All the Old Knives, a spy thriller starring Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton, is now available on Amazon Prime Video. The film, relying on the novel of the same name, follows Henry Pelham (Pine) as he attempts to determine which CIA mole may have leaked information that resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people.
Things start to fall apart when he is tasked with questioning his former lover and colleague Celia Harrison (Newton). There will be All the Old Knives spoilers as we analyze what happened!
The plot of the film is divided into two timelines. The first timeline depicts the events surrounding the hijacking of Flight 127 in Austria, as seen through the eyes of our cast of characters at the time. The second takes place eight years later when Henry is tasked by Vick (Laurence Fishburne) with uncovering the mole, and he speaks with two other people: Celia and Bill (Jonathan Pryce).
We begin in both timelines almost simultaneously, with the CIA field office in Vienna receiving word that every hostage on Flight 127 has been killed. Celia flees the office, Henry pursuing her and calling her name.
Eight years later, Henry locates Celia – now married with children – in California and they agree to meet, at which point, Henry reveals that they discovered a mole at the time and it’s his job to find a said mole. Celia, understandably, assumes Henry believes she is a suspect, and the ‘interrogation’ begins with Henry asking Celia to recount everything that happened eight years ago.
Celia’s narration transports us to the past, introducing the audience to the rest of the team. That’s Jonjo O’Neill as Ernst Pul, Ahd as fellow agent Leila Maloof, and David Dawson as tech specialist Owen Lassiter.
Bill is her boss and a sort of father figure, with Vick at the helm, liaising directly with the US government, and, of course, there’s Henry, whose previous work in Moscow, in which the Russians killed not just a group of terrorists but also civilians, still haunts him.
The plane was hijacked shortly after landing in Vienna, which the team believes was done to force Germany to release its own prisoners. While attempting to gather more information, a message arrives from an asset who happens to be a passenger on the plane, providing details: they can attack through the aircraft’s undercarriage.
No one is able to obtain any information about the hijackers. Celia departs to contact a source, who leads her to a man who claims to have information but does not appear to have anything of value. In the ‘present-day,’ Henry also pays a visit to Bill, threatening him with revealing the identity of the mole, Celia.
Henry admits that he is aware of the situation. Celia examined the phone logs and noticed that a Vienna field office extension was calling numbers with Iranian extensions, where the hijackers were from – and the extension was for Bill’s office phone. Bill denies any involvement but refuses to identify Celia.
Celia claims she didn’t tell anyone about her phone number suspicions at the restaurant, but she was later approached by a man named Karl (Corey Johnson), who told her for a fact Bill had been trading intelligence to the highest bidder, which Celia claims left her distraught. Back in time, they receive another message from their onboard asset, who now informs them that the hijackers do, in fact, have a camera on the undercarriage, and he orders them to abort their mission.
Celia, on the other hand, notices differences in their asset’s messages: his first two are in short sentences with contractions, whereas his third uses longer sentences with no contractions, leading her to believe that the third message came from the hijacker. Her suspicions are confirmed later when the plane door opens and their asset is shot in the head and dumped on the tarmac.
The group soon discovers that one of the men involved is Ilyas Shushani (Orli Shuka), a former asset of Henry’s who Henry was forced to sell out to the Russians in exchange for information about a possible attack on the US from the Russians. It was this exchange that resulted in the deaths of civilians in Moscow and, later, Ilyas’ daughter and wife. Henry, on the other hand, does not believe Ilyas will become radicalized.
In the restaurant, their server spills some wine and appears distraught before being replaced. When Henry inquires about their original server, their new one responds that she is fine, just having a bout of sickness due to her pregnancy and that he will be taking care of them. Henry appears to accept the explanation, but after drinking his wine, he becomes ill.
He goes to the bathroom and is approached by Treble (Michael Shaeffer), a contractor who says he’s there at Henry’s request to take Celia out. Henry returns to the table and confronts Celia more forcefully, explaining that the one thing he never understood was why, after their asset was killed, she came over, they had sex, and then she vanished from his life entirely.
Celia reveals that after their asset was killed, she returned to Henry’s house, where she heard his phone vibrate and saw that an Iranian phone number was calling. She put the puzzle pieces together and realized it was Henry who had given up their asset. When everyone on the plane was killed, she tried to justify it and decided to make as clean a break as she could. Henry is still feeling woozy and has a nosebleed.
Afterwards, we see Celia, in a flashback to a time not so long ago, being approached by Karl once more, but this time he directs her to set up an ambush for Henry at a restaurant where they have prepared everything – including the staff and other customers. She promises to do so if, afterwards, they leave her and her family alone for the foreseeable future.
She returns to the restaurant and informs Henry that they are planning to make his death appear to be a suicide. She then questions Henry as to why he betrayed them. Henry confesses that he did it for Celia’s sake.
Once more into the past, while Celia is out meeting with a contact, Henry goes to the site that his contact had texted him and there he meets Ilyas, whom he comforts. When Celia and Henry meet, Ilyas discloses that he has engineered the meeting and that if Henry doesn’t provide him with some information, he would have her killed, saying that this is payback for Henry giving himself up to the authorities. He and his family fled to Iran after being tortured by the Russians, where his daughter died as a result of their inability to obtain medicine for her due to US economic sanctions.
The plot to assault the plane from the undercarriage is revealed by Henry, who is distraught, sparing Celia’s life by revealing both the plan and the identity of their asset aboard the plane. Suddenly, a dying Henry appears at the table and requests that Celia leave the restaurant, to which she reluctantly agrees to.
Treble dials Henry’s phone number to seek permission to murder her – but Henry dies before he can give the order. Vick, who is currently clearing out Henry’s flat, gets a phone call from Bill, who informs him that their objective has been achieved. Celia returns home and, based on our assumptions, lives happily ever after.
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Is All The Old Knives A Sequel To Knives Out?
Unfortunately, no. Despite the fact that All the Old Knives is not related to Knives Out, it does contain a mystery. Despite the fact that it is a mediocre mystery, it is performed in a self-serious, ponderous manner, with a bland look that does it no favours.