Saturday, 4 August 2012

Film Review: THE DEBT (2011)

The Debt - poster Director: John Madden
Writers: Matthew Vaughn (screenplay), Jane Goldman (screenplay), Peter Straughan (screenplay), Assaf Bernstein (film “Ha-Hov”), Ido Rosenblum (film “Ha-Hov”)
Running Time: 109 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Thriller
UK Release Date: 30th September 2011

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 4th August 2012.


I remember seeing a trailer for this at the cinema all the way back in 2010 but it never seemed to appear! It did, of course, finally get a release but was (as far as I know) not all that well received. The trailer had done its work on me though and I remembered it when I saw it land in the TV listings. It’s an interesting film that has both good and bad parts. I will tell you more after this very brief summary.


Film Frame

(L-R) Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Marton Csokas

©Miramax Film Corp. All Rights Reserved. When a Mossad team is sent to East Berlin in 1965 to find and bring back a Nazi war criminal, they begin a train of events that will follow them for many years to come. The team consists of Rachel Singer, Stephan Gold and David Peretz. Their target is a man who calls himself Doktor Bernhardt, who is in reality Dieter Vogel; the notorious ‘Surgeon of Birkeanu’. The action switches between 1997 and 1965 as we are told of the events in Berlin in flashback. The results of these events have long-reaching and very different effects on the three members of the team. I really don’t want to say any more or I may give too much away (and the Spoiler Police wouldn’t like that!).

The Debt - 7 A very well made film which I found notable for the performances of those involved. With the action being split between two timelines there are two actors for each of the main parts; Helen Mirren was excellent as Rachel Singer (1997) and I thought Jessica Chastain was equally good in the same part circa 1965. Tom Wilkinson was great (as ever) as Stephan Gold (1997) with Marton Csokas doing a fine job in 1965. Finally there’s Ciarán Hinds who did a good job as David Peretz (1997) and Sam Worthington did an excellent job as the 1965 version. I should also give a mention to Jesper Christensen who did a great job as Doktor Bernhardt / Dieter Vogel.

The Debt - 1 Based on the Israeli film, “Ha-Hov” (which I haven’t seen), I could see parallels with the Steven Spielberg film “Munich”. Surprisingly, there is a long section of the film that concentrates on the events in Berlin which I thought was maybe a bit too long. There needed to be (IMO) a little more grounding in 1997 as that is where the film ends. Having said that, I did find this tale quite gripping with an unexpected outcome. I liked the way certain details were kept from the audience until the action switched to 1997. Over all, an interesting drama/thriller with some great performances; I just felt it needed a little more… Still, worth a look.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED.

My Score 7.1/10

IMDb Score: 6.9/10 (based on 28,779 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 65/100: (Based on 37 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

The Debt - 5 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 76/100 (based on 165 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 67/100 ‘Liked It’ (based on 30,552 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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[first lines]
Young Stephan: Breathe.

Young David: Here you are a Mossad agent, all those years of training, the highest levels of marksmanship and krav maga, and your first big mission is sewing.
Young Rachel: Black belt in dressmaking.
[brandishing a pin]
Young David: I never argue with an armed woman.
Young Rachel: [stabs him with the pin]

The Debt - 8 Doktor Bernhardt: Do it. You want to do it... Do it.
Young Rachel: [finishes shaving his neck]
Doktor Bernhardt: That's right. I'd forgotten. You Jews never knew how to kill. Only how to die.

The Debt - 3 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site:
Official Facebook:

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