Mirren on top form in ‘The Debt’19/01/2012 - 15:29:18
The Debt (Cert 15, 113 mins, Action/Thriller)
In Tel Aviv, 1997, Sarah Singer (Romi Aboulafia) proudly unveils a book about her brave mother Rachel (Helen Mirren), father Stephan (Tom Wilkinson) and fellow Mossad operative David Peretz (Ciaran Hinds), who were dispatched to East Berlin in 1966 to hunt down Nazi war criminal Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen).
Confronted with this written account of the 1966 mission to capture Vogel, who conducted horrific experiments on Jews, Rachel recalls the past with shame and despair.
In flashback, we witness Rachel (Jessica Chastain), David (Sam Worthington) and Stephan (Marton Csokas) conceive a daring plan to kidnap ’the Surgeon of Birkenau’ from his practice and smuggle his heavily drugged body across the border on a night train. However, Vogel is no pushover.
The Debt is the gripping English-language remake of the Israeli film Ha-Hov about three retired Mossad agents who come face to face with the spectres of the past.
Tightly scripted by Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan, John Madden’s political thriller cranks up the tension and elegantly conceals plot twists by cutting back and forth between events in 1966 and 1997. Madden directs the set pieces with aplomb, including a perfectly timed escape from the doctor’s surgery.
Admittedly there are a few plot holes, not least the remarkable sprightliness and vigour of Vogel in the latter sequences.
Screen chemistry between Chastain and Worthington sizzles and Mirren commands attention in later sequences, capturing the despair of a woman who has been looking over her shoulder, waiting for the truth to catch up with her.
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