As a spy thriller, ‘All the Old Knives’ is unfortunately uninteresting



Rated R. At Landmark Kendall Square, Embassy and on Amazon Prime.

Grade: C

It seems “All the Old Knives” is simply uninteresting. A John Le Carre-like spy story set in Vienna and London, however principally in a classy restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea, the movie begins with a 2012 terrorist hijacking of a aircraft with 120 folks aboard in Vienna (the movie was shot in London and California).

At the U.S. Embassy in Austria is a CIA station headed by a person named Vick Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne). Also on the station are higher-up Bill Compton (Jonathan Price), jittery cyber professional Owen Lassiter (David Dawson), dashing Henry Pelham (Chris Pine, additionally an government producer) and the gorgeous Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton). Henry and Celia are additionally lovers. Vick assembles his crew to save lots of the passengers. They uncover that they’ve an agent aboard. The agent contacts them to feed them info.

The Austrian authorities plan to storm the aircraft. Henry has a Chechen supply named Ilyas Shushani (an excellent Orli Shuka), a baker who has a spouse and 6-year-old daughter. We be taught a lot concerning the hijacking in flashbacks, whereas Henry and Celia, who’s another person’s spouse within the 2020 current time and a mom with two youngsters, meet in Carmel-by-the-Sea for an extended meal with a lot of California wine on the menu. Their assembly can be an interrogation.

Based on the 2015 novel by award-winning American author Olen Steinhauer (TV’s “Berlin Station”) and tailored by him, “All the Old Knives” makes many of the spy-game chessboard strikes you count on from a Le Carre or Len Deighton story. But it by no means builds up a head of emotional steam, and at one level I puzzled if the entire movie was set in that restaurant and that all the pieces else was a flashback. The route of Danish filmmaker Janus Metz (“Borg vs. McEnroe”) is sluggish. Pryce and Fishburne, two superb actors, are marooned. The cat-and-mouse goings on have little dramatic weight.

In 2012 scenes, Vick determines that there’s “a mole in our station.” That, in fact, is the dilemma in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” But that novel and the movie variations of it have been a lot extra gripping. Pine, who speaks Arabic in some scenes, and Newton have chemistry, and flashbacks to their lovemaking in Vienna are steamy. But the plot is a boring, gloomy labyrinth. Who is the mole? For some time I hoped perhaps I used to be, if I may get it to finish sooner.

The music by Jon Ekstrand and Rebekka Karijord is a pleasant mixture of romance and suspense. Pine, who’s graying within the present-day scenes and in no way grey within the 8-year-old Austrian flashbacks, tries to order the James Bond favourite, a vodka martini, however is informed the restaurant serves solely wine. The movie is weak stuff, too.

(“All the Old Knives” incorporates nudity, sexually suggestive scenes, violence and profanity.)

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