The Debt takes as its center-piece a fictional 1960’s era attempt by a trio of loyal Israelis to kidnap a hideously unrepentant Nazi war criminal out of East Germany and spirit him back to Jerusalem for trial. The attempt goes awry, and the three are forced into a series of course-changes and compromises that effectively up-end their collective futures.
But does The Debt work as a movie? Well yes, but also no. The movie is at its best in grimy sixties Berlin (of course, Budapest is the convenient stand-in) when Rachel, played with guts by it-girl Jessica Chastain, begins the operation in a series of extremely vulnerable positions. The botched kidnap and the final confrontation in a Ukrainian hospital are truly exciting. But generally I felt it hopped between the two time periods too clumsily and I came away feeling I’d been watching “Munich-lite.”