All the Old Knives (2022)
April 11, 2022 2:41 PM - Subscribe

Two CIA agents and ex-lovers (Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton) are brought back together years after a failed rescue attempt and forced to blur the lines between profession and passion in this deeply riveting tale of global espionage, moral dilemma and deadly betrayal.

The Guardian: "Maybe a little unexpectedly, Amazon Studios have given us a very watchable and classily upscale espionage drama-thriller in the spirit of John le Carré. Danish film-maker Janus Metz Pedersen directs and Olen Steinhauer adapts his own much-admired spy novella, centered on two former lovers in the cloak and dagger business who meet for dinner in a chi-chi Californian restaurant ... The result is a complex confrontation over an Instagram-perfect meal with dizzying flashbacks to Vienna and flashbacks within flashbacks to Henry’s service in Moscow 12 years before that. It is the classic Le Carré conflation of three different sorts of betrayal: personal, professional and patriotic. Pine and Newton handle this choreography with maturity and style; Newton particularly shows how impressive she is with the right role. "
posted by jazon (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
An entertaining watch for someone who came across it while staying up past their regular bedtime (ahem) but, without spoiling, there was a major plot point that made no sense to me once the entire reveal was made.

I've always enjoyed Thandiwe Newton's acting, and thought it good here. She deserves bigger and better roles.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:52 AM on April 12, 2022

This was pretty sharp! I’m still trying to decide if they shot on location or in an LED volume… highlights include Old Man Chris Pine (verrrry strong Pierce Brianna vibes) and a nonlinear approach that works really well.
posted by sixswitch at 8:31 PM on April 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

*Pierce Brosnan

Screen Daily says it was indeed an LED volume. Paid off nicely!
posted by sixswitch at 8:41 PM on April 12, 2022

Not that it is all that relevant to discussion of the movie, but for those who, like me, may have been accustomed to a different spelling of her name and been curious about the change.. per Wikipedia:
In April 2021, Newton, having been widely known as Thandie Newton for 30 years because of her chosen spelling of her first name in the credits of her first film, announced she was finally correcting this and would henceforth be known and credited as Thandiwe Newton, her real name, beginning with Reminiscence (2021).
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:45 AM on April 13, 2022

This was well done, all around, and soft, relatively, considering the subject matter.
posted by Oyéah at 1:24 PM on April 13, 2022

Another sleepy watcher here, it was a fun spy who knew who done it and who would be walking away. But slightly disappointed by the twists somehow. Like, if you're a super experienced spy that is explicitly told to 'not touch' the wine glass, why would you touch the drinkers fingers? And did the red shirt waitress die?
posted by sammyo at 4:10 AM on April 14, 2022

The restaurant scene may have been on a soundstage in London but several things were shot on location in Carmel and Monterey. The Del Monte Shopping Center figured prominently.

They mentioned there was a driving double for Chris Pine and there was also some face replacement listed - I'm assuming those were the bits where Henry was driving around Carmel. The beach scene was probably shot in Santa Barbara because you could see oil platforms in the distance.

I found the story very engaging. I twigged who sold them out early on, but the reveal as to why the person did it was so heartbreaking. I really enjoyed this.
posted by rednikki at 7:36 PM on April 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I watched this all the way through and felt just meh at the end after all was revealed. The complexity was intriguing but I found so much of it implausible and a bit sappy.
posted by j810c at 3:26 PM on April 18, 2022

I liked this well enough but I don't think the "twist" was that much of a payoff. Pine and Newton did have some great chemistry and their performances did a lot to carry this. It made me ignore the things that I may have not otherwise.

(But yeah, some questionable wigs in the flashback scenes. I feel like wig budgets have gotten worse over time. Get better wigs! It's not that hard! This may just be my particular complaint, though.)

I used to not think much of Chris Pine but he's grown into himself a lot and definitely finds the right balance of sweet sexiness and also sexy danger. I like it.

(Also that sex scene was surprisingly tender and hot, especially given that so many movies seem to not want to have sex scenes now, or just give them the lightest of touches.)
posted by edencosmic at 5:31 PM on April 19, 2022

Just saw this last night! It was pretty good! I like how the played the twist even though it was clear to me who was responsible from pretty early on. Newton and Pine were really great together.
posted by Carillon at 1:56 PM on May 7, 2022

I didn’t read the descriptions of this well at all and went into it in the “spy thriller” mindset and not “aftermath of a terrorist attack” mindset. Oops. I enjoyed it well enough I guess but I did not have a fun time!
posted by obfuscation at 5:32 AM on May 8, 2022

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