By Jarred Braxton
“I knew we would be made to suffer. I knew we’d have to pay.”
Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren (“The Queen”) stars in Academy Award-nominated director John Madden’s (“Shakespeare in Love”) simple and realistic spy thriller about a trio of retired Mossad officers who have to pay “The Debt.”
The film is a flashback narrative that takes audiences back toBerlinin 1966, as the three young Mossad officers Rachel, played by Jessica Chastain (“The Tree of Life”), David, played by Sam Worthington (“Avatar”) and Stefan, played by MartonCsokas (“Aeon Flux”) are stationed to carry out their objective.
“We take him back alive. We’ll show the world what he did.”
Their mission is to capture Dieter Vogel, played by Jasper Christensen (“Casino Royale”), alias The Surgeon of Birkenau, a Nazi war criminal who conducted unspeakable crimes against Jews in World War II, and successfully bring him back toIsraelto stand trial for the actions he has committed.
“You’re trembling. I think you are the one who is afraid, David. Afraid of the monster? Boo!”
Thirty years later, Rachel, played by Mirren, Stefan, played by Academy Award-nominee Tom Wilkinson (“Michael Clayton”), and David, played by Ciaran Hinds (“There Will Be Blood”), are known throughout their country for their successful accomplishment of the mission.
Rachel and Stefan’s daughter has even written a book about her parents’ accomplishments regarding the mission, namely that Rachel killed Vogel while he was trying to escape capture.
Israeland Mossad consider the three national heroes for their actions, but a new development comes to light in the form of a man who claims that he is Dieter Vogel, which causes the tree of retired officers to reflect on a dark and dangerous secret they swore to never tell the world about.
“Only four people really know what happened here tonight! No matter what, the truth stays in this room between us!”
This is not your run-of-the-mill James Bond action spy flick. “The Debt” is a quietly intense thriller that won’t have audiences jumping out of their seats but will leave them thoroughly satisfied.
Madden wanted this film’s impression to be how the relationship between the three operatives affected how they executed the mission and allow the audience to realize the gravity of the consequences that lie in store for Rachel, David and Stefan if their secret were to come out.
He was successful in his initial approach but was very vague in regard to how the three’s relationship with Vogel clouded their judgment and led to the resulted outcome of the mission.
What Madden did well regarding the film was how the three’s time together in their apartment base in Berlin shaped how their lives after the mission was over and how their lives would be affected if the world found out that the man who claimed himself as Vogel was alive after 30 years.
Also, the film does an amazing job at how well the characters were transformed in the film. The youthful Chastain, Csokas, andWorthingtonage into the burdened, scarred and weary Mirren, Wilkinson and Hinds, who are 30 years apart from each other.
The acting was quite solid yet subtle in the film. Mirren and Wilkinson were the stars of the show during the modern day act of the story while the younger three (Chastain, Csokas, andWorthington) were solid.
The entire first act of the film allowed enough momentum for Mirren to become the driving force behind the second act.
“The Debt” is a movie where everything was done well. The writing, the pacing, the editing, the acting and the directing were very strong, but the only flaw in the design of the film is that it doesn’t exactly take off with the audience’s attention, rather than keep them fixated and hypnotized by the developing action.
It is a nice movie with a lot of insight behind the minds of covert agents with something to hide and live with. Not exactly the year’s best motion picture, but a good movie for an adult audience to kill time with and enjoy.