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All the Old Knives

All the Old Knives
The steamy chemistry between Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton help to sustain interest in a 2022 espionage thriller called All the Old Knives, but not much.

Pine and Newton play Henry and Celia, respectively, CIA agents and former lovers, who find themselves involved in a deadly hijacking and reunited many years later when investigation into the tragedy is still pending. Eventually, Henry is assigned to reunite with Celia, who has since retired from the agency, married, and had children, to find out about suspicions that she might have might have been working with the hijackers.

This film reminded me a lot of a Robert Zemeckis film from a few years ago called Allied where Brad Pitt and Marian Coitillard played soldiers who are eventually forced into betraying each other. In that film, PItt has been presented evidence that Coitillard was double agent and is forced into betraying her, but the story here is not as clear cut.

Unfortunately, the screenplay by Olen Steinhauser, based on his own book and his first effort as a screenwriter is confusing as sketchy. It's not just that the story is told out of sequence.
Quentin Tarantino proved years ago that a story told out of sequence can work. Henry is given virtually no concrete evidence that Celia did anything wrong, while, everyone else Celia was working with at the time came off like everything that came out of their mouths was a lie (especially the Bill Compton character, played by Jonathan Pryce). Exactly what happened that day becomes more and more mysterious as the film progresses and the only thing we want is to see these two somehow reunite romantically, which is never going to happen.

And that's the main thing about this movie that works...the chemistry between Pine and Newton is positively kinetic, but outside of some outstanding production values (that wine-themed restaurant where they reunite is spectacular), it's the only thing that really works here. It runs less than two hours, but this one actually found me stifling the occasional yawn and checking my watch. And I'll be damned if I understand the title.