Tis the season for dead drops and tricked out gadgets. 2011 is ending with a bang thanks to a few big name spy movies coming out at the end of the year Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a perfect fit for the action junkies. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy appeals to those looking for more double crosses and trust issues. Another spy film just hit DVD and Blu-Ray from earlier in the year. The Debt comes packed with big-name English actors, an Academy Award winning director and a story that spans three decades. Is it worth accepting this mission? Check out our review after the jump.
The Debt tells the story of three Mossad agents in Berlin during the 60’s. Their mission is to apprehend an escaped Nazi doctor known as “The Surgeon of Birkenau” who has popped up as a gynecologist. Rachel Singer (Jessica Chastain) is called into get close to the doctor as a patient, while fellow agents Stefan Gold (Marton Csokas) and David Peretz (Sam Worthington) prepare a way to get the doctor out of Berlin and back to Israel for trial. The story also takes place in the 90’s, where all three agents (Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciaran Hinds) have lived with what they’ve done for thirty years. But is their story the truth and what happens if the truth comes out?
Director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) keeps things moving quickly. The first act is a tight heist segment. The middle becomes a single set play as the doctor plays the agents against each other looking to weaken them and seize an opportunity to escape. The final act follows the older Rachael as she decides to put things right even at the cost of her own life. The story spins through some decent twists right up to the end. There’s also some tense scenes between young Rachael and the Nazi doctor during her examinations.
Most of the action takes place with the younger set of actors. While they do well, it is a shame that the heavyweights are mostly sidelined till the third act. The two male agents don’t get much past their suave Bond/driven Bourne early sketches. IIt’s hard to tell them apart when their older. haunted versions appear. Mirren plays a driven women like nobody’s business and the movie suffers from a distinct lack of punch whenever she is not on screen.
The features are pretty bare. There are three small featurettes that run less than five minutes each that also draw from the same actor interviews. Mirren talks about an “unholy alliance” in each piece. Watching them back-to-back clearly exposes some thin bonuses. There are also a collection of spy thriller trailers from studios related to Focus Features. When a company puts other companies’ trailers on the disc, it’s a clear sign that the budget doesn’t have much room for bells and whistles.
Spy fans looking for a decent way to spend an evening back in the good old days of the Cold War will find The Debt an excellent choice for an evening.