Helen Mirren has been a favorite of mine for a while now, and I know many filmgoers will head to the movies to see her in her newest film The Debt, also starring Tom Wilkinson and Sam Worthington.
The Debt is the story of three Mossad agents out to capture and bring to justice the Nazi known as The Surgeon of Birkenau. David (Sam Worthington), Rachel (Jessica Chastain) and Stephan (Martin Csokas) are well equipped to capture the Nazi and a plan to bring him to justice seems full prove. But they underestimate the Nazi (Jesper Christensen) and the plan by the three young Mossad agents spins out of control.
Three decades later Rachel (Helen Mirren), Stephen (Tom Wilkinson) and David (Ciarán Hinds) find that their mistakes from 30 years ago still follow them, as their country of Israel has declared them heroes and Rachel and Stephen’s daughter has just penned a book about her famous parents.
But as all mistakes do, they catch up with the trio. One ends up dead, one is unable to serve and one must pay the debt and finally find The Surgeon of Birkenau.
The Debt is a film based on an Israeli film that was quite successful in its home country and seemed to make a perfect story to be retold. Unfortunately, The Debt will leave you quite cold and unsatisfied.
Although the subject matter is interesting and all the performers are excellent in their work, The Debt is unable to establish any real connection with the film’s protagonists. There are hints about their childhood during the war, and the devastating loss each one suffered, but it’s just not enough to have any real sympathy or understanding of their ambitions. The only real surprise of the entire film is the performance of Jesper Chirstenseen as The Surgeon of Birkenau. He plays the villain with tour de force.
But one great performance does not make this film worth seeing; a viewing on cable will be the wisest choice.
The Debt is Rated R some violence and language and has a running time of 1 hr and 44 min.
Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cell phones & no texting please, don’t talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don’t forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
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-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work on SilentHollywood.com