All the Old Knives summary and ending explained

Prime Video’s All the Old Knives is a thriller film that chronicles the events of a hijacking which leads to dire consequences for employees of the CIA. It stars Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton in the lead.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot Summary

All the Old Knives opens at the CIA office in Vienna, Austria in 2012 as Turkish Alliance flight 127 is hijacked on the runway.

It is revealed that nothing could be done and the perpetrators have killed everyone onboard including themselves.

This news is hard for the agents to take and Celia Harrison (Newton) leaves the building crying and runs off as her lover and fellow agent, Henry Pelham (Pine) chases after her out of concern. However, she is nowhere to be found.

The narrative switches to 2020 and Henry is called in by his boss Vick Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne) who informs him that the mastermind behind the hijacking, Ilyas Shishani, was caught and revealed that there was a mole in their department.

However, before they could get a name, Ilyas died. Pelham is tasked with interrogating Celia (who he hasn’t seen in eight years) as well as their former second-in-command, Bill Compton (Jonathan Pryce), to decipher if they leaked information.

Henry travels to Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where he meets up with a now married Celia in an upscale yet fairly empty restaurant. He has a fellow agent on standby, ready to eliminate her if she turns out to be the mole.

The conversation starts off with pleasantries but the questioning soon begins as Celia reveals that she was approached by Austrian intelligence agent Karl Stein soon after she left. He wanted her to rat out Bill as an informer but she refused as he had no evidence.

Moving on from this information, Celia starts going over the day of the hijacking.

The film transitions into a flashback that kicks off with agents entering the office in the morning and being informed of the hijacking of flight 127 by an Islamic terrorist group.

The intensity increases within the premises as everyone gets to solving the problem with Henry and Celia talking to their respective sources about any information they might have.

After a while some intel reveals that the mastermind behind the attack is probably Ilyas Shushani — a Chechen and former source of Henry’s from when he was posted in Moscow.

The hijackers demand the release of their fellow members or else they would murder everyone on the flight. As the governments decide their plan of action, the CIA sees a ray of hope when one of their couriers Ahmed is revealed to be a passenger on the flight.

He contacts them secretly and suggests an attack using the plane’s undercarriage. Meanwhile, Celia meets up with a source from the Muslim Women’s Foundation hoping for a lead.

She ends up meeting a mysterious man named Mohammed who turns out to be a dead end. After a while, they agency receives another message from Ahmed who now says that they have a camera on the undercarriage and the attack must not take place.

In the present, it is also revealed that Henry put Bill through the wringer in London three weeks before he met Celia in order to get his side of the story.

If you have any doubts about the ending, here’s a complete breakdown.

All the Old Knives ending explained in detail:

Ilyas’ past

As these developments are taking place, Henry is questioned by Bill and Celia in the flashback about his relationship with Ilyas and why was he posted out of Moscow.

Henry replies that Ilyas was a simple family man and a good friend. He wasn’t radicalised and just wanted to keep his wife and daughter safe.

However, after the Moscow theater hostage crisis, the Russian government was impatient for answers. They then presented America with evidence about an imminent attack on its embassy in Budapest but wanted intel in return to divulge complete information.

That is when Henry’s superiors instructed him to betray the innocent Ilyas and give him up to the Russians so that the Budapest attack can be prevented.

He was posted out to prevent the Russians from getting to him via Ilyas. This news comes as a shock to both Celia and Bill who realise the motivation for the hijacking.

The mole

Celia then circles back to Ahmed’s intel and tries to figure out why he suddenly changed his tone about the undercarriage attack.

She suspects foul play and checks the station’s phone logs only to discover a call made to Iran from Bill’s personal line.

Subsequently, Ahmed is found and killed by the militants which is caught on camera as they throw his body out.

Celia heads home to Henry and breaks the news of the assassination to him. He quickly gets into the shower to head out and at that moment, his phone rings.

Celia is shocked to discover that the incoming call is from the same Iranian number that was on Bill’s call logs. It is in that moment she realises that Henry is the mole.

This is when it also comes to attention that the militants realised that their demands were not being met and released Sarin gas within the aircraft, killing everyone on board.

The narrative cuts to the opening scene of the film when Celia runs out of the station knowing that her lover has betrayed his country.

She breaks up with him the next day and moves back to America, however, she doesn’t reveal this information to anyone nor does she give Henry a reason for her actions.

Deadly twists

Back in the present, Henry is stunned to find out that Celia knew about his actions but refused to speak about them.

She reveals that Ilyas had already told the agency his name before dying. The entire restaurant meeting was a setup and he has been poisoned through the wine.

She also mentions that after Henry interrogated Bill in London, he called her and informed her that Henry would be coming for her next. That is when she decided to contact the same Austrian agent, Karl Stein, to finally set him up.

Telling him that he has little time left to live, she coaxes Henry for answers as to why he leaked information.

Henry replies that he did it for her. When she went to meet up with her contact from the Muslim Women’s Foundation, Henry was tricked into a meeting with Ilyas who was present in Vienna at the same time.

Ilyas berated him for giving him and his family up to the Russians and ordered him to call Celia. It is then revealed that Mohammad was one of Ilyas’ contacts and had Henry not given him information, Celia would have been killed.

He returned to the station and placed the call from Bill’s phone to put the blame on him and save their relationship.

Celia is devastated to hear this and cries as Henry slowly succumbs to the poison. He tells her to leave as he perishes.

She walks out of the restaurant and meets with Karl who phones Vick to update him of Henry’s death — revealing that Vick was in on the plan from the start.

Before the credits roll, we see Celia head back home and hug her son as she weeps uncontrollably.


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