Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Debt - Movie Review

It's unusual to see a movie come out mid-week to not much hype or advertising, but has a strong cast backing it up. It's just as unusual when the movie is actually good. The Debt is one of these movies. It appears The Debt was pushed back from it's original December release, which would normally be a bad sign, but it appears the release was pushed back more for legal reasons.

The movie follows the story of a small, Israeli team that is trying to track down a Nazi doctor, who performed human experiments, capture him and bring him to justice. The story is told more in flashbacks, with it jumping between the younger versions of the team played by Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas, and the older versions played by Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson.

I don't have that much more to say about the plot, as I don't want to spoil anything. I will say that there is an interesting dilemma the characters have to go through and there's a complex moral message as a result. The movie is tense, has some nice action sequences and is nicely paced. I never found myself checking my phone to see how much time the movie had left.

The performances are all good across the board, but with this strong of a cast, that shouldn't surprise anyone. Jessica Chastain is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses and I was surprised by Sam Worthington's performance. He normally is just kind of 'blah', but I felt like he was pretty strong here. The doctor, played by Jesper Christensen, is also very good.

This was an American remake of an Israeli film of the same name from 2007. The remake was directed by John Madden, who has retired from football to become a pretty good director. Just kidding, this is a different John Madden. This is the John Madden that has directed films like Shakespeare in Love and Killshot.

Matthew Vaughn co-wrote the screenplay and continues to show why he's one of my favorite writers and directors. It's interesting that this is the second film this summer he's been involved in that dealt with some kind of Nazi hunting. He seems to excel at this. I almost have to wonder if he took unused stuff from The Debt and threw it into X-Men: First Class.

Overall, The Debt is a good thriller with an interesting story and strong performances. This is a strong matinee recommendation.

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