Secrets always come out. When a former Mossad agent (Ciarán Hinds) is killed on the eve of the release of a book glorifying the events that made him and two others national heroes, Rachel Singer (Helen Mirren) is forced to face the past and weigh the consequences of telling the truth after so many years.
Most of The Debt takes place in Cold War flashbacks as Mossad agents Rachel Singer (Jessica Chastain), David Peretz (Sam Worthington), and Stefan Gold (Marton Csokas), are chosen to kidnap a Nazi scientist known as “The Surgeon of Birkenau” (Jesper Christensen), and smuggle him out of East Berlin for trial in Israel.
When the escape plan is compromised the three agents are forced to sit on the Nazi for days, as tensions fray, until a new plan can be devised. Eventually the doctor is shot by Rachel while trying to escape. At least that’s what history records.
Director John Madden, more known for period romances than action thrillers, does a good job right up until the point where the story fails him. The script by Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Peter Straughan (adapted from the original Israeli film) works well in building tension and slowly revealing its secrets as to what went wrong all those years ago in that tiny East Berlin apartment, but ultimately fails with one twist too many leading to an anti-climatic end for a film that deserved better.
Even if the film looses its way during its final act The Debt is definitely worth viewing. The performances are top notch (especially those of Chastain and Mirren), and the recreation of the setting and what the three agents were forced to endure as days turn into weeks is expertly done. I just wish the final moments would have lived up to the build up the film works so well to achieve.
Both the Blu-ray and DVD include a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film, as well as featurettes on Helen Mirren’s role and the central triangle at the heart of the film. Also included is commentary by Madden and producer Kris Thykier.