Dallas Movie Screening

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Saturday, April 9, 2022

All the Old Knives

Director: Janus Metz Pederson

Studio: Amazon Studios

All the Old Knives is just another Knives Out movie reference!

The title and the atmosphere of this film reminded me of the film Knives Out with James Bond actor Daniel Craig starring in it. All the Old Knives is based on the novel of the same name written by Olen Steinhauer, who also serves as the film’s screenwriter. Danish filmmaker Janus Metz Pederson sets foot in the big Hollywood movie-directing world as he is going to solve the mystery by putting the pieces of the puzzle together. The film features the cast of Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishburne, and Jonathan Pryce.

All the Old Knives focuses on two CIA agents and ex-lovers Henry and Celia meet over dinner to reminisce on their time together at Vienna, discussing the incident and the disastrous hijacking of Royal Jordanian Flight 127, which ended in the deaths of all who are on board. That failure haunts the CIA to this day as Henry seeks to close the chapter on this investigation. Over a sumptuous dinner, Henry and Celia soon realize that one of them is not going to survive by the time their dinner is over.

Actors Chris Pine (Star Trek, Wonder Woman) and Thandiwe Newton (HBO’s Westworld, Crash) both received their main onscreen roles as Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison, the duo of CIA colleagues and former lovers who are meet each other for the first time in years at the restaurant close to the sea to exclaim about the Royal Jordanian Flight 127 shooting incident. Pine and Newton’s appearances are necessary in this drama-thriller film, gathering the elements and surprises towards audiences like any other spy movies, but they both got some serious, dramatized acting based on their facial expressions and emotions they provided just to keep this film as suspenseful as ever. To my surprise for the character’s reference, Chris Pine’s character name sounded exactly like mine, but with a few letters being added.

Under Janus Metz Pederson’s solo direction, he manages to keep the tone and the atmosphere of this flowing film, taking movie-making advice from the James Bond films, Knives Out, and that classic Get Smart sitcom, created and produced by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. What’s highly understandable is that this film may be his first motion picture he has ever directed, but even though whether or not this film will be a hit, it never discouraged him from continuing his job as a Hollywood film director.

The story seems very dark, sad, unemotional, and gritty along with the sluggish pacing, which doesn’t seem very helping to accommodate the actors’ screen time, the scene edits, the story arcs, and the climaxes. Though there are small scenes that feature comedy offered by the main actors, all of the good comedy parts have been cut out due to save time, focus on romantic chemistry between Pine and Newton, and making the story accurate from the book. My grievance on this film is that the director and the crew spent too much time rushing and dragging in some scenes, including the dinner climax, in order to craft a simple spy film with no flaws and mistakes. Even the ending is sad and cheezy, but it’s nothing memorable to find a decent ending for that twist.

And then, we have actor Laurence Fishburne, who skipped out on his The Matrix Resurrections reprising-role opportunity, appearing in the film as the supportive CIA leader Vick Wallinger while Oscar-nominee Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) who has his supporting role as Bill with some unique Gary Oldman-impressions being displayed right there in this film.

With only 100 minutes to watch, All the Old Knives is just average in my honest opinion. It was slow and sadder throughout the film, with some scary moments that will affect you and your children. There’s a lot of suspense, the pacing issues, and the lack of colors flying all over the film, which gives me the creeps. The actors Chris Pine and Thandwie Newton, however, really did a terrific job as they’re the only ones who keep the story afloat and make this film entertaining entirely.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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