Review: All The Old Knives


A compelling slow-burn spy drama, All the Old Knives doesn’t reinvent the genre, but terrific performances from Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton deliver the intrigue as the intelligent story methodically unfolds.

Tasked with finding the mole within the CIA who shared information that led to a botched operation and mass casualties, Henry Pelham (Pine) tracks down ex-colleague and ex-lover Celia Harrison (Newton) to question her knowledge and motives leading to emotional revelations between the two. Based on the book of the same name, All the Old Knives’ screenplay was written by author Olen Steinhauer, a smart move that certainly aids in the jump from page to screen. Each plot turn is executed with stylistic precision that never overcomplicates the mystery, allowing for natural revelations as the story progresses. Pine and Newton have incredible chemistry, much of the film quarterbacked by their increasingly intense back and forth. It all allows for the emotional investment of the viewer to naturally build, admittedly unexpectedly, culminating in the final scenes. Add in the supporting cast, specifically Laurence Fishburne’s solid performance, and you have a really tight crew.

Those looking for an action drama are not going to find it here; the film is fully a drama that keeps you on your feet the entire way. Director Janus Metz plays with the placement of flashbacks and time in ways that throw you off the trail of what seems to be a predictable outcome, but turns into something more. All the Old Knives is visually simplistic, but appropriate; we don’t journey to too many places, but each is fitting for the story. It all results in what I would argue is one of the most surprising films of the year thus far and one of Pine’s best films.

All the Old Knives hits limited theaters and Prime Video tomorrow.

Rating: 4/5

Photo from Amazon

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