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Archive for the ‘Debt; The’ Category

The Debt – review

The Debt


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The Debt is the new film from director John Madden who directed 2009’s highly under-ratedKillshot and also Shakespeare in Love for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for.  It is also a re-make of the 2007 Israeli film of the same name. 

The Debt bounces back and forth between two time periods, the mid 1960’s and the late 1990’s, and centers around a Israeli-Mossad team who is sent on a mission to capture a surgeon, who is wanted for killing Jews in concentration camps during WWII.  He has been hidden for some time and the team needs to make sure that he is who they believe he is and bring him to justice.

Helen Mirren plays Rachel Singer in 1997, while Jessica Chastain plays Rachel in the 60’s.  The remaining team is filled out by Sam Worthington and Ciaran Hinds playing young David and old David, and Martin Csokas and Tom Wilkinson playing young Stefan and old Stefan.  The three team members are thrust together and forced to play house throughout their mission in the 60’s.  The backstory for Rachel and David is that they are young married couple, and Stefan is a mutual friend that they run around town with.  To those who see them about nothing seems out of the ordinary.  It’s a perfect cover, however when you are thrust into a situation like that, sometimes people begin to feel something for those close around them and it can create a sticky situation.  In 1997 we see that the three members of this team are highly lauded for completing this mission, however they don’t seem to be very friendly with one another and some of them are not on speaking terms with each other, because their is a secret involved.

This cutting back and forth between the two time periods is one of the reasons why I think the film ultimately fails from being one of the better films of the year.  The film gets confused and the viewer does also at some points.  We look in to extended periods of time during the 60’s when the team is gathering information, capturing the surgeon, and attempting to complete their mission.  This was the most interesting and thought provoking section of the film.  The team is stuck with this monster of a man, and none of them are allowed to talk to them, but he slowly begins to drive each of them crazy in their own way and they become pitted against each other.  This idea of isolation, loneliness and fear was the most interesting concept that the film dealt with, and unfortunately when we are thrust back in to the world of the 1990’s we lose a lot of that, and are given a flimsy story about where all the players involved are now.

If the film would have stayed in the world of the 60’s I think The Debt would be one of the years best films, but it tries so hard to become an action film at the end, which in all honesty makes the film look a little bit ridiculous.  The film also seems to really drag on.  Even though it clocks in at just under two hours I felt like I had been in the theater for closer to three.  Mirren is fantastic as always, and I hate to say it, but the film could have done without her.  There are just too many forgettable scenes, and some scenes thrust in the film that don’t make sense, and are placed there just to make the film seem more epic in nature.

The Debt has a truly great premise to it, and some near genius moments, but too much filler ultimately brings the film down.

Grade: C+