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Wick's Review

Created Sep 11, 2011 12:43PM PST • Edited May 01, 2019 11:27PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    A mashup of Israel’s bravura capture of Adolph Eichmann and the moral confusion of Munich, The Debt pays off almost completely, missing perfection by ceding reality. Well that and because the Mossad agents’ reluctance to kill the fictional Surgeon of Birkenau annoys as much as it galvanizes.

    An outstanding film nonetheless, presented mostly in closeups, The Debt features six great stars, each precise with his or her full complement of facial features – eyes, mouths, noses. As it happens, they are six Gentiles playing three Jews. Ah Hollywood, always eager to feel emancipated.

    Don’t worry. Be happy. The Holocaust is apparently far enough in the past that it’s now entertainment as much as sacred remembrance. Perhaps that’s a sign of health.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Six terrific movie-stars play the Jewish agents, and there’s not a Semite amongst them. Dame Helen Mirren claims the possibility of partial Jewish linage, but that’s barely chopped liver. The others are Irish, British, Australian, Kiwi and American. And I don’t mean Jewish-American. Jessica Chastain ain’t never been to a BBYO convention. Just saying…

    Dame Helen and Miss Jessica play Rachel Singer, an astoundingly brave Israeli agent. Chastain infuses the younger Rachel with a believable inner strength, while Mirren infuses the elder Rachel with severe cognitive dissonance triggered by profound regret. Their two visages define the movie.

    Tom Wilkinson and Marton Csokas play her fellow agent and lover. Wilkinson is the weakest of the six, while Csokas brings a distinctive presence to his role of virile young Mossad leader.

    CiarĂ¡n Hinds and Sam Worthington play the third member of the team cum love triangle. The great Hinds brings his trademark gravitas to the elder man, haunted by a mission gone bad, while Worthington seems actually to be acting, unlike so many roles where he coasts by on his looks.

  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Really Great 4.5

    The film artfully cuts back-and-forth between the mission in the Sixties and the reckoning in the Nineties. Story details get revealed as the layers are discontinuously pulled back. Bravo.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0

    John Madden isn’t especially prolific as great directors go. Fortunately he chose to remake the Israeli Ha-Hov, creating The Debt. (Excellent poster for Ha-Hov)

    Madden seems to be in a fecund period, with The Debt following only a few years after the very good Killshot. That came a full decade after Shakespeare in Love, his greatest movie. Fortunately he’s got another picture teed up for later this year.

  10. Play Great 4.0

    An impressive reality mashup from dynamic duo screenwriters Mathew Vaughn and Jane Goldman. First they write Kick-Ass, then X-Men: First Class, and now they adapt Ha-Hov into The Debt. Impressive.

    BTW, The Debt in Israel is what post-Holocaust generations owe the Six Million and the Survivors.

  11. Music Really Great 4.5

    Terrific piano playing.

  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.2

    Edgy as hell, albeit a mere 2.2 on the Sex-Violence-Rudeness scale. Great movie-making, that.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.5
  16. Violence Brutal 2.6
  17. Rudeness Profane 2.6
  18. Glib 1.5

    Only Jews would castigate ourselves for being slow to kill a sadistic, insufferable, sycophantic murderer. Off him. Better for everybody and entirely just.

    Finally, capturing Eichmann and secreting him to Israel seems even more amazing given this alternative vision. Fortunately the real mission succeeded, even if the fictional one goes wildly awry.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.7
  20. Biological Glib 1.5
  21. Physical Glib 1.3


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Sep 4, 2011 6:06PM

Regarding BrianSez’s Review
Sounds terrific Bri. Planning on seeing it tonight.