The Good Shepherd

Director: Robert De Niro
Year Released: 2006
Rating: 2.0

A fictionalized peek into the early days of the C.I.A. and the contributions of Matt Damon's character to the development of the clandestine operation, from his years at Yale, to getting peed on for that Skull & Bones society (just another clique, if you think about it) to dealing with those pesky (and pretty clever) Russians. The dealings with Damon's unsuccessful marriage to Angelina Jolie - and overstated importance of "family" (be it "America" in general or, specifically, the son who wets himself) - play out heavily, and though the movie has a couple genuinely insightful moments (the Joe Pesci scene is jarring), is mostly plagued by slightly sluggish pacing and an unwieldy running time. Damon's perfectly cast as the unassuming operative - the man's getting more and more impressive as the years go on - but not many others stand out; the direction, by dabbler De Niro (who doesn't get behind the camera often), is quite confident.