THE DEBT (2011)

TMG Scale 4.0    P Factor 0.0   MPAA rating R – should be PG-13,  why R?
Starring Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain,  Tom Wilkinson, Marton Csokas, Ciaran Hinds, Sam Worthington, Jesper Christensen

I can hear it now, “You can’t criticize a movie about the Holocaust.” ” If a movie is about the killing of innocent Jews, it has to be a masterpiece.” “If a film is about Nazi hunters, you have to give it a high rating.” [I hear the same thing about any movie with an overtly gay theme.]  Actually, no it doesn’t, and this film proves it.  Even if you buy into the  hocus pocus stupid story, this film does no tribute or justice to Jews who suffered under the Nazis. Actually,  if you do buy into this story, you are left wondering how many other Jews lied or puffed their stories just to sound good. And, that cannot be a good thing. The fact is Hitler and the Nazis were so horrendous,  who needs to hype any story? And, oh yeah, this movie was fairly boring.

One of the worst things about this film was that it flashed back and forth so much I was flash shocked. Rachel Singer and two fellow Nazi hunters, David and Stephan set out to capture Dr. Dieter Vogel—the “infamous surgeon of Birkenau.”  Their secret agent mission is to capture him alive from East Berlin (1964) and return him to Israel for trial.  The trouble with this movie is that the entire story from beginning to end is made up. So is the history.  There was no Dr. Dieter Vogel. The story is loosely based upon  the real-life Dr. Josef Mengele who allegedly did surgery for the purpose of torturing the prisoners at Birkenau. Why do even care about this story? It’s not real history.

It gets worse.  Young Rachel (Chastain) grows up and thirty years later the older Rachel (Mirren) has a daughter who writes a book about how her mother captured and shot Dr.Vogel. It is mostly all a big lie as Vogel actually escaped and is now living in a psychiatric hospital. Rachel, David and Stephen have struggled their whole lives with the “real truth.”  The problem is no one cares  if it was the truth or a big lie but them.  The fact is they should have just killed this scumbag when they had the chance but they didn’t. Instead they engaged in an exotic scheme to take him back to Israel for some big show trial. They failed. No one cares,  not them, not the audience and not history.  This is why the U.S. sent in Navy Seals to execute Osama Bin Laden. When you are that guilty, the best thing is to just kill a war criminal. Capturing Nazi war criminals alive just to put them on show trial and then execute them is just an excercise in nonsense.

The movie does raise a compelling question. Does all history need to be set straight?  Is everyone entitled to know “the truth?” Let me think about that for 1.3 seconds. The answer is an unequivocal “No.” If some obscure Nazi devil was killed in war, killed by some revenge seekers or dies 40 years later drooling in a wet adult diaper  in some obscure hospital, who cares?  Everytime I hear some estranged wife of a politician, some hooker to a famous actor, or some dictators ex-mistress declare that “people need to know the truth” I nearly puke. No, no we don’t. And, in most cases, we don’t even care what the truth is.

I don’t really care to know the real story behind Barry Bonds [of course he took steroids] or O.J. Simpson [of course he is a murderer] or what Pete Rose bet on, does it really matter? In 2011, Nazi war criminals are history.  In 1964, Nazi war criminals that were left alive should have been hunted down and killed.

Some good acting intervened. I cringed quite a bit. I was bored. I learned nothing. The End.

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