Friday, February 10, 2012

THE DEBT

Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciaran Hinds
Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Marton Csokas
Jesper Christensen


"Every Secret comes with a Price"




I've always had an affinity with spy thrillers more so than with romantic comedies/chick flicks. But I do indulge in a few predictable rom-com, every now and then. The intriguing plot of "The Debt" truly piqued my interest. And I'm glad to say, I wasn't disappointed.

The story unfolds in 1997, at a launch party for journalist Sarah Gold’s book about the exploits of a trio of Israeli Mossad agents. In 1966, they infiltrated East Berlin to abduct a certain Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen), a gynecologist. But during World War II, he was notoriously known as the "Surgeon of Birkenau", a doctor who experimented on Jewish children in the concentration camps. Two of the Mossad agents were Rachel Singer and Stephan Gold, the author's parents. The esteemed pair (now divorced) are widely acclaimed in Israel for their "successful" mission in the 60s.

Flitting between present Israel and East Berlin in the 60s, the narrative is told through flashbacks with younger actors portraying the 3 Mossad agents. We witness what truly unfolded during their dangerous mission through well coordinated action filled scenes with tension brewing at every turn. As well as the consequent toll it took on their lives when the secret they swore to uphold threatens to ruin not only their reputation but also shake the very core of the spy agency they belong(ed) to.

This remake of the 2007 Israeli film of the same title is directed by British director John Madden with an excellent cast of talented actors who draw out the calculated nuances of their characters with much precision.

Jessica Chastain turns in a searing performance as young Rachel, infusing her with aching vulnerability. Csokas brings a visceral life to Stephan's burning ambition, while Worthington embodies the tightly wound repression that fuels David.

Special mention goes to the chilling performance by Jesper Christensen as Vogel. What makes him so fearsome is the way he tries to "seduce" the young Mossad agents — for them to recognize him as being as much a human as they are, to see the very flaws they despise in him reflected in themselves. He was really very creepy.

Unfortunately, Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds, as the older agents came across as being too British, in my opinion. But they still acted quite well, no doubt about that!

In conclusion, I'd say a series of tightly coiled and excellently choreographed action sequences provided much depth to this highly suspenseful espionage thriller with a commendable cast. It's worth watching.

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