Welp, it's close to my bedtime, so no time to make a visual to go along with the review. As a loyal reader of this thing will know by now, any film worthy of Oscar gold usually deals with prejudice. My own personal prejudice, when it comes to the making of a movie, is about who is making the movie. Take Michael Bay, for example. Another example is the makers of the movie 'Kick-Ass.' Now, I liked Kick-Ass as much as the next fanboy pushing 40, but for some reason I don't trust those people to make a serious movie about the Mossad hunting a Nazi in hiding. To be fair, given the script and the actors involved, they did pretty good, and dare I say it, even half-ass nomination worthy. However, the story threads come untied as they attempt to hold two seemingly separate movies together into one cohesive whole.
Take the casting, for starters. Look at the actors involved here, one by one. We've got Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson, Marton Csokas and Ciaran Hinds. Two actors assigned to the same parts, separated by about 30 years or so. Now, you'd think the natural pairing would be Sam and Tom, and Marton and Ciaran, right? I mean... LOOK @ THEIR FACES!!! As it turns out, the parts are switched. Sam grows up to become Ciaran, mostly I think because he's the good guy in the story. Sorry, SPOILER ALERT. I mean, let's face it. Sam can't play a bad guy. He's come too far in too short a time; we'll leave Terminator 4 aside for the moment.
Okay, so that's the first major complaint out of the way, but I'm perfectly willing to grant that Oscar-nominated director John Madden does what he can to keep the film in Oscar territory, especially the first half of the story. I guess I might as well outline the story at this point. Basically, three Mossad agents go into Cold War-era East Germany to track down a notorious Nazi war criminal... I forget already; his nickname was the "Butcher of Birkenau" or something. In a film of this magnitude, you only go after the most notorious criminal, of course. And as much as I'd like to believe that the Mossad can be incompetent at times, even the first half of the story unravels a little bit in its own way.
I wouldn't dream of ruining the big twist in the story any more than I already have, mostly by pointing out that there is a twist... can I say that there's a... nah, I can't say that. Helen Mirren plays one of the three Mossad agents involved in this little Cold War caper. She's retired in the modern half of the story, and her daughter has just written a novel about her Cold War exploits, when suddenly... she has to come out of retirement for one last heist! Let's put it that way. Now, Dame Mirren is 66 years old at the time of this writing, but that's the affliction of this modern era. Just judging from our celebrities, the average age is indeed higher and it would appear that Social Security is indeed in jeopardy of running out due to the overpopulation of the aging Baby Boomers. People just can't afford to retire any more. Indiana Jones will be 70 in 2012! Newt Gingrich admitted openly to being a 68 year-old grandfather! Ron Paul's a 74 year old grandfather! ... I assume he's a grandfather; Rand's certainly not going to stop the family name from perpetuating! Joe Biden will be 74 when HE runs for president in 2016. But back to actors: Al Pacino's just over 70, DeNiro's almost at 70. Our greatest action hero movie stars are getting on in years: Liam Neeson's pushing 60, Nicolas Cage's almost 50, Tom Cruise is almost 50... I only mention this because I couldn't help but reflect on all of this when the culmination of The Debt is a bloody knife fight between a 65 year old woman and a ... 90-something year old man? It's not something you see every day, I'll give you that!
And so, in summation, I think a single star rating can hardly describe my viewing experience of The Debt. Let's just say it was a fully-inflated 4-star balloon when I started, then the air slowly started leaking out during the first half, then much faster for the second half, until it was a very nearly totally empty balloon by the end. I'll split the difference and call it 2.5 stars, what the hell. Gotta run!
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan