The Debt has all it needs to be a really great film and it has more help than it needs when it comes to casting. Helen Mirren rarely disappoints and she doesn’t this time either. Young Jessica Chastain slips into her role like a glove and she’s backed perfectly by Marton Csokas and Sam Worthington. Jesper Christensen plays a Hannibal Lector like villain to perfection. The story flashes back and forward with ease and grace.
The story itself, however, sucks.
I like Nazi hunter films but let’s face it; 1945 was sixty-six years ago. There aren’t very many Nazis left, and even fewer worth mentioning anymore. To create a work of fiction that cloaks a setting around the concept of Nazi hunters risks at this day and age of ether irrelevancy or anachronism. Yet it is totally doable, if done right, but it isn’t. The film has a cast. The film has a perfect setting. The film has great acting. The film has action if not too much violence. The film is done very well except the story really sucks.
The main plot is what does the story in, for the nuanced subplots weave perfectly in with the characters. There is chemistry with these people and they make it look easy. The costumes, the dreary old Berlin, the cold war tension, the whole damn thing is just so good you want to find the writer and ask one simple question, “Why does this story suck?”
A very simple question of being honest is wrapped around a very dangerous covert operation where deception is the difference between life and death. It’s naive, terribly naive, to think for a moment that anyone hunting Nazis ought to tell the truth about what they have done and why. Were I involved in something like that I could give a damn less about the truth when it comes to slaying monsters. The truth ought to be held in high regard, do not misunderstand me at all here. But when dealing with some of the most evil human beings who ever breathed air, a simple lie is the least of wrongs.