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The Debt

  R HD Closed Captioning

John Madden

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Plot Summary

Academy Award® winner Helen Mirren and two-time Academy Award® nominee Tom Wilkinson star in The Debt, “a pulse-pounding and politically charged suspense thriller.” (Karen Durbin, Elle) In 1966, three Mossad agents were assigned to track down a feared Nazi war criminal hiding in East Berlin, a mission accomplished at great risk and personal cost – or was it? Thirty years later, the suspense builds as shocking news and surprising revelations compel retired team member Rachel Singer (Mirren) to take matters into her own hands. Co-starring Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain and Ciarán Hinds, it’s the film critics call “an intelligent thriller with superb performances.” (USA Today)

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 174
  • Fresh: 133
  • Rotten: 41
  • Average Rating: 6.5/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Rotten: There is an awkward, irresoluble tension between the movie's urge to thrill and the weighty pull of the historical obligations that it seeks to assume. How much, to be blunt, should we be enjoying ourselves? – Anthony Lane, New Yorker, Sep 6, 2011

Fresh: The Debt has the overall air of an Oscar contender that never got into the ring -- well-made, but not spectacular. Still, it serves as a fine, full introduction to Chastain's potential. – Tom Long, Detroit News, Sep 1, 2011

Fresh: The moral dilemmas posed by events in the past impacting on the present are dealt with rather superficially, but THE DEBT is really solid entertainment. – Margaret Pomeranz, At the Movies (Australia), Nov 9, 2011

Fresh: A thriller with such powerful and emotive elements as The Debt towers above the everyday crime thriller, drawing on the cinematic oxygen of Nazi atrocities and their legacy – Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile, Nov 5, 2011

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews


From one look of the trailer, I could already tell that "The Debt" was gonna be a fantastic movie. It had a captivating premise, not to mention it was based on a well-received Israeli film. Plus, how could I possibly pass up the chance to see Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds, and Tom Wilkinson in the same feature together? So I decided to see the movie on opening day. Much to my satisfaction, it was much more than the contemporary spy thriller it presented itself to be. Rather, it was an intensely thrilling and thought-provoking film that masterfully achieved the genuine authenticity of its characters and the scenario they're put into. The deeply rich story is told through a series of flashbacks from the mind of Rachel Singer (Mirren), a former Mossad agent, who recounts the 1966 espionage mission she took with two other undercover spies in order to track down a psychotic Nazi war criminal. What results is a heart-pounding, suspense-filled game filled with twists and turns that forces truths to be revealed and wrongs to be undone. It all leads up to a climatic ending that's as surprising as it is satisfying. I really have to give it up for the younger actors in this movie, especially Jessica Chastain, who plays Rachel Singer in her early twenties. Her portrayal as our main heroine is so gratifyingly genuine and hauntingly emotional, it'll simply leave you in awe. She's definitely a rising actress to look out for in the near future. I should also commend Sam Worthington for proving that he actually does have the acting chops to star in flicks that aren't all big-budget blockbusters. Between the film's amazing performances, the dialogue was extremely well written and the beautiful score by Thomas Newman fit in perfectly with the intense tone of the story. In a nutshell, if you love a good dramatic thriller with great character development, unpredictable plot twists, and Oscar-worthy acting, trust me when I say "The Debt" is the perfect movie for you.

So dissapointing!

With Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson in the cast, it should have been so much better than it was. The whole story about people hunting Nazi's....they hunted one person the entire movie, which made it such a bore of a story. Also the fight scene with the 2 senior citizens was just such a laughable scene it was hard to take the movie seriously after that. Boring movie, the young people in it couldn't act, and story went to a hilarious anticlimactic scene. Don't waste your time!

sloppy and contrived

Anyone who thinks this is good film making is too obtuse or lazy to recognize its glaring flaws. The final "showdown" is a perfect illustration of how obvious and lazy the writers were. To not only give her the opportunity almost never realized in real life -- to re-do a mistake with 99% of the original conditions-- but to have it play out so similarly as to provide the kind of justification both the characters and the audience want is insulting and boring. And this is just the final blown opportunity for subtlety and adult writing in a film hemorrhaging with such fatuous and phony scenes. It's the kind of film made by people who have seen good films and tried to copy them-- but have failed due to a lack of intelligence and depth of character (I speak here of the film maker's character or soul for lack of a better word). I see this kind of thing all the time (e.g., Lars Van Trier); and I am saddened by it.

The Debt
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  • $14.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 2011

Customer Ratings