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The Debt

Helen Mirren in The Debt
Saturday September 3rd, 2011

The Debt is a remake of a 2007 Israeli film about 3 Mossad agents given a mission to capture a notorious ex-Nazi doctor who experimented on Jewish prisoners in concentration camps and bringing him to Israel to stand trial.

The film goes back and forth between the time of the abduction in the 1960s and 30 years later when the agents have achieved celebrity status for their earlier efforts. The younger versions of the trio are played by Marton Csokas (Stephan), Jessica Chastain (Rachel) and Sam Worthington (David). Chastain who appeared earlier this year in Terence Malick's magnificent Tree Of Life gives another strong performance here as a beautiful agent having to prove herself on her first field assignment. Csokas and Worthington (Jake Sully from Avatar) are good as the two male members of the team who become conflicted over their mutual interest in Chastain.

Tom Wilkinson is the older Stephan. Unlike the other two Stephan has remained in the Mossad organization where he services officialdom and his own self-interest. Ciaran Hinds is the older David, a tortured soul and the conscience of the group. Helen Mirren is excellent as the older Rachel who inhabits a middle ground between Stephan and David. She regrets some of the things she's done for career and country but not enough to sacrifice her reputation.

The Debt is an entertaining espionage thriller with worthwhile performances especially by Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain. Veteran actor Jesper Christensen is excellent as the ex-Nazi monster who continues to practice medicine while hiding in East Berlin.

What keeps The Debt from being a first rate thriller is the script. I felt there was a significant schism in the storyline that could confuse the audience and some of the events do seem contrived. These things weaken the overall impact of the piece. But overall the pluses outweigh the minuses and most people will enjoy this film.