Monday, 23 January 2012

Blu-ray Review: The Debt

Based on an Israeli film from 2007, this American remake of The Debt is penned by Kick Ass scribes Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman and is directed by period drama enthusiast, John Madden (not to be confused with the ageing NFL ex-pro and commentator).

With the original gaining little attention at the time, the heavyweight ensemble of this version alone earns it more attention and not just because it stars the legendary Helen Mirren. She's joined by rising talent Jessica Chastain, who plays the younger version of her, as well as the likes of Tom Wilkinson, Ciarán Hinds and Sam Worthington, too.

The story takes place in 1997 where Rachel (Mirren) is thrust into the media spotlight as she (and more so her daughter) promotes her book of memoirs from her time serving in the mid 60's as a Mossad agent in Israel, as she- along with team members Stephan (Tom Wilkinson) and David (Ciarán Hinds) - attempt to track down and capture Nazi war criminal Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen). 

The story frequently shifts from one time period to the other; as we witness the younger versions of the trio (including Marton Csokas as Stephan and Sam Worthington as David, respectively) undertake their mission as an intriguing plot and tense thriller unfolds.

Notably, the acting is great, especially with the talent involved, however their questionable accents are the obvious flaw in an otherwise strong array of performances. Whilst it would seem Chastain has been in pretty much everything in 2011, this is by no means one of her stronger contributions, yet she competently portrays an emotionally layered role convincingly, with worthy support from Csokas and Worthington at her side. What unfolds is a dangerous game of secrets, lies and cover ups as a gripping against-the-clock scenario presents itself. What's more is that the central characters embark in an emotionally provocative love triangle that has repercussions both in 1965 as well as 30 years later.

The script is well written and tightly structured, as the bulk of the plot takes place during the 60's; the decade switches aren't as confusing or poorly executed as one might expect, but are expressed coherently and should avoid disorientating viewers.

VERDICT: The Debt ultimately lacks that killer touch and the level of high suspense that transforms it from a great thriller to a superb one. However, solid acting coupled with a well paced exploration of its character arcs prove that sometimes a remake can succeed, as Madden invites his audience to experience the thrills and intensity this has to offer.


A Look Inside The Debt
Every Secret Has A Price: Helen Mirren In The Debt
Feature Commentary With Director John Madden & Producer Kris Thykier

Very disappointing if truth be told, with only a couple of minutes of interviews and footage that are repeated in both the featurettes.


The Debt is out now on Blu-ray & DVD.