Amazon Studios presents the 2022 film ‘All the Old Knives‘ written by Olen Steinhauer and directed by Janus Metz Pedersen—a moving picture captivated by love and espionage—a mysterious thriller encompassing real-world deception, love, sacrifice, and tragedy—references to a real-life historical tragedy, 2002 Nord-Ost siege.
In Vienna, Austria, former lovers and co-agents Henry Pellham (Chris Pine) and Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton) face a terrorist hijacking. The hijacking takes place on a plane runway with men, women, and children. Embodying similar characteristics to another real-life terrorist attack, the 1972 Munich massacre. Hijackers aware of ongoing broadcasts to maintain a step ahead of authorities are present in the Munich massacre and depicted in this film. Although ‘All the Old Knives’ is claimed as fiction, the parallels of the complexities within real-world foreign policy are mimicked throughout the moving picture.
In hopes of acting fast and saving the hostages, Henry, Celia, and their team ultimately fail. Failing to protect the innocent and capture the terrorists on Flight 127 results in losing lives and Henry and Ceila’s blossoming romance. Celia flees in despair to Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where she has a husband and children and is no longer a CIA agent.
Eight distant years later, Henry is requested to interrogate and confirm the conspiracy of a potential mole that transferred information to the hijackers during the tragedy of flight 127, the last suspect, Celia. Struggling to keep their twin-flame connection at bay, the questioning begins, seated at a restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Surrounded by fine wine and a calming view, the ex-lovers reconnect. Henry is forced to get to the unresolved questions. But who is interrogating who?
Interpretation of themes in ‘All the Old Knives’
A hidden deception lurks between Henry and Celia. The gradual reveal of what each character reflects as their truth causes the viewer to wonder, what exactly is true? The co-agents spent the crisis of flight 127 separately but re-join with love and in desperate comfort. Although Henry is inquiring about Celia’s actions on that day, the greater despair to Henry is why she left him.
The orders instructed by Henry’s superior, Vick Wallinger (Laurence Fishburn), are to terminate the confirmed mole discretely for the sake of the CIA’s reputation. However, Henry’s response to agree is confident but altered with doubt in the moments leading up to the reawakened turmoil.
Love over the obligation to one’s duty or instead love over establishing a balance of justice. And yet it seems that both our main characters struggle with this internal conflict. The audience understands this from various points of view. But what pieces are missing, and who carries the knives?
‘All the Old Knives’ captures both a literal and figurative interpretation within the title. The film displays an array of emotions, from romance and tragedy to sudden twists. The film provides attraction due to its variety of topics covered and its relatability to the human experience in the 21st century. The deeper meaning is to what lengths would one go for the ones they love? Does hiding the truth genuinely protect them? What sacrifice would one give to save them?