The Debt 2011

The Debt

Critics Consensus

Its time-shifting narrative creates distracting casting problems, but ultimately, The Debt is a smart, well-acted entry in a genre that could use more like it.

77%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 185

66%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 35,895

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Movie Info

In 1965, young Mossad agent Rachel Singer (Jessica Chastain) and two comrades (Sam Worthington, Marton Csokas) are involved in a secret mission to capture a Nazi war criminal known as the Surgeon of Birkenau (Jesper Christensen). The mission ends with the man's death on the streets of East Berlin. Thirty years later, a man claiming to be the doctor has appeared, and Rachel (Helen Mirren), haunted by memories of past events, must return to Eastern Europe to uncover the truth.

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Critic Reviews for The Debt

All Critics (185) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (142) | Rotten (43)

Audience Reviews for The Debt

  • Nov 26, 2013
    An impressively shot but ultimately dissatisfying exercise in getting revenge on the Nazis for their crimes against humanity, with this story taking focus on a sadistic doctor (Jesper Christensen) who fled Germany after ruthlessly operating and experimenting on the many Jews that came through the concentration camps. After twenty years, his whereabouts are discovered, and three agents (Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas, and Sam Worthington) are sent to capture him and bring him to justice. The movie constantly shifts between flashbacks of the agents, their mission, and the problems they face, to thirty years later when they are older (played by Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, and Ciaran Hinds, respectively) and wear a distinct look of regret on all of their faces for some unknown reason (until the film's middle-section explains why). These shifts in time create an uneasy balance despite the excitement the flashback scenes hold, including what may be the best Sam Worthington performance to date. It is not a terrible movie, but it could have been so much more with better direction and overall better construction of the story and how to tell it. The acting is expectedly top-notch, which gives the story life when in most cases it would start to lose its audience, but by the end of the film, you can not help but be a little disappointed that a fascinating story like this was not better executed.
    Dan S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 16, 2013
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img] Original thriller storylines have become show stopping, and unfortunately one doesn't come around that often. But this film is an entertaining, well acted and pleasantly witty espionage thriller. It deserves loads of praise for boasting a unique premise however I struggled to see how it was living up to it's full potential. Due to it's confusing narrative The Debt brought about a severe case of self-aggrandizing ambition overdose. It never knows when to cool down and too often switches it's genres aimlessly. It begins as a character drama, then becomes the thriller it wanted to be, then a fish out of water romance and finally a drama again. It's one of those films that never knows when it's on the right track. Consequently various plot holes start to appear among cliched character development and eventually a sense of self indulgence. But what saves it is terrifically outstanding performances from it's solid, talented cast and some very cleverly paced action thrills. Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain are naturally brilliant despite being on autopilot. Sam Worthington is the weirdest surprise as he actually proves that he can act. Some dull and lifeless forerunner performances make this particular role stand out. After it's confusing start, unexpected plot twists flesh out the suspense, although it could have beneffited as a whole if it the plot was linear. So it's by far and away not a masterpiece as it lacks any outstanding moments that will stay in memory but overall the simplicity of it's intrigue underneath the baggage of it's running time and entirely unnecessary time twists is a really thoughtful and fun thriller idea that I would definitely recommend seeing at least once. I suppose the fact that you can't say much about it goes to prove just how unremarkable it is.
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 04, 2013
    Jessica Chastain and Hellen Mirren are as great as usual in "The Debt", and the film also manages some effective editing and cool storytelling tricks. Unfortunately, the film stumbles constantly, be it due to Sam Worthington's absent-minded performance, the overall drab and lifeless color palette, and a ridiculous ending that in no way fits with the rest of the movie.
    Sam B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 25, 2012
    What to think of a film whose characters are so inept to carry out an important mission that you end up cheering against them? - a problem that undermines an engaging story full of dramatic potential, before it goes out of control in a frustrating last act.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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