Movie Review: All The Old Knives

There are no spoilers in this review of this film, which you can catch at the Hillcrest Landmark or on Amazon Prime. With an espionage thriller, often critics reveal things that might not be spoilers to the ending, but still ruin things. There’s none of that here. 

The title All the Old Knives might make you think about the much better movie Knives Out. Now, replace Chris Evans and his crew neck fisherman’s sweater, to Chris Pine and a turtleneck. Pine is also the one doing the investigating. Early on, we think Laurence Fishburne would play that part, but he isn’t in much of the movie. And that’s unfortunate. We also don’t get enough of Jonathan Pryce (check him out with Glenn Close in The Wife from a few years ago; a terrific film).

The other in this small, but talented cast, is Thandiwe Newton. She and Pine lack chemistry, but that lack of chemistry actually works for part of the story, since she is one of the suspects he is investigating. The two do share a juicy love scene.

This bestselling novel came out in 2015, and author Olen Steinhauer adapted this screenplay from it. Director Janus Metz Pelham (Borg vs. McEnroe) did a decent job with what he was given. It’s the type of thriller that doesn’t have shoot-outs and explosions, but adults won’t have a problem watching the story unfold (okay, there were a few minutes in the middle when I was bored).

A CIA agent is told by boss that he needs to investigate a hijacking that they closed the book on eight years earlier. It ended with everyone on the plane dying at the hands of Hihadist terrorists. 

It turns out one of the terrorists said he had help from the inside, and Vick (Fishburne) believes him. And so do we since, if there wasn’t a mole involved, we probably don’t have a movie.

The first stop is to a London Pub, where Pine questions Pryce’s character. It’s a terrific scene. I’ve always loved a movie scene that has two great actors who have dialogue that starts calmly, and the tension is ratcheted up as it plays out.

The next person questioned is Celia (Newton). She will also be the last person questioned, so you start to wonder – are there really only two suspects involved here? (well, they do tell us that another person involved killed themself, so there’s the possibility he could be the mole). Yet if the dead CIA agent is the mole, the only story left is if the two former lovers at the CIA will get back together. And when they have a rather romantic get together at a beautiful restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea, that is also somewhat intriguing (although they mention her having a husband and kids so, is that really something the movie goer is rooting for?).

A few of the flashbacks we get are interesting, but most of them are boring (although never as boring as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which I remember LaDona Harvey, and every other critic in the world, loving). It is interesting when you watch the flashbacks center on their affair, because if she's the mole, perhaps she was just playing him all along. It gives us something to look for (other than just admiring two gorgeous actors that are getting naked, but yeah, there is that).

There’s a score by Rebekka Karijord and Jon Ekstrand that’s a bit overwhelming. And while I appreciate a great score, I don’t want to be forced to feel a certain way because it’s so loud or played too often. It’s rather dramatic in many of the scenes where I felt less would have been more.

The ending of this was really cool, but again, you’ll find lots of flaws if you really analyze it.

Oh, and with the CIA agents stationed in Vienna for part of the movie, it’s nice to be reminded of Billy Joel’s best song – Vienna (perhaps Ted Garcia and I will talk one day about our love of all the “yacht rock” ballads Joel did in the ‘70s).

2 ½ stars out of 5.

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