I’m not sure why Helen Mirren is a modern day action hero, nor do I care. I do know that whatever she has going, is working and working well in her new film The Debt.
Set in two different eras, The Debt aims to tell the truth. First in 1965, a young group of Israeli spies are on a mission in East Berlin to find and bring to justice a wicked Nazi doctor who has evaded capture. With the help of a fellow spy Stephan, who has finally tracked down said doctor, Rachel (Jessica Chastain,) and David (Sam Worthington) posing as a young couple trying to have a baby to get close to the doc. Something goes wrong.
The second plot exists in 1997, where the truth of what actually happens comes back to haunt older Rachel (Helen Mirren,) older David and older Stephan (Tom Wilkinson.) They set out to take action to settle their debt.
The film bounces back and forth in time, but in a reasonable way that sews the eras together. The scenes from the 60’s in Berlin are far more tense, action packed and satisfying.
I can fault the film for the same reason. The constant comparisons between the younger versions of the character and the older versions was a disconnect. They don’t look all that similar, therefore my brain couldn’t keep track of all the names and faces.
Still, The Debt has an old school thriller feel to it. Partly because of the solid story line and partly because the cast has the maturity to pull it all off. With spy stories, you often get the feeling that there will be a double agent to throw you the twist, but the essence of this movie is simpler.
As with most good films, you question some of your own thoughts on the subject at hand. Is a lie the best solution if it what’s good for the masses? Is it ever too late to tell the truth? Is forgiveness still an option? I forgive The Debt for its foibles and still feel satisfied after watching.