½*/**** Image A Sound A Extras D+
starring Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Tom Wilkinson
screenplay by Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan, based on the Israeli film Ha-Hov
directed by John Madden
by Walter Chaw End-of-year prestige porn so poor in its conception that it was released at the ass-end of summer, former Miramax darling John Madden's The Debt enters into the Holocaust Remembrance sweepstakes and, in the process, demonstrates that probably nothing could slow Jessica Chastain's rising star. Sure enough, she's all that's remotely worthwhile (well, her and Jesper Christensen as the best Nazi doctor since Olivier) in a film that also parades people like Tom Wilkinson and Dame Helen Mirren in embarrassing, compromised aspects. Despsite a couple of elderly "twists," the only thing really surprising about this tale of a Mossad operation gone pear-shaped is that Mirren's hack husband Taylor Hackford didn't direct it--knowing that if he had, at least the action scenes in it, for what they're worth, would've been a good deal tighter. Oh, what a state we're in when we find ourselves wishing that Taylor Hackford had directed something instead of someone else.