Friday, September 2, 2011

The Debt

I actually saw this film a year ago at the Toronto Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall, and reviewed it briefly in my very first blog post.  But now that it's finally opening in theaters I figured I'd go back for seconds.  And I must say I appreciated it even more the second time around.  Perhaps it's because I knew what to expect and could focus on the construction of the storytelling.  Or perhaps it was just a more relaxed setting.  Whatever it was, it deserves better than the B that I gave it a year ago.

This is the tale of a trio of Israeli Mossad agents in 1966 on a mission to capture and bring to Israel a nazi war criminal to stand trial for his crimes.  The film bounces back and forth between the 1990's and 1960's with an equally impressive cast playing the Mossad agents both young and old.  We all know and love Helen Mirren, but it's really Jessica Chastain who plays her younger counterpart who shines the brightest in this film, as well as in 'The Help' and 'Tree of Life'.  This is really her year in film.  Of course, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds are no slouches.  Quite the contrary, they're always worth watching.  And even though I'm not a Sam Worthington fan in the least (based on his unmemorable performances in 'Avatar' and 'Clash of the Titans') this is his best work I've seen.

This film falls in a genre I'll call 'Jews Fighting Back Thrillers', and in that genre, I appoint 'Munich' and 'Defiance' as the gold standard.  This one isn't quite at that level.  And the end didn't work for me as well as I would have liked.  But for the most part, it's a gripping, taut thriller and well worth your time.

Grade: B+


  1. Agree about the ending, solid B for me. FYI - the original ( Israel 2007 ) is showing On Demand right now.