All The Old Knives

While it’s nice to see the return of the slow-burn spy thriller to our screens, it would be even nicer if a bit of energy could be injected into them. All The Old Knives is a prime example of this. It moves slowly, sometimes too slowly, and wants to be the kind of film that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was. Sadly, All The Old Knives is largely a waste of time, even if Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton try their best with limited resources.

Henry (Pine) and Celia (Newton) are ex lovers who used to work together. In fact, they worked for the CIA until a terrorist incident rocked their department, and led to the pair splitting up. Years after the event, new evidence comes to light which sees Henry tracking down old operatives in the hope of finding the mole who leaked intel to the terrorists. The couple meet in a wine bar in California, where Celia now lives, and the two reminisce about the past — both professionally and personally.

All The Old Knives is an odd sort really. It casts Pine as a grizzled and weary spy who has seen it all before, while wasting his natural charm and charisma. Newton shares a lot of screen time with the actor, but never seems to know what to do when the pair are together. The two share little chemistry, and make for a couple who have been forced together rather than two lovers whose destiny lay with each other. Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Pryce and Corey Johnson all show up throughout the film, but none are given anything meaty to chew on. Only Pryce feels like he is trying to pull something from the role of a retired spy who is now sipping whiskey in a dull London pub.

The plot largely meanders and despite some promising moments, it never gets into gear. There is little in the way of tension, and the twists make for routinely dull moments which fail to get the blood flowing. It’s not that All The Old Knives is inherently bad, it’s just that it merely exists. It’s average Friday night fare, and that’s okay, but there are better ways to spend your time.

3/5

All The Old Knives is available to stream on Prime Video from 8 April.

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