The Debt (2011) ***

The DebtThe Debt is an uneven film. It has some gripping scenes, twists, and an edge a good thriller should have. The story intercuts between the past (Nazis, Soviets, Mossad and then some) and the present. Yet all in all, despite terrific acting and good direction, it all feels like amiss. The pacing seems to be off; the sub-plot of a love triangle overburdens a story that is already emotionally loaded, and the ending is not satisfying. Furthermore, by focusing too much attention on the deceit the Israeli agents had to live with, the film unintentionally rewards the Nazi character with space to virtually escape his past. Parts I liked about the film include the realistic approach to the 1960’s undercover operation: no high-tech gizmos and happy accidents; life in the frontline is anything but a James Bond depiction… I also appreciated the characters, which, for the most part, felt real, including their conflicts and pain. Yet, ultimately, the film tries to bring about a conclusion that leaves emptiness; neither revenge, nor justice. As Rachel, the lead character, states – we cannot go back in time; the plot’s resolution could have focused on that theme rather than try to add one final aimless twist.