The Debt

Rated 4.0

There’s much of interest here for viewers willing to venture outside the confines of that generic thriller mindset: a peculiar romantic triangle; a meditation on moral and political absolutism; a study of the fascist personality; some unexpectedly nuanced reflections on the battle against (and also with) monstrous evil. The basic story revolves around the post-World War II pursuit and capture of a Nazi war criminal, the notorious Dr. Vogel (aka the “Surgeon of Birkenau”) by a trio of Israeli intelligence agents. The action moves back and forth between two distinct eras—1965 in East Berlin where the threesome first captures Vogel (who is reported dead before he can be put on trial in Israel), and 1997 when word surfaces that Vogel may still be alive and in hiding. The three agents are played by Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciarán Hinds in 1997, and Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas in 1965. That too makes for some perplexing complications, but each of the six brings a certain gravity and credibility to roles that occasionally veer toward the unlikely. Cinemark 14. Rated R