It is hard to come up with a strong narrative that can be equally interesting, intelligent and compelling. It is almost like wanting something unreal to happen. That is the exact case with the “All the Old Knives” – when it tries to jump high over its head but lands flat.
Based on the novel by Olen Steinhauer, who writes the screenplay himself and directed by Janus Metz Pedersen, it follows the terrorists that hijack the Turkish Airline 127 flight. What’s meant to be more or less a negotiation before storming out the plan to save the vast majority of hostages, turns into a bloodbath. Terrorists, without reason, declare the stoppage of any negotiations and kill everyone on board. Eight years later, the CIA opens up an investigation that they believe one of their own jeopardized and worked along with the terrorists against the government.
Henry Perlman (Chris Pine) is assigned by his superior (Laurence Fishburne) to interview the primary suspects and two of them is Bill Compton (Jonathan Pryce) and Henry’s ex lover and colleague, Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton). The slow burning start introduces us the hijackers that are clear they won’t mess up with their demands. In the situation room, Celia, Henry, Bill and a few others try to come up with a plan for the hostages kept on board the plane at the Vienna Airport. When the worst happens, Celia returns from the CIA and is happily married and enjoys motherhood with two adorable children. But the appearance of Henry disrupts her plan, as the woman tries to figure out his motives, as they revisit their past.
“All the Old Knives” is a kind of film that cannot keep the main secret until the end of the film. Whether it is just me, but who was at guilt and worked with terrorists was quite obvious after the first twenty minutes or the film was behind. Despite that, it was still interesting to watch, as to what and led to the events of eight years prior was yet to be revealed. Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton are fine actors, each of them have their own unique technique when it necessary to travel deep into the mind of their characters. However, the written script or the predictability does not allow them to play with their characters and you can tell, sometimes they don’t even know what is happening.
That does not mean that it’s a bad film. But not a good one either. It’s an average piece that won’t do much to convince you of its importance, even though big names are attached to it. But perhaps that probably is the only reason to watch it, because otherwise, films like this never age well.