It’s been some time since a studio released an entertaining political thriller. What used to be an almost monthly event with the Jason Bourne films and similar properties, has fallen by the wayside in recent years. Leave it to the streaming services to bring them back in a big way, with Amazon’s latest release, All the Old Knives.
The plot of All the Old Knives may sound close to real life, based on the book of the same name. In 2012 a terrorist group hijacks a Turkish Airlines flight. Despite the CIA’s best efforts, things do not end well. Nearly eight years later it’s discovered that the terrorist group may have had a mole inside the CIA, and a new investigation is opened with Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) tasked with discovering the identity of the mole.
To complicate matters further, Henry’s main subject of the investigation is his old flame, Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton), and her boss, Bill Compton (Jonathan Pryce). As Henry interviews Celia and Bill, the audience is treated to a variety of flashback sequences showing the inner workings of the CIA during the time of the initial incident.
One of the best parts of a good political thriller is keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat. All the Old Knives does that well once it gets going. Between the emotion felt watching the hijackers at work, to the thrills of trying to solve the case before Henry Pelham, the suspense aspect of the film is handled to near perfection.
With a brisk runtime of just over 90 minutes, All the Old Knives does not waste any time. Despite the short runtime, it still feels as though you’re spending a lot of time with these characters. You get to know Celia and Henry, as well as some of their on-the-ground informants. You start to care about these people, and even hope the mole isn’t among them.
The closer you get to the end of the film, the higher the tension becomes as more information is discovered about the mole and their motives. It’s an intimate experience where you feel close to the main characters. This is partially due to the short runtime, but also the fact that the film only really focuses on a handful of characters.
While All the Old Knives boasts an impressive cast and some characters are explored very well, it does feel as though others are underused. For instance, Laurence Fishburne is the head of the local CIA office, but he’s scarcely seen throughout the film. His only purpose is to occasionally issue orders before the movie shifts to another scene.
If you’re in the mood for a political thriller, All the Old Knives should not disappoint. It’s not as action-packed as you may be hoping, and there aren’t any Bourne-like hand-to-hand combat scenes either. What you will find is a film where the tension is high, and the characters are well written. It’s not perfect by any means, but it does enough right to be thoroughly entertaining.
About ALL THE OLD KNIVES
Synopsis: Two CIA operatives, and former lovers, reunite at idyllic Carmel-by-the-Sea to re-examine a mission six years ago in Vienna where a fellow agent might have been compromised.
Director: Janus Metz
Writer: Olen Steinhaur
Stars: Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Pryce
Runtime: 1 Hour, 41 Minutes
Releases: April 8th, 2022 (USA)
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.