Blu-ray Review: The Debt

The Debt Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: John Madden | CAST: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Wilkinson, Marton Csokas
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 12/6/2011 | PRICE: DVD $29.99, Blu-ray $34.98
BONUSES: featurettes, commentary, BD-Live, Pocket Blu app
SPECS: R | 114 min. | Thriller | 2.40:1 aspect ratio | DTS-HD audio | English, Spanish, French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The Debt

A remake of the 2007 foreign movie Ha-Hov, The Debt is a slowly smoldering potboiler that mixes romance, thriller elements and political drama.

The story is quite simple: Three Israeli agents kidnapped a former Nazi butcher in the 1960s, but in 1997, when a book is published about their exploits, they’re forced to face certain past mistakes that they have kept hidden.

The movie’s cast is exemplary. The agents are played by Jessica Chastain (The Help), Sam Worthington (Avatar) and Marton Csokas (Dream House) in the 1960s and Helen Mirren (Arthur), Ciaran Hinds (The Rite) and Tom Wilkinson (The Conspirator) in 1997, and the Nazi criminal is Jesper Christensen (The Young Victoria). The clear standout is Chastain, who delivers harsh emotions in a subtle performance. But the film also gives Worthington a chance to show he’s more than an action star.

The Debt isn’t a perfect film. We have to accept some of the character motivations even as we question them. But all in all, it’s an enjoyable two-hours that will leave viewers asking what they’d do in these agents’ situation.

And it looks and sounds great in the high-definition version on Blu-ray. The drab colors of the present contrast nicely with the more saturated 1960s scenes, and the sharp sounds of rain hitting tin bump up the creepiness in the kidnapping.

The special features on the Blu-ray are a hit and miss, though. The brief featurette “A Look Inside The Debt” is a definite miss. It’s more of a promotional piece for the film, and as you’re already looking at the movie, you’re already interested.

“The Berlin Affair: The Triangle at the Center of The Debt” is also quick and features interviews with all the stars, but it pretty much rehashes the story. Again, we watched the movie. Tell us something we don’t know.

“Every Secret Has a Price: Helen Mirren in The Debt” feels like a promotion for Mirren as an Oscar contender, with Tom Wilkinson and director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) gushing about the actress. But the 3-minute piece does have one saving grace, when Wilkinson tells us about a little history he has with Mirren.

The only other extra is a commentary with Madden and producer Kris Thykier (Kick-Ass), which is the most interesting of the pack. Madden does spend some time repeating what’s going on on-screen, but him and Thykier do also reveal behind-the-scenes secrets, such as shooting locations and things the actors did to prepare for their roles.

Buy or Rent The Debt
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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.