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Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics What's this?

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6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 122 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: The Debt is the powerful story of Rachel Singer, a former Mossad agent who endeavored to capture and bring to trial a notorious Nazi war criminal—the Surgeon of Birkenau—in a secret Israeli mission that ended with his death on the streets of East Berlin. Now, 30 years later, a man claimingThe Debt is the powerful story of Rachel Singer, a former Mossad agent who endeavored to capture and bring to trial a notorious Nazi war criminal—the Surgeon of Birkenau—in a secret Israeli mission that ended with his death on the streets of East Berlin. Now, 30 years later, a man claiming to be the doctor has surfaced, and Rachel must go back to Eastern Europe to uncover the truth. Overwhelmed by haunting memories of her younger self and her two fellow agents, the still-celebrated heroine must relive the trauma of those events and confront the debt she has incurred. (Miramax Films) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Aug 30, 2011
    90
    Bristling with dangers both corporeal and cerebral, The Debt is a superbly crafted espionage thriller packed with Israeli-Nazi score settling.
  2. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Aug 30, 2011
    80
    This is real edge-of-your-seat stuff, in a throwback way - no booming special effects, just old-school timing and execution.
  3. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Aug 30, 2011
    75
    A more daring script might have found ways to tell the stories in parallel, doling out just enough information to keep viewers involved. But, as it is, The Debt grasps the viewer pretty firmly, delivering thrills without trivializing the moral quandaries that set it in motion.
  4. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    Aug 30, 2011
    70
    The remake ups the adrenaline factor, and features strong performances across the board, yet feels bogged down by a weighty love triangle and a subject that merits more than the old-school good vs. evil approach.
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 31, 2011
    63
    There are some nice surprises in store, as well, but the longer Madden's story goes on, the more manufactured things tend to feel.
  6. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Sep 2, 2011
    61
    The movie drowns the deeper questions it raises in a sadistic procedural, an endless circular motion of fight scenes whose only justification is themselves.
  7. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Aug 30, 2011
    40
    Despite the chronological juggling, the film's stylistic debts (a Hitchcock flashback borrowed from Stage Fright, a Bertolucci-esque apartment sequence that could be titled Last Tango in Auschwitz) are simplistic to a fault; they lack the multifaceted suspense and sensuality typified by those directors at their best.

See all 37 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 41
  2. Negative: 4 out of 41
  1. Jan 7, 2012
    10
    Excellent...across the board. Intense and complex ... well executed, superb acting. Not sure if those who gave this a lower rating watchedExcellent...across the board. Intense and complex ... well executed, superb acting. Not sure if those who gave this a lower rating watched the same movie. It's a 10...hands down. Expand
  2. Sep 18, 2011
    9
    Very well made and acted, The Debt is a thriller with a definite European style and an intellectual point to make. Many thrillers skirt theVery well made and acted, The Debt is a thriller with a definite European style and an intellectual point to make. Many thrillers skirt the issue of whether or not the "hero's" actions can be justified - whether the ends justify the means. This movie sets about the task of asking the question directly and provides an existential answer. There is true suspense in this film, and it is unrelenting. I was entirely engrossed. If you liked "Tell No One," you'll really like this. Expand
  3. Jan 15, 2012
    8
    This was a good movie and was certainly a "nail biter" on many levels. The actors were first rate but the twists and turns in the plot madeThis was a good movie and was certainly a "nail biter" on many levels. The actors were first rate but the twists and turns in the plot made it hard to follow. I am also not totally sure where the title comes from...I guess I will figure that out some day.... The scene at the railroad station was harrowing and could have been in any **** flick. One reviewer suggested that the narrative could have done in parallel with the 60s played against the 90s. Also, I think a reference to the capture and trial of Eichmann would have lent some historic credibility and grounding to the movie... All that being said, it was a fascinating one to watch... Expand
  4. Sep 23, 2011
    7
    In a sea of predictable, bland and generally un-thrilling thrillers, The Debt is a breath of fresh air. Helen Mirren (Even though her screenIn a sea of predictable, bland and generally un-thrilling thrillers, The Debt is a breath of fresh air. Helen Mirren (Even though her screen time is severely limited) shines as usual, and Jessica Chastain proves that she's a star in the making with a heaping amount of acting talent. There are some casting issues, but they can be forgiven for the stylish direction and dramatic, quality ending. Expand
  5. Feb 5, 2015
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. is it too late to re-cut?

    The Debt is one of those movies you wish you could re-write yourself. that's because it comes so close to being an exceptional espionage thriller. The younger 1960's episodes are great. Provocative, thrilling, intense. The mission to kill the murderous doctor works really well. The flawed humanity of the 3 "debtors" verses the calculating coldheartedness of the ex-Nazi is enthralling. The love triangle and resulting pregnancy are perfect. Jessica Chastain is wonderful to watch. All four actors are great. But jump to the 1990's and the drama slows to a creaky halt. I like Helen Mirren but to see what becomes of these three young dynamic revolutionary figures is a huge let-down. The climax of watching two very old people wrestling on the floor to the death is too pathetic to watch, and makes the entire plot seem unintentionally absurd. Unfortunately, because of a three decade leap, The Debt essentially boils down to: It sucks to be old.

    A five year jump after the botched assassination would have been sufficient, instead of thirty years, and it could have used the same actors. The movie would have been less disjointed and opened up more possibilities in the way of male rivalry, revenge and romance. And heat up to a more satisfying climax and conclusion.

    Just eliminating most of the 1997 scenes would have made a better picture.
    Expand
  6. Jan 8, 2012
    5
    Exciting and tension filled for the flashback, 1965-66 section. Even though a lot is displayed about what happens through forwards and back inExciting and tension filled for the flashback, 1965-66 section. Even though a lot is displayed about what happens through forwards and back in time, I was still into it. Was all set to recommend, but then the ending. Cop out, main character goes through the same thing as before, absolutely no reason for her holier than thou decision. The 1997 section had too many contrivances and logistical missteps.Ii have no problem suspending reality on timings and situations. Heck, it's a movie. But films boil down to the characters. Are they believable, why do they do what they do, what would I do? And Rachel just doesn't ring true. She is willing to jeopardize everything. She wasn't going to tell the truth when the one she loved wanted to. And then, Okshe''ll tell and hurt a lot of people and help no one; except I guess herself (she'll feel better). I liked it a lot in the 60's, a little less as each decade goes by, and the present (90's) just kill it. Too bad because the acting is good, story interesting, it's just poor Rachel, in the end, who sinks it. Expand
  7. Sep 5, 2011
    1
    In what had the potential to be a gripping thriller, The Debt takes way too long to get to its interesting plot twist, which turns out to beIn what had the potential to be a gripping thriller, The Debt takes way too long to get to its interesting plot twist, which turns out to be poorly overwritten, pathetically directed and mind-numbingly paced, even stellar acting pedigree cannot save this immensely bad film.   Expand

See all 41 User Reviews

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