I Saw A Film Today… The Debt

As the summer winds down to a close, we come to an odd season in the life of films. It’s that odd time in between summer blockbusters and Oscar season. It is a time when an odd assortment of films come out ranging from multiple ends of the spectrum. A time when The Lion King can be rereleased in 3-D and something as mind-numbingly stupid as Bucky Larson can come out in the same month. Which brings us to The Debt, a film that probably could not compete with summer hits but is not exactly Oscar bait either.

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In 1966, three Mossad agents are tasked with bringing a Nazi doctor to justice for the human experiments he conducted at a Jewish concentration camp during World War Two. The group consists of Rachel (here portrayed by Jessica Chastain), David (Sam Worthington), and Stefan (Marton Csokas). While successful in capturing the doctor, he eventually gets the slip on the group and tries escaping before being shot by Rachel.

Or at least this is what the three have told people over the past 30 years (the year now being 1997). In all actuality the doctor did escape. But since the only people who knew this were these four people, they decided the best course of action is to fabricate the actual details.

But now that secret may begin to unravel as a man living in a South American hospital claims to be the villainous doctor. Now it is up to Rachel (now portrayed by Helen Mirren) to finish the job that she started all those years ago.

Although this is not the most action-packed thriller, The Debt is more engaging than most. The story is well crafted and consuming, which is surprising for a film that switches back and forth between two different time periods. This type of format rarely works but it does here somewhat.

Unfortunately, there are stumbles along the way. For one, the film just takes too long to wrap itself up. The last half hour just seemed to drag on and more than once I checked my watch. I have no problem with films moving slowly but it has to be carried out correctly. Not only that but the segments that take place in 60’s were just smoother and more interesting than those set in the 90’s.

As for performances, the person who surprised me the most was Sam Worthington. I have in the past questioned his acting skills since in most of his roles his dialogue is nothing more than phrases. Here, he still plays a dark and brooding chap but he does it so well and makes it his own. It is nice to see him branch out and hope he does so more in the future.

Jessica Chastain and Marton Csokas are also very good in this film. The chemistry between the three young actors is engaging. As for the chemistry between Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, and Ciarán Hinds is less interesting. They all do well but it just doesn’t seem like much effort is put into their performances.

The Debt is not quite the deep thriller that it advertised itself. It is messy at times, especially nearing the end. But it is still more engaging than most of the so-called thrillers that came out this year.

Verdict: RENT IT!

Comments? Opinions? Leave them below.

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2 Responses to “I Saw A Film Today… The Debt”

  1. I didn’t like it as much you did and I thought Sam Worthington struggled to play what was probably a well written character on the page…but it keep me pretty glued to the screen and had me interested for the time being. Good Review Kev!

  2. I think I enjoyed it a little more than you did, but agree that the 1960’s part plays a little smoother. But I did enjoy the more philosophical parts in Mirren’s timeline. For me, it seemed to ask questions about how we make and understand history that I found interesting. Great Review!

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