A Rarity: A Debt That Pays

The Debt: a remake espionage story full of intrigue, suspense, mystery, action, and history that tantalizes and surprises beyond initial expectations.

Having its release date pushed back from December 29, 2010 to August 31, 2011 did not bode well for this film starring Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Tom Wilkinson, and more. Once a film’s date is pushed back from “Oscar season” to “Non-Oscar season” it always calls for reason to question. Thankfully, The Debt did not exclude itself from nomination consideration, it merely post-poned it for a year! Based on the 2007 thriller drama Israeli film of the same name, The Debt focuses on 3 Mossad secret agents during two different time periods (the 1960’s and the late 1990’s), and the secrecy of the one mission that ties them together through time. A dangerous mission that involves tracking down Nazi war criminal, the evil “Surgeon of Birkenau” played by Jesper Christiansen.

The film begins with a very captivating tone of secrecy that maintains itself through the entire movie. Right away the audience will understand that not everything will be explained in the usual “movie chronological order.” Causing confusion for some, this theme of the movie allows it to stay true to itself and in turn allows the performances in the movie to have greater merit. We, along with them, are discovering, learning, and understanding what has transpired and still is to come.

One of the greatest strengths of this film that I have not seen done so well in quite some time is the dual casting of the same characters who share so much of the screen time. About half of the movie takes place in the 60’s while the other half takes place in the 90’s, and the actors in each respective time period definitely impress in their character continuity!

  • Rachel Singer: Jessica Chastain (1960s)/Helen Mirren (1990s)
  • Stephan Gold: Marton Csokas (1960s)/ Tom Wilkinson (1990s)
  • David Peretz: Sam Worthington (1960s)/Ciarán Hinds (1990s)

Excellently portrayed. And as far as Sam Worthington is concerned. Forget he ever was in Avatar and Clash of the Titans! He’s got some acting chops after all!

The star of the film, not surprisingly though, is Helen Mirren, who studied Hebrew, Jewish customs, and Holocaust writings in order to prepare for this role, executes her part perfectly! Once again, Dame Mirren, “Bravo” I say to thee!

On a few other notes of the film, I did not expect as many exciting scenes as were in it. Nor did I expect to see a greater balance of character development/action in this Focus Feature. I, sadly, was disappointed with the last Focus Features I went to see. Click HERE. So, needless to say I needed a win from Focus Features, and The Debt paid off! The cinematography, believability and angst of the characters, the historical elements, and shrouds of mystery/danger all add to the great cast, story, and direction to make The Debt a win!

Directed by Academy Award Nominee John Madden, with screenplay written by Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) this espionage thriller is a definite enjoyment, far beyond the likes of other hopefuls such as George Clooney’s The American.

Thanks for reading!

Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy Watching!

TheSp1der’s Score: 3 out of 5 stars for “The Debt

up next: “Trailer Time Thursday!”



  1. Have you seen Munich? How does that compare to this movie? I’m less than intrigued by this film but maybe I will check it out on Netflix in a couple months 🙂


    • I am sorry my friend, I have not had the pleasure. but The Debt definitely brought some elements that I was not expecting and I enjoyed it more for that reason. I hope that it impresses you likewise


    • let me know if you decide to see it. not much else of value comes out this weekend with Shark Night 3D and Apollo 18 (both of which have pretty much had their entire plot given away via the trailers).


  2. Hi, ScarlerSp1der and company:

    ‘The Debt’ sounds like a fun afternoon filled with suspense, intrigue and perhaps, a double cross mixed in.

    Been following the trailers and each new one piques my interest more and more. Interested to see how Jessica Chastain handles Dame Mirren’s character in her youth.


    • I hope you like it when you see it. Thanks for taking the time to check out the review and comment!

      Jessica Chastain, IMO, was a fantastic choice to act as the younger Helen Mirren character. It will seem that not only does Chastain play a great “younger Mirren,” but that Mirren, in turn, plays a great “older Chastain.” I think you will find that they compliment each other quite well.


  3. I can’t wait to see this hopefully on Saturday, been waiting for a while for it and was even worried it’d go straight to dvd after Miramax went kaput. I love the cast, especially Mirren, no doubt she is the star of the film. I’m kinda glad they featured her on the poster and she gets top billing


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