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‘All The Old Knives’ review: A dangerous dinner date worth watching – Cinema, Movie, Film Review


This slow-burn espionage thriller from Prime Video gives space for stars Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton to create complex and emotive chemistry.

Prime Video’s newest star-studded thriller could have been a very bland affair. Too often a trailer can intrigue or even excite only to let you down in the end by seaming together a predictable plot with a pretty finish.

But, surprisingly (or what shouldn’t be surprising, looking at the cast) we’re given a gem of a film in ‘All The Old Knives’.

Based off a novel of the same name by Olen Steinhauer, ‘All The Old Knives’ stars Chris Pine as Henry Pelham, a CIA agent based in Vienna, haunted by a plane-jacking of a Turkish airliner which lead to the deaths of over 100 people. The terrorists involved were able to pull off the attack with insider information on the CIA’s counter-measures.

Now, eight years later, Pelham is tasked by his boss (Laurence Fishburne) with tracking down members of his old team and find the mole.

First, he travels to London to meet with Jonathan Pryce’s Bill Compton, a now retired old-guard of the Vienna office. On the night of the plane-jacking, Compton’s phone records showed a call to a mysterious number which makes his position very tenuous.

Another potential candidate is Celia Harrison, played by Thandiwe Newton. Her relationship with Henry is much more complicated. Eight years previous the two were very much in love. But on the night of the attack, Celia mysteriously left. She subsequently sets up a new life for herself, including a husband and two kids, in the idyllic Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

Most of the movie is spent in sunny Carmel, in a high-end restaurant only serving wine. It’s a cat and mouse performance by Pine and Newton, delivered at a dinner table. Both slowly figuring out new information about the events in question.

There are some great side characters, who flit in and out of flashbacks. We don’t see him much but Orli Shuka’s portrayal of Ilyas Shushani, a Chechen baker and Henry’s source who eventually gets sold out, much to Henry’s dismay, is exceptional. His character shows the complexity in the role of international espionage and the moral decisions people must make for what they think is the greater good.

But it all comes back to that diner table in the end. Newton’s performance is a quiet powerhouse of withdrawn emotion and complexity. Her on-screen relationship with the brooding Pine is caring and incredibly believable. The further we venture into the story, the more we realise this meeting is anything but a formality. The two ex-lovers still deeply care for one another. But, at the same time, both are desperately searching for the trust that once made them feel so safe in each other’s company.

‘All The Old Knives’ could have just been another cookie-cutter thriller, with beautiful actors and not much else. Instead, it delivers excellent, emotive performances and a riveting story about as classy as a high-end restaurant in California that only serves wine.


‘All The Old Knives’ releases on Prime Video this Friday, April 8.





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