DVD Release Date: December 6, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: August 31, 2011
Rating: R (for some violence and language)
Genre: Thriller, Drama
Run Time: 114 min.
Director: John Madden
Actors: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciarán Hinds, Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Marton Csokas, Jesper Christensen

Kicking off the end-of-summer movie season with a potent mix of substance and style, The Debt is a thought-provoking thriller that’s actually worthy of its stellar cast, particularly newcomer Jessica Chastain (The Help) in her meatiest role to date and Helen Mirren (Arthur), who showcases some seriously killer instincts as Rachel Singer, a former Mossad officer who helped take down a Nazi war criminal, Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen, The Young Victoria).

Set in two different eras with the same three characters anchoring the story, The Debt is based on the Israeli film by the same name. Unlike many stories that simply get lost in translation when being adapted to English, however, The Debt not only holds your attention for nearly two hours (a rare feat at the cinema these days), but offers plenty of food for thought, given the story’s intriguing themes and moral dilemmas sprinkled throughout the script.

Kicking off at a book launch in 1997 where three former Mossad agents including Singer, her ex-husband Stephan (Tom Wilkinson, The Green Hornet) and their former colleague and friend, David (Ciarán Hinds, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2) are being honored for their bravery, it quickly becomes apparent that not all is as it seems. In fact, as the trio exchanges subtle but all-too-knowing glances, you immediately wonder if their heroism isn’t a bit, well, exaggerated. 

Next, a flashback to 1965 only heightens the intrigue. This time around, a much younger Rachel (Chastain) and a much younger David (Sam Worthington, Clash of the Titans) are posing as a young married couple trying for their first baby. Naturally, it’s not fertility tips they’re looking for. Instead, they’re hoping to gain better access to the aforementioned Dieter, who’s now posing as an anonymous German gynecologist after his reign as the Surgeon of Birkenau during World War II.