Proof Review: The Debt (2011)

Release Date
August 31, 2011
Director
John Madden
Screenplay
Matthew Vaughn
Jane Goldman
Peter Straughan
Based On Film By
Assaf Bernstein
Ido Rosenblum
Distributed By
Focus Features
Miramax
Budget
$20 million
Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rated R for some violence and language
113 minutes

The Debt

From the trailers, what came off as an action-packed thriller was anything but. Instead of fighting a list of Nazi war criminals one by one in a 1966 blaze of glory, The Debt mainly focuses on catching one criminal in particular and the consequences that follow. The story spans a few decades and thus reveals the need for the talented double-tiered cast.

As always, Helen Mirren is stone-cold in her role as the older version of Rachel Singer. The casting agents had to have faced a dilemma, however, when turning to cast the younger Rachel Singer, as to find an actress that could fill the shoes of Mirren. I could not have been happier with their pick. Jessica Chastain is an easy pick for favorite breakthrough actress of the year as far as I’m concerned, wowing in The Tree of Life and The Help, as well as starring in yet another film being considered for Academy Awards this year, Take Shelter, next to Michael Shannon. Chastain truly embodies a younger Helen Mirren, with flair and finesse, bringing a fresh dynamic to the screen that has been void in most performances so far this year.

I am also impressed by Sam Worthington, who puts his muscles away for the role of David Peretz, finally showing an emotional side behind his hopped-up exterior. Worthington is not fighting terminators or avatars in The Debt. Instead, he is the awkward third wheel with an affinity for Rachel but no self esteem to back it up, which makes the moments where he snaps the perfect turning points in the film.

Tom Wilkinson, who hardly shows up in the film is a nice addition as is Marton Csokas, who plays the third agent, Stefan Gold, the leader of the group of three.

Though The Debt is not the action film it was marketed to be, the rich, dramatic qualities of the film were far more impressive. The film could have easily been wrecked with explosions and car chases, but instead I was allowed to become invested in the characters, their relationships with one another, and ultimately, their sense of duty when finding and finishing the evil Nazi doctor.

 

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