Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Movie with Abe: The Debt

The Debt
Directed by John Madden
Released August 31, 2011

Movies set in two different time periods chronicling the same people have advantages and disadvantages from the outset. There has to be a certain knowledge of what’s ultimately going to happen, even if some of the finer details are left to be discovered, simply because of the presence of specific characters in the future timeline. Positively, it does allow for multiple actors to offer their take on the same character, and for further depth to be added to each of the personalities. “The Debt” makes good use of its twin casts and presents an enticing, suspenseful thriller that’s worthwhile even if it’s not as satisfying as it hopes to be.

Jessica Chastain, making it big this year with roles in “The Tree of Life,” “The Help,” and the forthcoming “Take Shelter,” and Oscar winner Helen Mirren take on the role of Rachel Singer, a Mossad agent assigned to capture Nazi scientist Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen) with the help of fellow agents David Peretz (Sam Worthington and Ciarin Hinds) and Stephan Gold (Marton Csokas and Tom Wilkinson). The younger crew demonstrates a zeal for their country and for the livelihood of their mission, while the older three are far more hardened, disgruntled versions of themselves eager to move on with their lives and forget about what they had to do so many years earlier. If there’s one area in which “The Debt” indisputably excels, it’s the casting of each character’s twin portrayers.

The mission itself presents the able opportunity for a good thriller that utilizes precious few players, adding in some drama to the story with the internal struggle of the Mossad agents about their own humanity and how they should treat their horrible prisoner. While it’s certainly not fast-paced, “The Debt” remains actively interesting throughout its run time, and jumping forward to the future on occasion helps to speed along the process of revealing the major intrigue. Its contents shouldn’t disappoint, and the movie holds up decently well right after its big secret comes to light. As tends to be the case with films that tackle multiple time periods, one has more to offer than the other, and it’s the past that proves to be more enthralling, and therefore the film does become less captivating as it approaches its end. Nonetheless, there are some strong performances, particularly from rising star Chastain, and the makings of a good thriller here that doesn’t quite end as strongly as it begins.


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