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The Debt

Thriller . Drama

Rachel Singer is a former Mossad agent who tried to capture a notorious Nazi war criminal – the Surgeon of Birkenau – in a secret Israeli mission that ended with his death on the streets of East Berlin. Now, 30 years later, a man claiming to be the doctor has surfaced, and Rachel must return to Eastern Europe to uncover the truth. Overwhelmed by haunting memories of her younger self and her two fellow agents, the still-celebrated heroine must relive the trauma of those events and confront the debt she has incurred.

Actors: Jessica Chastain , Sam Worthington , Helen Mirren , Romi Aboulafia , Adar Beck , Jesper Christensen , Marton Csokas , Ciarán Hinds , Tom Wilkinson
Directors: John Madden
Release: 2011-08-31
More Info:
  • Betsy Sharkey

    Bristling with dangers both corporeal and cerebral, The Debt is a superbly crafted espionage thriller packed with Israeli-Nazi score settling.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Steve Persall

    Christensen plays him with Lecter-like intensity; the unsettling calmness of someone capable of anything.

    Tampa Bay Times Full Review
  • Owen Gleiberman

    The Debt is basically an entertaining riff on "Munich." It's about a (fictional) operation of top secret Israeli revenge, carried out by three highly trained agents whose plan goes off the rails in ways that are more fascinating than the mission itself.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Michael Atkinson

    Predictably, the holes in the narrative set us up for a twist or three, but, in balance, it's a pleasure to be back in the wet alleys and spy-patrolled streets of the GDR, however vague they seem without '60s black-and-white cinematography.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    This is real edge-of-your-seat stuff, in a throwback way - no booming special effects, just old-school timing and execution.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    It is an exciting movie, full of crises and dramatic turns despite an aura of sadness that seems to pervade it.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Although they might have wished for something less conventional, it's the thrills that make this movie.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    Madden has the wisdom to give most of the heavy emotional lifting to Mirren, who continues to shine at the age of 66.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • John DeFore

    A more daring script might have found ways to tell the stories in parallel, doling out just enough information to keep viewers involved. But, as it is, The Debt grasps the viewer pretty firmly, delivering thrills without trivializing the moral quandaries that set it in motion.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    With its blend of taut action and profound revelations, The Debt is definitely worth an audience's investment.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Shawn Levy

    A story like this requires a villain worthy of decades of built up horror and rage, and Christensen provides a thoroughly credible stimulus for the nail-biting events of the film.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    What the three pairs of actors lack in semblance (or resemblance), they make up for to a great extent in their performances.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Calvin Wilson

    The Debt eventually settles into a predictable groove that slightly undercuts its impact. Still, it's a film of ambition and substance.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Nathan Rabin

    Madden's dark, moody, complex exploration of guilt and identity taps into a rich vein of moral ambiguity, but the filmmakers should know that in the face of unspeakable Nazi evil, the romantic problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    The acting is superb across-the-board, with the three younger performers deserving accolades.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    The film's a potboiler but a gripping one, and it leaves you chewing on both its nuances and implausibilities.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    "The Debt," a very good 2007 Israeli thriller with Cold War and Holocaust connections, earns a nerve-wracking and entertaining Hollywood remake.

    Orlando Sentinel Full Review
  • Richard Corliss

    The Debt is a little too gray and stolid - by which we may simply mean too true to its complex milieu - to qualify as scintillating entertainment. But at the end of a summer in which anything like reality was banned from movie houses, this gnarly political thriller has a tonic effect

    Time Full Review
  • Jordan Mintzer

    The remake ups the adrenaline factor, and features strong performances across the board, yet feels bogged down by a weighty love triangle and a subject that merits more than the old-school good vs. evil approach.

    Variety Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    As The Debt grows more complex and suspenseful, it also becomes more literal, losing some of its dramatic intensity.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Marjorie Baumgarten

    Perhaps the discrete delegation of the thrills to the 1966 story and the moral quandaries to the 1997 story is what prevents The Debt from congealing as well as it might have. Life is rarely that neat.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Rick Groen

    Political thrillers with flawed heroes demand a different potion, one that mixes the grit of reality with the seeds of excitement until they reach a critical mass and explode. In that sense, for all its strengths and good intentions, The Debt owes a debt to the wrong genre – Birkenau wasn't fantasy; too often, this movie is.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Mike Scott

    There are some nice surprises in store, as well, but the longer Madden's story goes on, the more manufactured things tend to feel.

    New Orleans Times-Picayune Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Chastain (a nifty match-up with Mirren) is a live wire, and her scenes with Csokas and Worthington have a spark the later scenes lack. No matter. The Debt holds you in its grip.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    The architecture of The Debt has an unfortunate flaw. The younger versions of the characters have scenes that are intrinsically more exciting, but the actors playing the older versions are more interesting. Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds bring along the weight of their many earlier roles. To be sure, the older actors get some excitement of their own, but by then, the plot has lost its way.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Nick Schager

    Its performances are resourceful and affecting, with Chastain and Worthington in the past sequences, and Mirren and Wilkinson in the later chapters, exuding a complicated mess of responsibility, guilt, sacrifice, revenge, and regret.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Ella Taylor

    The movie drowns the deeper questions it raises in a sadistic procedural, an endless circular motion of fight scenes whose only justification is themselves.

    NPR Full Review
  • Staff (Not credited)

    A smart, tense, well-acted thriller undercut by a disappointing finale and an occasional lack of focus. But at least this offers something for those looking for a film with more on its mind than simple set-pieces.

    Empire Full Review
  • Kirk Honeycutt

    As a thriller, The Debt performs many if not all the right moves. Where the John Madden-directed film gets into trouble is in wanting to deal with the Holocaust without being entirely a period film.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Elizabeth Weitzman

    Despite some early whispers of awards potential, The Debt is nothing more than a gritty thriller with a highbrow pedigree.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Richard Mowe

    Just when many may have thought that Cold War thrillers had gone out of fashion, along comes one to reinvigorate the genre.

    Boxoffice Magazine Full Review
  • Alison Willmore

    The Debt shortchanges itself severely with the weight it gives the portion of its story set further in the past.

    Movieline Full Review
  • Anthony Lane

    As with Spielberg's "Munich," there is an awkward, irresoluble tension between the movie's urge to thrill and the weighty pull of the historical obligations that it seeks to assume. How much, to be blunt, should we be enjoying ourselves? What do we owe to The Debt? Whatever the sum, it is more than the film itself, gloomy with unease, seems able to repay.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • John Anderson

    Any self-respecting period piece, historical drama or even caper movie - and The Debt is all three - balances issues of global significance with interpersonal drama. The problem here is that the personal eclipses the global. The stakes are too low.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    Director Madden vacillates between treating the issues and historical context of The Debt seriously, and as the story demands, as pure, heavy-handed pulp. The cast does what it can in the service of this assignment. But some jobs simply resist satisfying completion.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • J.R. Jones

    A strong cast fails to rescue this ponderous Oscar bait.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Keith Uhlich

    Despite the chronological juggling, the film's stylistic debts (a Hitchcock flashback borrowed from Stage Fright, a Bertolucci-esque apartment sequence that could be titled Last Tango in Auschwitz) are simplistic to a fault; they lack the multifaceted suspense and sensuality typified by those directors at their best.

    Time Out New York Full Review
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