The Debt

I’ve read a lot of books and watched many movies based on Nazis, Nazi plots, Nazi camps & the capture of Nazis. The Debt is one of the best that I have seen. The American version is based on the 2007 Israeli movie of the same name and stars Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Ciarán Hinds, Tom Wilkinson, Marton Csokas and Jesper Christensen.  Although not a money making movie (however I will always wonder why) this is one movie that I like a lot and will hold in high regard for many years.

The movie is about the 3 member Israeli-Mossad team who were sent to Germany to capture Nazi war criminal Dr. Dieter Vogel, known as “The Surgeon of Birkenau” for his horrific pseudo-medical experiments on Jews during World War II, and bring him to Israel for justice. The movie shifts between the events of the assignment which was in 1965 and then 32 years later when the now older trio must face their worst fear.

Mossad agents Rachel, David & Stefan travel to East Berlin, separately under alias and as ethnic Germans from Argentina. Rachel is the last to arrive and is greeted by David who brings her to the apartment which will serve as their temporary home and headquarters while on this mission. They have identified a middle aged gynecologist who they believe, rightly, to be Vogel under a false name. Rachel & David are pretending to be a married couple who are eager to be parents and Rachel goes to the doctor as a patient. You get the feeling that Vogel doesn’t trust her or perhaps anyone as he asks her about her life while he examines her. On the 3rd visit pretty, sweet & petite Rachel confronts Vogel on being the Nazi criminal and takes him down, injecting him with a sedative. She tells the nurse, also Vogel’s wife, that he collapsed perhaps of an attack and calls the hospital. David & Stefan dressed as ambulance crew take Vogel away, while Rachel comforts the nurse and leaves.

They attempt to smuggle him onto a train but Vogel who awakens alerts the guards by honking the horn. The trio escape detection by the guards but must now bring Vogel to their apartment and hide him there. The three of them take turns attending to Vogel, having to shave & feed him. Even while tied up Vogel taunts & intimidates both David & Rachel, with the former even breaking a plate on Vogel’s head. Vogel manages to get his hands on a sharp shard of the broken plate and uses that to cut his binds at night when only Rachel is in the apartment and ambushes her, cutting her on the face. He escapes into the night before Rachel can recover and bring himm back. Distraught and unable to face the shame on going back home with a failed assignment, Stefan convinces the other two that they should lie and say that Rachel shot Vogel dead while he was escaping and that the three of them had to dispose of the body. They go back to Israel and are treated as returning heroes.

The side story is of both David & Stefan falling for Rachel and she liking David but he is unable to completely accept what they have done. Rachel instead marries Stefan and has a daughter while David leaves Mossad and Israel. Later Stefan distances himself from Rachel as punishment for not loving him and they later become estranged. In 1997 Rachel’s daughter Sarah is honouring the three of them in a book she wrote about their assignment, while Stefan has government agents go to collect David who has come back to Israel. David commits suicide when he sees Stefan, by jumping in front of a vehicle. Rachel is devastated and confesses to Stefan that she had met up with David the previous evening. Stefan shows her an account of an old, inmate in a Ukrainian asylum who claims to be Vogel and who is to be visited by a prominent journalist for an interview to verify his claims. David had been investigating at Stefan’s request and, according to Stefan, killed himself out of fear that the lie would be exposed.

As Stefan is wheelchair ridden, Rachel agrees to travel to Kiev and find out if the old inmate is indeed Vogel and if so kill him. She tracks the journalist and sneaks into his office to find the address & room number. Rachel finds out that the inmate that the journalist is about to interview is a deranged old man and she leaves a note for the journalist informing him of what actually happened during their mission, wanting the truth to come out. repares to leave, but suddenly spots Vogel among the patients and follows him to an isolated area of the hospital. After a short confrontation in which Vogel stabs her with scissors, Rachel kills Vogel by plunging a poisoned syringe into his back. Meanwhile, Rachel’s note is discovered and read by the journalist. It describes the truth of the mission, ready to be relayed to the world.

Amazingly acted although I agree that Worthington looks out of sorts in his role as David. Chilling performance by Jesper Christensen & the beautiful Jessica Chastain and Helen Mirren is class as always. I liked it a lot. 9 out of 10!

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