The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal - 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 114 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Jesper Christensen, Marton Csokas, Ciaran Hinds
Directed by: John Madden
Music by: Thomas Newman
Written by: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Peter Straughan
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 6, 2011
"The truth never dies"
Academy Award® winner Helen Mirren and two-time Academy Award® nominee Tom Wilkinson star in The Debt. In 1966, three Mossad agents were assigned to track down a feared Nazi war criminal hiding in East Berlin, a mission accomplished at great risk and personal cost or was it? Thirty years later, the suspense builds as shocking news and surprising revelations compel retired team member Rachel Singer (Mirren) to take matters into her own hands.
The Debt revolves around Rachel, David and Stephan, three Israeli Mossad agents that are assigned the arduous task of capturing a Nazi war criminal in the mid nineteen sixties. Hailed as heroes upon their return the storyline moves back and forth, between then and thirty years later which finds each of them still dealing with the repercussions of that assignment. The time shifts backward reveal the complexity of developing interpersonal relationships between them, the danger of their assigned task and its outcome which holds a secret that locks the trio in a 30 year long alliance. In the present events unfold that require them to revisit that alliance or suffer the consequences.
The Debt is the kind of film that is right up my alley. It's an intelligently crafted espionage piece with a mystery/thriller edge to coincide with low level elements of drama/action/suspense. This isn't a run of the mill spy flick that relies on the allure of action or turning a blind eye to an overly campy plot. At its heart The Debt is a character driven film based on a historically poignant narrative that is seemingly superficial but ultimately reaches deeper. There is drama that fluctuates between issues of morality, regret, and obligation but it doesn't displace the richness of the context which remains focused on the mystery/suspense associated with what happened then and how it must be dealt with now. The first two acts of the film are quite compelling and feature a solid mix of action, rewarding interplay and intrigue. The finale doesn't live up to the remainder of the film and devolves into a disappointing finish that left me wanting. I thoroughly enjoyed the performances by the talented cast. Helen Mirren is a personal favorite and having recently seen Jessica Chastain in The Tree of life, this film, and The help (review forthcoming) I must admit that she has made an impression. Weak ending or not The Debt has more than enough steam to make for an entertaining spy thriller that is well worth its 114 minute runtime.
The rating is for violence, language and a scene of sensuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Debt comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.1 Mbps.
This video presentation has a filmic quality that doesn't always lend itself to razor sharp images however resolution is excellent as both people and objects are rendered with clear definition that at times is meticulously resolved. The color palette isn't a diverse one and sticks mainly to tamped down secondary hues with splashes of primary colors that render a cooler overall aesthetic. Flesh tones are on the bland side but fit right in with the visual style of the video. Contrast is bold which adds dynamic emphasis to sequences containing bright elements. Blacks are nice and deep which provides plenty of pop when onscreen with mixed content. Scenes containing uneven and/or dim lighting reveal discernible detail in shadowy backgrounds and darkened areas. Grain is visibly moderate and appears to be well preserved.
This is primarily a dialogue driven film however there are elements that require use of the entire system so its ability to clearly render them is essential. Dialogue is reproduced with transparent realism and lucid texture as it is appropriately balanced within the front soundstage. The surround mix utilizes the entire platform to deliver the action based sequences as well as to recreate the acoustic sounds associated with the environments portrayed onscreen. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience/musical extension as well as directional panning cues that effectively integrate with the front soundstage. This is an enriching audio presentation that mates well with the source material.
- Feature commentary with director John Madden and producer Kris Thykier
- (HD) A look inside The Debt - 3 minute featurette
- (HD) Every secret has a price: Helen Mirren in The Debt - 3 minute featurette
- (HD) The Berlin affair: The triangle at the center of The Debt - 2 minute featurette
- My scenes bookmark feature
- pocket BLU
- BD-Live enabled
The Debt is an intelligently crafted espionage/mystery/thriller piece that at its heart is a character driven film that features rewarding elements of drama/action/suspense. The finale doesn't quite live up to the first two acts but it doesn't spoil an otherwise entertaining and fresh feeling genre entry that fans should enjoy. It makes its way onto Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video quality and a light supplemental package that left me wanting. The Debt on Blu-ray is worth checking out so drop it in your rental queue and take it for a spin.
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