CIA: secretive, demanding, star of new film

CIA: secretive, demanding, star of new film

In a convoluted and mind-boggling plotline, “The Good Shepherd” raises some serious questions about the CIA’s past involvement in U.S. foreign policy. Within the two and a half hours of flashbacks documenting the life of CIA guru Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) through the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, an all-star cast comprised of Robert DeNiro, Angelina Jolie, John Turturro, Alec Baldwin and Timothy Hutton are all believable players in the dark reality of the secret and powerful CIA.

Based off of the real-life story of CIA guru James Angleton, “The Good Shepherd” begins in a 1961 Washington D.C. Wilson, complete with gray fedora, wool overcoat and horn rims, mulls over a confidential package sent to his residence. Flashing back to his college years at Yale, Wilson is shown as a pledge member to the secret and prestigious Skull & Bones society, and an upcoming potential candidate for the Office of Strategic Services, which later morphed into the CIA. He meets Clover (Jolie) and proceeds to marry her after she becomes pregnant. Choosing to pursue what he believed was a noble cause for the U.S. government, Wilson is accepted into the OSS and leaves his family to pursue overseas dilemmas.

As the flashbacks jump back and forth from Wilson’s entrance into the OSS to his metamorphosis as one of the best-known CIA agents of all time, Wilson remains as a slave to his agency that he gives everything for and receives nothing in return. Italian mobster Joseph Palmi lists what all the American ethnicities have to keep them going, including family, church, etc. “What do you people have?” Wilson replies. “The United States of America. The rest of you people are just passing through.”

Damon was impeccable as the cold-hearted and rather dull CIA agent dedicated to a seemingly worthless cause, and Jolie shone as the disregarded and abandoned trophy wife. In a short cameo appearance, DeNiro’s portrayal of the wheelchair-bound CIA crony was equally enjoyable.

Overall, “The Good Shepherd” was just as good as any spy movie can get. While it definitely requires your full attention and just about your entire evening, it is worth every minute of it.