The Debt is a thoroughly competent movie that is reasonably effective at being what it sets out to be: a solid little thriller. It’s also pretty hard to get excited about. Apart from being somewhat more brutal in its violence than is common in respectable-minded films, it’s simply another well-crafted movie that takes few chances and affords even fewer surprises. And if any genre needs surprises, the thriller is that genre. The movie is being presented as a Helen Mirren film, but it should be understood that The Debt is set in two distinct times: 1997 and 1966. The upshot of this is that Mirren plays Rachel Singer in 1997, while Jessica Chastain plays the character in 1966. Similarly, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds play Stephan Gold and David Peretz in 1997, but Martin Csokas and Sam Worthington play their earlier incarnations. The story concerns this trio of Mossad agents, long honored as heroes, especially Rachel, who shot fleeing Nazi war criminal Doktor Bernhardt in 1966. By 1997, Rachel has married and divorced Stephan, and has a daughter, Sarah (Romi Aboulafia), who has written a book about her mother, father, and David that details the events in East Berlin in 1966. The bulk of the movie is about how reality differs from this official version. The film never rises up past the level of “perfectly fine” and never pushed me into the sense that I was watching a great, or even near great, movie. Should you go? That probably depends on how you feel about the cast and the thriller genre. You could certainly find much worse ways to spend your time at the movies, but I can’t get that enthused about it.
Director: John Madden
Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan
Producer: Matthew Vaughn, Kris Thykier, Eitan Evan and Eduardo Rossoff
Cast: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas, Ciarán Hinds, Tom Wilkinson, Jesper Christensen, Romi Aboulafia, Adar Beck and Nitzan Sharron