Movie Review: “The Debt”

Published by Clay Cane on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 12:00 am.

(Photo: Focus Features)

 

Summary: Three undercover agents were ordered to kill a Nazi war criminal back in 1966. They return home as heroes but there is a secret they’ve kept for decades. Once a book is written about their glorified journey, the truth is about to come out, which would become an international scandal impacting Rachel Singer (Helen Mirren) the most. 

Review: From the trailers of The Debt, you might think this is a Helen Mirren movie. Nope, this is a Jessica Chastain movie as a younger version of Mirren’s character. Therefore, when an hour goes by with no Mirren you can’t help but ask, “Where is Helen?” The Debt needed Helen’s name to sell.  Undoubtedly, the flick is a solid film but if you were expecting some butt-kicking from Helen in the way of an over-60 Salt or Colombiana, which would’ve been a great idea,  this isn’t it. 

Directed by John Madden, —The Debt is a formulaic undercover-agent-story-gone-wrong. The twist is a secret that was covered up for over 30 years, which eventually haunts the key people involved. Eventually — meaning, the last twenty minutes — Mirren’s character must pay the price for this secret. Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington (Avatar) are solid as the younger version of the A-listers’ characters. While cut from the same cloth as many other espionage thrillers, there was a surprising ending, which was not easy to see coming. 

There is nothing particularly good or bad about The Debt: good action, strong story and even better actors. Still, the film falls flat but you do not realize it until it is over. The Debt is cold and unemotional. However, there is enough tension to stay engaged for the full running time. That said, I’d skip through it if I ever caught it channel surfing, but The Debt is worth a watch for the first time.

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