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The Debt

A movie directed by John Madden.

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Madden makes good

  • Aug 31, 2011


Written by Matthew Vaughan, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan

Directed by John Madden

Starring Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain and Tom Wilkinson


Stephan Gold: Truth is a luxury.


Debt has always been something of a dirty word but hopefully the anxiety it inspires in people won’t keep them away from the new John Madden film, entitled THE DEBT. Those who do see it will be swept up in a whole other kind of restless stress, the kind only a good thriller can provide. Madden’s remake of the 2007 Israeli film tells the story of three young Mossad agents (Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain and Martin Csokas) and their successful mission to hunt down and kill one of the worst Nazis to go missing after the war. Many years later, Ciarin Hinds, Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson must cover up the lies surrounding that mission that they’ve been hiding ever since. 


Debt weighs you down and and the trio of combatants in THE DEBT know this all too well. Without revealing what they’re keeping secret, the secrets themselves have kept all three of them trapped in the 1960’s, when they successfully caught one of the most nefarious, infamous, and not to mention fictional, nazis ever to escape capture at the end of World War II. While they keep him under watch and await instructions as to what to do with him, things go awry. This is where the lying starts and the truth threatens to show it’s “ugly” head some 30 years later. The time passed has given the initial debt time to grow and now their lies echo around the world. While the global impact of the truth coming out would be monumental, Mirren, as Rachel Singer, is most worried her daughter will find out her mother has been lying to her for her entire life.


Aside from the clear morality lesson at play, THE DEBT, does not spend a lot of time trying to make grand statements, political or otherwise. Instead, it focuses on maintaining suspense while exposing the humanity of what it means to lie about something on such an international scale. Sure, the players are only debating coming clean now that their cover could potentially be blown but that does not take away from the weight they have carried all these years. Their personal debts have taxed them all greatly and the performances, great across the board, including yet another mesmerizing turn from Chastain, are all heavy and harrowing. It is not about emotion for them but rather everything they do is for the mission. Fortunately, Madden accomplishes his mission with style and great tension, allowing for him to make good on this debt.

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LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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September 05, 2011
Thanks for this. What are the negatives, though? Your rating makes this sound like something I'd like to see, but the rating of 3 makes me wonder.
September 29, 2011
My 3 is really an 8 on 10 and at that point, its more personal taste than anything else. It was a strong thriller but it doesn't bring anything new to the table.
August 31, 2011
this one is beginning tonight. I have such high expectations for it, which potentially could ruin it for me; thanks for keeping those expectations fair. I like incredibly tense films as long as they aren't overwrought. Thanks, Joseph! How have you been? Back now...
September 29, 2011
I'm glad to see you enjoyed it. I was supposed to interview Jessica Chastain during TIFF but it was cancelled at the last minute. I was seriously heartbroken. I'm so in love with her.
More The Debt (2011 movie) reviews
review by . September 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A Debt Of Honor and Every Secret Needs To Be Paid....
I am rather feeling that I am getting repetitive when I say “remakes are a dime-a-dozen” these days, but this is actually fact. I usually don’t like remakes, though there are a few that were arguably better than the original in my view (John Carpenter‘s “the Thing“, Cronenberg‘s “The Fly“, the Coen’s “True Grit” and the more recent “I Spit on Your Grave“ to name some). Director John Madden’s “The Debt” …
review by . August 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'The Debt' 'Two Jews On Film' Find This Spy Thriller, Thrilling (Video)
      Even the best secret agents carry a debt from a past mission. Rachael Singer must now face up to hers...      'The Debt' directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) is the story of what happens when the lie you've been living for decades finally catches up to you. What do you do?      The year is 1997. Rachel (Helen Mirren) and her husband Stephan (Tom Wilkinson) retired Mossad secret agents learn that their former colleague, …
review by . September 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I go to movies all the time while in release, one to two a week. Seeing Jessica Chastain in both The Help, and Tree of Life, made me decide to see The Debt, my favorite moviegoing experience of the year.     Director John Madden directed Shakespeare in Love which won 7 Academy Awards including, Best Actress for Gwyneth Paltrow, and Best Supporting Actress for Judi Dench. He also directed Prime Suspect 3 starring both Helen Mirren and Ciaran Hinds, who both star in The Debt; and …
review by . August 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         According to Wikipedia, the modern-day definition of a hero is a character that, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, displays courage and the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. The Debt tells the story of three people who may or may not fit this description. I have to be careful with my wording here, since the film depends on a great deal of secrecy – and to my great surprise and delight, very few …
Quick Tip by . September 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The Debt, an exceptional thriller, works on many levels. Its structure has just enough pay-attention moments that some viewers will be confused if they don’t. That’s big plus for me. The plot is about a search by three Mossad agents for a Nazi war criminal, the Surgeon of Birkenau. They plan to take him alive and return with him to Israel to stand trial. There are tense, queasy scenes that range from gynecology exams to insidious attempts to undermine the three by the doctor. There is …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #24
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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About this movie



Director: John Madden
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Release Date: 31 August 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman
Runtime: UK: 114 min(theatrical version)
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