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Last updated: August 25. 2013 6:04AM - 21 Views

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By David AdamsThe story“You can't talk to him; we don't listen to him,” says Stephan (Martin Csokas) to fellow Israeli Mossad agents Rachel (Jessica Chastain) and David (Sam Worthington). It's 1965, East Berlin. Can they get Nazi death camp doctor Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen), whom they've kidnapped, out of Communist East Berlin and back to Israel to stand trial as the infamous “Surgeon of Birkenau”? That's one of the questions in this superior thriller. There are others, equally important, but I won't pose them here lest I spoil the intriguing plot of this excellent film.The actorsTwo sets of actors play the lead roles — Martin Csokas, Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington are Stephan, Rachel and David in 1965, on the mission in East Berlin. Tom Wilkinson, Helen Mirren and Ciaran Hinds play Stephan, Rachel and David 30 years later in Tel Aviv, 1997. Acting honors go to Chastain and Mirren, excellent as young and older Rachel, the film's central and most interesting character. (Chastain, also in “Tree of Life” and “The Help,” is having a very good year.) Worthington/Hinds and Csokas/Wilkinson are skillful as young and older David and Stephan, whose quarrelsome and competitive relationship the four actors convincingly play.Others in the cast include Jesper Christensen who, by underplaying Nazi doctor Vogel, heightens his character's creepiness. Brigitte Kren is nurse Frau Bernhardt and Morris Perry is Ukrainian investigative reporter Ivan Schevchuk. Romi Aboulafia plays Rachel's writer daughter Sarah. Other comments“The Debt” is a taut, edgy and intelligent thriller, well acted, full of psychological twists and turns. It's a love story, too. John Madden directs from Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan's script (Assaf Bernstein and Ido Rosenblum wrote the original 2007 Israeli film “Ha-Hov”). Filmed in the UK, Budapest and Tel Aviv, “The Debt” looks appropriately gritty. The story is gripping from the start, the tension never — well, hardly ever — lets up, and new questions arise — and are ultimately answered — as the plot unfolds. Keeping track of two sets of actors as the film cuts back and forth between 1965 and 1997 requires paying attention, as do the plot's other twists, but the payoff is satisfying adult entertainment. Central characters Rachel, Stephan and David reveal enough about themselves to make them interesting and, to varying degrees, characters we care about.“The Debt” is rated R for violence and language. It runs 114 minutes and is a well-crafted film in all respects. The best thriller since “Source Code.” Final words“The Debt” gets my vote —Taut and intelligent,Smart plot, script and castMake you glad you went.



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