Featuring a stacked cast led by Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton, "All the Old Knives" is a slow-burning thriller centered around CIA agents. If you make it to the end, you will find many twists and turns, and none of them are as simple or as surface-level as they may appear.
At the climax of "All the Old Knives," it's revealed that Henry Pelham, the man sent to investigate potential traitors in the CIA, is actually the traitor himself. However, perhaps the most tragic twist comes in the form of Celia Harrison’s complicit actions that led to Pelham's own assassination by the CIA, as the agency had known about his betrayal all along.
Betrayal and revenge are to be expected in a spy thriller, but Ilyas Shushani’s attempt to free his comrades from prison is much deeper than just hijacking a plane. The plot is at least partially intended to make Pelham suffer — to make him betray the CIA in the same way that he once betrayed Shushani, his ex-informant.
Whether it's Henry Pelham’s love for Celia Harrison which leads to his betrayal of the CIA or Harrison’s love for her family that leads to Pelham’s death, there’s a deeper thematic message scattered all throughout the film. Almost every character in “All The Old Knives” makes their decisions based on love, which is unfortunately a death sentence.