The Debt

Historical thriller driven by stellar cast

John Madden, the Academy Award-nominated director of Shakespeare in Love, delves into the tricky landscape of the post-Holocaust world in The Debt, which explores the consequences of actions taken by a three-man team of Mossad agents in 1965, charged with extracting a notorious Nazi doctor lurking in East Germany under a false name and identity back to Israel for trial and inevitably swift justice.

The young members involved in this undertaking are Rachel Singer (played by Jessica Chastain initially and 30 years later by Helen Mirren), David Peretz (Sam Worthington and later Ciaran Hinds) and finally team leader Stephan Gold (Marton Csokas and Tom Wilkinson). Seeing them during the time of the mission, a perilous situation made even more dangerous by the inevitable romantic entanglements that arise, and then all those years later, when each has had to struggle to survive the repercussions of time and tide, generates all the drama needed to make The Debt a stirring — if at times obvious — thriller.

Very little needs to be done to let us know about the evil being pursued, so the film dives right into the elaborate plots, the character traits of the heroes, the key miscues that endanger the missions, the waiting games and the twists. The Debt wallows a bit too long in these details because we already know the points by heart and have already begun unraveling the twist here before it completely reveals itself. We know it and, like the characters, we want to make it right — we do, so we go along with the contemporary versions of the characters, walking the path with them, ready to pay the price and settle the score. Grade: B


Opens Aug. 31. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.
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