After a battering from the critics, the Australian actor is winning plaudits again.
5 Sep 2011 - 1:11 PM  UPDATED 11 Nov 2020 - 10:27 AM

IfSam Worthington bothers to read reviews, he won't have enjoyed the critical mauling for his all efforts since the record-breaking blockbuster Avatar.

According to the world's critics polled by Rotten Tomatoes, Clash of the Titans had an approval rating of just 28 per cent, Last Night was on the wrong side of the ledger with 48 per cent and Terminator Salvation scored a lowly 33 per cent.

But Sam might be reading reviews again as his latest film, The Debt, registered a very healthy 77 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and delivered some of the most glowing notices of the Australian actor's chequered career.

Read SBS FIlm review of The Debt here

In the thriller directed by John Madden based on the 2007 Israeli film Ha-Hov, Worthington and Jessica Chastain star as Mossad agents who in the 1960s are assigned the task of hunting down a Nazi war criminal. Thirty years later their characters played by Ciarán Hinds and Helen Mirren are forced to deal with the repercussions of the success of their mission.

Produced by Miramax in 2009, the movie was due to be released last December but went into limbo after Disney shut down the specialty division until Focus Features stepped in as the US distributor, with Universal Pictures International handling the rights in the rest of the world.

The Debt opened in the US on August 31, fetching an estimated $14 million in six days, ranked second on a slow weekend behind The Help, which retained top spot in its fourth frame.

Typifying the mostly rave reviews, the Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey hailed it as a “superbly crafted espionage thriller packed with Israeli-Nazi score settling” and declared “Worthington embodies the tightly wound repression, righteousness and regret that will drive David.”

Time magazine's Richard Corliss opined, “At the end of a summer in which anything like reality was banned from movie houses this gnarly political thriller has a tonic effect. It's a wakeup face slap for a medium that has spent too many warm-weather nights dreaming of superheroes and frat boys.”

Evidently not a big fan of Sam's previous endeavours, The Wrap's Leah Rozen said, “Worthington shows a greater range and vulnerability here than he did in either Avatar or Clash of the Titans, where he mostly just flexed his pecs. He may be a genuine movie star yet.”

Worthington seems philosophical about the bagging he's received from critics during his career, telling, “Look, every movie I do, the pressures get more, not only from the media but the bloggers, from the studios, primarily now though it's getting more from myself, because I'm pushing myself more. Some of that, I know I learned from Jim [Cameron], which was all of the kind of criticism in the world isn't going to be as strong as the criticism you have for yourself. And the only reason to be doing this job is to keep pushing and pushing yourself.”

The movie opens in Australia on October 27. Meanwhile, the actor is looking forward to working in the Australian surfing action-drama Drift filmed in Western Australia, telling “I play a surf photographer. I don't actually get on a board. I said, 'You're not paying me enough to show the world what I can do,' and they laughed and thought I was an idiot. That's going to be a lot of fun. Where we're going, the waves are huge. They're big. They're the second or third biggest on the planet.”



Watch 'The Debt'

Saturday 21 November, 10:45pm on SBS World Movies

NOTE: No catch-up at SBS On Demand

UK, 2010
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Language: English
Director: John Madden
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciarán Hinds

The Debt Review
Hollywood remake preserves intimacy of Israeli original.

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