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Rated 3.05 stars
by 273 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
The Root of All Evil
by Betty Jo Tucker

Into its web, The Debt drew me.

But with Stephen Dorff, thatís easy.

His acting always seems so real.  

And I believe heís the real deal.


The man he plays in this story

finds himself in a quandary.

He has to close a big land sale

with dire effects if he should fail.


That land is found deep in Peru.

Why so dear, we wish we knew.     

The answer comes as a surprise,

revealing betrayal as well as lies.      


Compassion for the folks concerned

is something that our hero learned.

Will he survive and do his best

or stand aside and fail the test?

The Debt, an international finance mystery, takes place in New York City and Peru. Although focusing primarily on Oliver Campbell (Stephen Dorff) and his struggle to complete a land deal in Peru, the film includes other intriguing individuals faced with the dilemma of how far they should go to get what they want. For example, thereís Maria Ruiz (the impressive Elsa Olivero), a worried daughter trying to obtain appropriate medical care for her ailing elderly mother, and a courageous young Peruvian boy (Marco Antonio Ramirez, so wonderful here) going the extra mile to find his fatherís missing llama. I admire writer/director Barney Elliott (True Colors short) for the clever way he connects these diverse characters -- and more -- in such a seamless way. I think thatís why this motion picture reminds me of Crash, one of my favorite films. 

Dorff never looked better than in the New York scenes here. Heís slick and spiffy in Oliverís expensive suits and haircut. By the time the movie ends, his appearance and attitude have changed completely. This is an excellent role for the talented actor, who convinces us of Oliverís transformation. And Alberto Ammann (Cell 211) delivers a sensitive performance as Oliverís concerned friend.

David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) also deserves special recognition for his excellent turn as Oliverís serious boss. From the moment we see this character, we canít help being suspicious of his motivation. But thatís getting too close to a spoiler, so I will say no more.  

Cinematography by Bjorn Stale Bratberg (Rafiki) creates a marvelous sense of place with shots of the vast Peruvian landscape. Itís a nice contrast to the New York sequences.

If youíre looking for a timely contemporary mystery with top-notch performances, The Debt should be a good choice for you.

(Released by Level 33 Entertainment; not rated by MPAA.)

For more information about The Debt, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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