled out of the water and other bodies in the sand, but there's no blood.
  • Edward comments about being 6-years-old and hearing a gunshot from his father's office and then going there (which we see) and finding his dead father lying on the floor with a small pool of blood next to him (from a suicide).
  • We see bombed out buildings in London following the Blitz of 1941 (the result of unseen violence).
  • We hear the sound of distant bombings in London during WWII in several scenes.
  • We see a distant view of men struggling with an agent who's to be killed. That agent is then taken off, we hear anguished screaming, and Edward runs up just in time to see men roll the agent's body into a body of water.
  • We see bombed out buildings in post-war Berlin.
  • A suspected female spy is shot twice and murdered, with a little blood on her and an adjacent wall.
  • A severed finger is discovered in a can of coffee (as a signal to others that a spy was found).
  • Soldiers with rifles raid a party and forcibly take several people away.
  • Ray punches a Russian informant in the face, knocking him over in his chair and slightly cutting his nose. He then repeatedly slaps this man's face, eventually bloodying it to the point that blood runs down his face to his chest. Later, the informant's face is all bloody and swollen. His clothes are then stripped off and we briefly and partially see his full frontal nudity as the torture continues, including putting a hood on him, subjecting him to ice water, and giving him LSD. The man then stands up fully nude (Ray's head in the foreground of the shot blocks our view of his crotch), runs toward the closed window and crashes through it. We don't see the impact below, but do see a long view of his nude body (bare butt) on the street with a pool of blood around him.
  • A female spy is grabbed and then thrown from a plane in flight. We see her falling through the air, but don't see the deadly impact below.



  • Reviewed December 5, 2006 / Posted December 22, 2006

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