The Debt Review

“No Matter What, The Truth Stays In This Room.”

September 19th, 2011

The Debt is a 2011 drama-thriller film.

Directed by: John Madden.

Starring: Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Ciáran Hinds, Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson, Marton Csokas and Jesper Christensen.

Three Mossad spy operatives are sent into Germany to find a former member of the Nazi party and bring him to justice.


I'll break away from my normal format to review this near perfect movie. From start to finish, it was well worth the $7.25. Don't you just love how you go into an auditorium, snacks in hand, gearing up for a movie you have no knowledge of, and it turns out to be an incredible surprise? Well color me surprised. As the film sells the name of a well known actress, Helen Mirren, it also allows a newcomer to not only shine, but steal the center stage as her younger counterpart: Jessica Chastain. It also show's another newcomer, at least for me, Sam Worthington, who seems to have been working on his acting as of late.

What I like about well crafted works of art is when they don't hold back for a second and grab your full attention early by killing off a main character. Why would you do that? Why kill a character whom we haven't yet come to know? Ah, but that's the beauty of chronological order. Something must have led to such a suicide, and we are delighted by exploring the events to demise in a lovely fashion. We cut to our lead actress in her elder age, Rachel Singer (Helen Mirren) being praised for being interviewed by her daughter about her first field mission in search of a monster. Curious as to why something that occurred 30 years ago in '66 would keep her emotional expression without tranquility. And the third piece of the puzzle, with David (Ciáran Hinds) already under the tire, Stefan (Tom Wilkinson) reenters her life, with a shocking truth. We know not what it is as a whole, but only snippets. Only until we travel back 30 years, does the film keep you hostage to a pipe satisfying your entertainment medium.

As the past chronicles its way into the center of the plot, we begin with Rachel's (Jessica Chastain) first mission on the field, in a secret location with their prisoner sound asleep; only to later discover his plans to escape physically injuring Chastain's character like the Nazi that he is. That beat down was well executed; it's always fascinating how the editing department and the choreographers along with the camera angles make a really physical scene seem so real; level of deep reality that allows you to be emotionally involved with the character's state of mind. Will she make it in time to stop his escape; will she get on her feet quickly enough to chase after him? An interesting way to begin the development of the extraction team in a chronicle before we see the events that lead up to this astonishing escape.

The most appealing moments in the entire construct of this product boils down to the past. All the character development, secrets, reveals, tensions, and all the pieces that make a good script work take place. The pro critics rave about Helen Mirren and all, but they quickly overshadow the real star of the movie, Jessica Chastain. That's right, the same bubbly blonde woman from The Help, and the red head from The Tree of Life, and the upcoming flicks Coriolanus, Texas Killings and The Wettest Country in the World. Yes, that Jessica Chastain; the unknown and highly talented actress to have graced or humble stage and deliver some memorable performance, at least for me. Followed by her co-stars Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas, where the trio works with perfect chemistry and a cool blend as if in front of the camera they have been friends for a long time. Same Worthington, though many were skeptic since his average performance on Avatar, seemed to have paid attention in class; his skills as an actor took a major step in improvement as with dominating his Israelite accent. Marton Csokas, well you remember him right? Celeborn, Yorgi, Charles Kingsley, Trevor Goodchild, etc. in enters the love triangle between the two: Where one simply requires a good lay and the others with transgression of allowing anyone new to enter his life. Although the problematic of the situation rest on the fact that during Chastain's mission, she gets injected by the Nazi with hormones to speed up her reproductive system and or sexual activity, which I guess in a scientific way, her pheromones attract the two to taint the mission?

Ah the Nazi, yes, the cup of life for this grandiose art. Played by the highly talented Jesper Christensen (Mr. White from Casino Royale and Quantum) who seems to have a great knack for playing the villain. Hmm, would be fun to see him go toe to toe with Hugo Weaving; wouldn't that be a showdown? Working as a Gynecologist, his new title from his former position as The Surgeon of Burkenau, for experimenting on Jews and ironically enough, more focused on experimenting with children. Takes life and then finds himself giving life with a grin. I guess for any woman especially an assassin, no matter how tough she may appear to be, for her target to be exploring her inner most sanctuary is quite uncomfortable. But alas, she gets her man, in binding situation mind you; risky yet elegant. As our final encounter with the Nazi and the trio, while they hold him for an extraction that goes astray, plays to the villain's advantage. Psychology is the best weapon for a captive man, and an individual who proclaims himself expert through his vile tongue. Here is where the movie looses the point to make it the perfect film in my opinion: He explains about his work in the war, and uses it to turn his enemy against each other, but why don't we get a flashback to his profession? Call me a torture savvy, but had the viewer witnessed such gripping exposure of the Jews, one would have left the theater jaw dropped. It would have gotten a perfect score.

We finally lead to the present, Helen Mirren taking the stage with her Oscar winning attitude that helps bring her character's story full circle. Guilt takes over, causing her lies to evolve for truth. Her elder opposites, Ciáran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson play their parts to the letter with no waste of their natural verbalism. Agree or disagree, though Tom Wilkinson's younger counterpart might have been miscast to me, you can get a good picture of what the future of the younger cast holds in their careers. For all we know, Jessica Chastain might become the next Helen Mirren, and the same for our male leads; like looking in a mirror for the next thirty years.

The Debt is 2011's surprise and may or may not be recognized at the Academy Awards. It truly deserves a nomination for Jessica Chastain as the leading actress, although might get downgraded to supporting Actress? I don't know, she took most of the screen time, so you decide. I've already made my choice. If you haven't seen it, you must. You won't be disappointed.

Written by: Bawnian©-Dexeus.


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