A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Spies are devious, curel, and determined, extolling the virtues of patriotism but seemingly achieving their ends at any cost; Edward is distant from his family; his wife resents him and drinks too much, his son acts out his resentment in other ways.
Violence & Scariness
Young boy hears the shot as his father commits suicide in another room, then sees the body with blood on floor; violent acts include murders and assassinations by gunshot, knifing, strangling, poisoning; images of post-Blitz London (wreckage); several mlitary "operations" show bombs and gunfire; severed finger sent to a character as a threat; naked interrogation subject is tortured, then jumps out a window and appears broken-bodied and bloody on sidewalk below; woman is thrown from a plane (you see her body descending from above).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A grainy, shadowy sex scene forms a central mystery (it's a surveillance tape, shown repeatedly); Skull and Bones intiates engage in naked mud wrestling (mud covers explicit elements); Edward thinks his teacher at Yale is coming on to him, but he may be trying to draw him into his Nazi group; several kissing scenes; sex scene between Margaret and Edward shows movement, but they remain clothed (they're outside); sex between Edward and Laura results in threats and surveilllance photos (nothing explicit); after sex between Edward and his German assistant (offscreen), her breast is seen briefly; reference to Russians being "short between the legs," and an interrogation subject is stripped (brief full frontal nudity).
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About four uses of "f--k," one use each of "ass," "hell," and "son of a bitch." Sexual slang ("pr--k," "t-ts").
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink (wine, champagne, vodka) and smoke lots of cigarettes, partly as an indication of the era and partly to show their efforts at self-medication. Margaret is drunk and angry in several scenes. CIA interrogators inject a subject with LSD to solicit information.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although older teens may be interested in this adult-targeted thriller because of stars Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, it's slow going (and long) and has mature political and moral themes. Violence is frequent (weapons include guns, knives, and bombs and tanks during WWII in London), with two suicide scenes (one via gunshot, the other via jumping out a window) and a graphic torture scene in which CIA agents abuse a Russian spy. Edward and his fellow pledges are urinated on during a naked mud-wrestling scene. Edward has sex with three different women (not explicit, but you see bodies moving), and a surveillance film showing two people having sex appears repeatedly. Characters smoke cigarettes frequently and drink, sometimes to excess. Some language (four uses of "f--k"). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This complex thriller considers the blindness and other costs that come with being too committed to a job, even one that involves national security. The problem that Edward's chosen profession poses for him is both prosaic and sensational. At one level, the cost of his patriotism is reduced to a common device -- the difficulties between father and son. The film winds tighter and tighter around this relationship. "I never felt safe," Edward Jr. says. "I was always afraid because everything was a secret."
While The Good Shepherd does concede that secret agencies need to keep secrets, it also rejects the slippery, paranoid morality that follows from such a premise.
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Our Editors Recommend
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