Review: The Debt

Sam Worthington — movie star or some bloke who happens to be in big movies? Popular myth has it that when casting around for the last James Bond, the final two was between him and Daniel Craig.

In the two years between the end of filming Avatar and its release a mighty buzz grew around him, suggesting we would be blown away when we saw him in Terminator:Salvation and Avatar.

But we weren't. Like Paul Walker of the Fast and Furious films he has something of Steve McQueen about him, but not nearly enough.

After a run of big budget movies he appears in this Nazi hunter love triangle tale about three Mossad agents trying to capture a Doctor Mengele-style death camp doctor.

The film has a split cast/split narrative structure that flicks between a cast of unknowns in 1965 in East Berlin trying to abduct the Nazi war criminal, and Israel in 1997 where their older versions, played by name actors, are about to face the ramifications of their actions 30 years previously.

I ask the question about Worthington because he pops up in the wrong half of the draw, in amongst the up-and-comers in the when-they-were-young section.

And he's very good but he really doesn't stand out. If you had to pick a star from the three I go for Csokas, a New Zealander, who has a compelling face that seems to have a happy knack of flicking between a resemblance to Russell Crowe and Bruno Ganz.

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It's a problem for the film that there's no real connection between the old cast and the new. The new trio have a sense of hunger and desire while the experienced players just seem rather complacent.

As a thriller The Debt, a remake of an Israeli film Ha-Hov, is tense and engrossing and pulls off a couple of very satisfying surprises. But the love triangle angle is trivialising and any scenes which try to explore in more depth the horrors of the death camps seem trite.

It occupies that Marathon Man territory of being a pulpy plot with some more serious aspirations.

It tops Marathon Man in one respect: instead of a Nazi Dentist it has a Nazi Gynaecologist.


Director: John Madden

Starring: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson, Ciaran Hinds, Marton Csokas, Jessica Chastain

Length: 114 mins