Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Debt

The movie opens as three Israeli heroes disembark the cargo craft in Tel Aviv. Everyone shakes hands, everyone smiles. The movie then flashes back to reveal what actually happened that made these two young men and a woman so celebrated.

So, I thought, I've already seen this, they've told us what happened, so why would they show it again? Except I was wrong. What took place isn't what I was expecting at all.

And when we flash forward some 40 years later, Helen Mirren takes over for the young Rachel. She's got the accent, the fire in the eyes. The two other actors playing the mature versions of the young men aren't as fortunate. Tom Wilkinson, one of our finest, and most prolific, actors today, totally carries off the mannerisms and even speech patterns of young Stephan, but he looks nothing like him. Ciaran Hinds plays the other older version, David, and doesn't quite convince us.

But don't let that put you off. The drama is alive, the tension is tough to take, and the acting is superb. One of the main reasons I wanted to see this film was because of Marton Csokas, who is a charismatic actor, but they're all good. And I'm now convinced that Worthington can act, something his previous outings (Avatar, Clash of the Titans) failed to do. And Jessica Chastain, who plays young Rachel -- well, you can't keep your eyes off her. And it becomes evident from the first time we see her that young Rachel is the focal point of the movie.

There were several scenes in the 1960's sequences that were really hard to watch. Not torture, but exposure to pure evil. But rather than make me avert my eyes, those scenes allowed me to identify with Rachel and feel for her.

But don't think that Mirren doesn't get her chances. The last several minutes of the film are devoted to her, when the older Rachel must become a Mossad agent once again. Riveting.

Thumb's up.


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