Cast-wise, The Debt has a lot going for it. Actors such as Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds are well known for the expertise they bring to their roles. Sam Worthington made an impression with Avatar while Jessica Chastain has been celebrated for her roles in The Tree of Life and The Help. So when they combine their talents in The Debt you know you have a major cast. Which is why it is so regrettable that the story does not support their talents.
Mirren, Wilkinson and Hinds play the 1990's versions of Rachel, Stephan and David. They carry with them a secret concerning an incident that happened back in the sixties. At that time they were on a mission for the Israeli government to hunt down Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen), a German doctor who committed war crimes against the Jewish population. He is living in Germany as Doctor Bernhardt, a friendly gynecologist.
Rachel (Chastain) and her two male colleagues, Stephan and David (Martin Csokas and Worthington), are sent to Germany to abduct him and take him to Israel. A large part of the movie is spent watching them get this done. This part is the most interesting of the film. The least interesting and least believable is when the older versions of these three have to undertake another mission, one they have created for themselves.
One of the big mysteries of the movie has to do with the casting. Mirren and Chastain have a vague resemblance that is acceptable, but Csokas and Wilkinson look nothing alike and the same is the case with Worthington and Hinds. To complicate things further, Csokas and Hinds have an uncanny resemblance. Go figure.
Another flaw is that at the end of the film, Mirren writes down the story of her life in two minutes. It is jarringly impossible to accept this. Add on an ending that leaves many questions unanswered and you have a film that just doesn't provide the audience with complete entertainment.
The film is rated R for profanity and violence.
The film belongs to Mirren. She is such an intriguing person and such an amazing actress that all others around her fade into the background. Since Chastain and Mirren are playing the same role some of Mirren's aura falls on Chastain and enhances her performance. Worthington makes the biggest impression among the male actors with his underpaying of the role of David. This is a different side of his talent and unlike any other performance he has given on screen.
The Debt has all the ingredients necessary to make an exciting and appealing film but the few glitches in its presentation weigh it down.
I scored The Debt an I.O.U. 5 out of 10.