The Debt

16 Oct

It’s the1960’s and Rachel Singer (by Jessica Chastain) is a Mossad agent. She arrives in post-Wall Berlin to carry out a covert operation with fellow agents David (by Sam Worthington) and Stephan (by Marton Csokas). They plan kidnap Dr Dieter Vogel (by Jesper Christensen), the notorious Butcher of Birkenau, who is known for conducting cruel experiments on human subjects. He has been found in Berlin, practicing as an obstetrician under a false name, so they are to kidnap and transport him to Israel to face trial for his cruelties against Jews. Rachel is the most active in this plot and he is successfully captured. However, the plan doesn’t quite work out as expected and a delay in his transportation means he must be held captive at their hideout in Berlin for a while. During his extended imprisonment with them, he becomes agitated and violent – leading to brutal conflicts between him and his captors. Eventually, transport arrives and the party relocates back to Israel where the threesome are heralded as heroes for the capture of this brutal man. Rachel and her associates are viewed with esteem throughout Israel and the world. Several years later, their notoriety resurfaces when Rachel’s journalist daughter, Sarah (by Romi Aboulafia), decides to retell the story in her first novel. At the book launch, Sarah asks Rachel to read from the book, which causes memories of the time to come flooding back. We learn that Rachel and her fellow agents have a secret – and they will do anything to stop it getting out …

Although this movie has been described as a thriller, there is not quite enough in it for me. The interraction between the three young Mossad agents is laboured and although it is clear there are tensions between them due to developing relationships, their chemistry is not strong. To me, the “current day” portion of the story featuring the more mature threesome has much more depth and interest. It is good to see Helen Mirren in a different type of role than usual. She and Tom Wilkinson always put in strong performances and that is true here. The suspense in the story does not really develop fully for me – the kidnap and capture is laboured and almost clumsy. As a movie, I’d say it is okay – it is an adaptation of the 2007 Israeli film “Ha-Hov”. 

Made in 2010.  Directed by John Madden.

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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Movies


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