With a cast that includes Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Jessica Chastain and Ciaran Hinds, and a screenplay by Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman, Layer Cake) I expected a lot more from THE DEBT.
Flashing back and forth between 1997 and 1965, we meet three legendary Mossad agents that are being newly heralded because of a published book about their 1965 mission.
On the trail of Nazi war criminal Vogel (Jesper Christensen from “Casino Royale”) in East Berlin, they are to capture him and speed him across the Berlin wall by train into captivity. But nothing goes as planned and they are immersed in a violent, long psychological standoff with the twisted Nazi leader.
In the modern-day story, Rachel is played by Helen Mirren, in the flashbacks to the mission, Chastain. Rachel and Stephan Gold (Wilkinson now, Marton Csokas then) is committed to carrying on their legend, while Rachel and David (Hinds now, Sam Worthington in flashbacks) struggle with a secret so big that it threatens to shatter historical events.
For an espionage thriller, it’s a bit low on thrills and they grow more predictable as the story meanders forward.
As game as Chastain is for a good fist fight, I enjoyed the story set in 1997 far more, with Mirren and Wilkinson dominating the screen. Mirren almost saves the whole affair with the decisions she makes near the finale.
Wasting its powerful cast, THE DEBT ends up owing us a film more worthy of its subject matter, barely managing a C.