Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: "The Debt" (2011)

A tidy, affecting work, John Madden's "The Debt", which begins in 1966, ends in 1997 and fills in pretty much everywhere in-between, is a thriller-within-a-thriller of sorts, telling the story of three Israeli Mossad agents, their mission to capture an infamous Nazi war criminal and its lasting effect on them throughout the years.
We can tell by the piercing stares and forged enthusiasm surrounding a reunion (which frames the modern half of this story) that what the public perceives as a heroic, successful mission and what those who carried it out believe are very much in opposition. What happened during the mission? Why does Helen Mirren look so queasy?
So many questions offer many potential pratfalls, yet to its credit, "The Debt" doesn't ever really feel deceitful, it's tenderly composed and riveting enough from moment-to-moment so as to divert any thoughts of a sloggy back-and-forth narrative.  
Performances (no matter the timeline) are never less than adequate, although the nearly instantly popular Jessica Chastain and her three-decades-later relay partner Helen Mirren ultimately take the cake, overcoming the film's propensity for wildly dissimilar actors playing the same character.
Director Joe Madden, attempting to break out of movie jail, admirably keeps things moving and, more importantly, uncluttered. And although the film's conclusion is more ludicrous than canny, the final shot feels resolute, impactful. [B-]

1 comment:

  1. Yea I thought that Sam Worthington and Cirian Hands playing the same character was very weird (as was Wilkinson and the other guy playing the same character).

    Great review and I agree that this is a solid thriller but nothing great.