This American remake of the 2007 Israeli drama-thriller HaHov
concerns the fraught world of Nazi hunting in the years following World War II. The Debt
is set in 1997, when three retired Mossad agents—Rachel Singer (Helen Mirren), ex-hubby Stephan (Tom Wilkinson) and David (Ciarán Hinds) must confront the truth behind their incursion inside East Berlin 30 years earlier. Their mission was to locate and apprehend a former Nazi named Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen), whose moniker "the Surgeon of Birkenau" clearly models him on Josef Mengele. Unfortunately, the screenwriting team of Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman (Stardust
and X-Men: First Class
) fails to pivot The Debt
from its sheer suspense elements into a film possessing any discernable political, cultural or emotional nuance. It culminates with a journey to Ukraine by Mirren's Rachel and a finale more befitting one of Brian De Palma's campy climaxes.