‘All the Old Knives’: Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton play hot spies revisiting a cold case

Tense thriller brings together the two highly photogenic stars in hunt for a CIA mole.

SHARE ‘All the Old Knives’: Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton play hot spies revisiting a cold case

A CIA operative (Chris Pine) is assigned to find the mole who aided hijackers eight years ago in “All the Old Knives.”

Amazon Studios

“You’ve convinced me.”

“Of what?”

“That you’re very convincing.” – Exchange between two spies in “All the Old Knives.”

For much of the tense and well-crafted espionage thriller “All the Old Knives,” it’s just two people seated at a table in a sparsely populated upscale restaurant in idyllic Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, catching up on old times, remembering how they once loved one another—and engaging in a verbal game of chess, with each trying to anticipate the other’s next move while plotting a strategy of their own.

Chris Pine’s Henry Pelham is a veteran CIA operative who has been tasked with investigating whether a mole within the operation is responsible for a shocking tragedy some eight years ago, when a terrorist organization hijacked a Turkish airliner and killed more than 100 people on board. Thandiwe Newton is Celia Harrison, who is now living a safe and comfortable life with a wealthy husband and two young children she adores — but back in the day, she was Henry’s teammate in Vienna and also his lover, until she suddenly left Henry one morning without explanation.

‘All the Old Knives’


Amazon Studios presents a film directed by Janus Metz and written by Olen Steinhauer. Rated R (for sexuality/nudity, violence and language). Running time: 101 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters and on Prime Video.

Henry and Celia order wine, then have a meal, then order some more wine. You can tell by the looks they give one another that there’s still love between them — and a whole lot of unanswered questions.

We alternate between present-day Carmel and Vienna in the past and meet some of the other major players from that time, including Jonathan Pryce’s Bill Compton, a senior agent who was like a father to Celia; David Dawson’s Owen Lassiter, who ran a team of codebreakers and analysts before he committed suicide, and Laurence Fishburne’s Vick Wallinger, head of the bureau in Vienna. And we see the controlled chaos taking place within the organization after Flight 127 has been hijacked, with Henry working his extensive network of sources to learn as much as he can, Celia taking a clandestine meeting with murky motives, and Bill Compton suddenly up and leaving the office, claiming an emergency at home.

Eight years later, the CIA has learned someone within the organization had been feeding information to the terrorists on that plane, giving them the upper hand and nullifying any chance at a rescue mission—and Henry has been assigned to the newly reopened case.

Everyone’s a suspect, in Henry’s eyes. Maybe even Celia, though he keeps telling her this is just a formality, an effort to see if Celia can remember anything that will lead him to the true culprit. And all the while, we’re along for the piecing together of this puzzle, jumping to conclusions of our own as we try to decipher the mystery along with Henry.


Thandiwe Newton plays one of the agents involved in the hijack response.

Amazon Studios

Based on the novel of the same name by Olen Steinhauer and directed with style and skill by the Danish filmmaker Janus Metz, “All the Old Knives” feels like a small-scale version of a John Le Carré adaptation, with the obligatory Spy Movie Score as perfect accompaniment to the tension-building sequences in the restaurant and the cloak-and-dagger stuff in Vienna. Pine and Newton are extremely photogenic stars and they look fantastic in that beautifully lit restaurant, but they’re also doing fine work playing two people who were once in love and probably still are in love, and realize their time together can never be recaptured. The past is coming back to haunt them in more ways than one.

The Latest
The man, 23, was sitting in his car about 2:15 a.m. Saturday when shots were fired, striking him multiple times.
The man, 32, was inside an apartment when someone he knew began firing shots about 4 a.m. Saturday.
The man had been seen waving guns and yelling racist threats from atop a building in the 4100 block of West Chicago Avenue.
Vegas is the talk of the town after earning its second Cup Final berth in the franchise’s brief history.
The Fire are proud of their U.S. Open Cup pedigree, but as they look ahead to a Tuesday quarterfinal, the franchise is trying to reverse a recent slide in the competition.