All the Old Knives: slow-burn espionage thriller blessed with a compelling chemistry
What: All the Old Knives review – a slow-burn espionage thriller blessed with a compelling chemistry between Chris Pine and Thandie Newton.
All the Old Knives review
Based on the novel of the same name, All the Old Knives is not your regular spy thriller where you get grand events and terrifying consequences, rather it is driven by a discussion-intensive narrative interspersed with flashbacks and the effect that intelligence work has on relationships.
With an disarming and quiet start that covers the ravishing aerial visuals of an island and the protagonist enjoying a ride along sea-side, the story is set in the idyllic town of Carmel-by-the-sea, where a CIA spy and one ex-CIA spy meet for dinner and to reminisce and relive the painful memories of the disastrous hijacking of the Royal Jordanian Flight 127, which had claimed the lives of all the persons on board, a failure that haunts the CIA's Vienna station to this day. But the striking question is whether Henry(Chris Pine) has come to meet Celia (Thandie Newton) to rekindle the old romance or delve deeper into the conspiracy.
Their conversations trace back to the events that transpired six years back and the director Janus Metz( Borg Vs McEnroe,2017) uses the flashbacks to peel off the layers of their raging relationship, revealing moral dilemmas and betrayals.
There are few writers who transform the mundane into such possibility and Steinhauer is such a rare talent. His masterful and expertly devised plot induces intrigue by marrying espionage with romance that unfolds like a dinner table conversation.
The mystery here works with the precision of Agatha Christie's novels - there is more to the whodunit and why dunnit that is underlined by the moral and emotional weight.
My only grumble was its snail-paced execution that might wean away the interest of many. Charlotte Bruus Christensen's camerawork is glossy and adds charm to the vintage deception that drives Steinhauer's intricate screenplay.
All the Old Knives is also blessed with a compelling screen chemistry between Pine and Newton who infuse a lot of credibility into their nuanced characters. Pine is restrained and brooding, with a striking sense of guilt enshrouding his CIA operative. Newton imbues the emotionally devastated Celia with poignancy.
Together, they turn up the heat in both steamy and passionate investments and riveting conversations.
Lawrence Fisburne as Pine's boss is impressive with his signature no-nonsense demeanour.
I go with 3.5 stars out of 5 for All the Old Knives. The 101 minute film is streaming on Amazon Prime.