Janus Metz is the film’s director, and Olen Steinhauer wrote the script (who is also the author of the book the movie is based on). It begins with the terrorist hijacking of Flight 127 in 2012 and the CIA’s Vienna team attempting to make sense of what happened. Henry Pelham (Chris Pine), Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton), Vick Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne), Bill Compton (Jonathan Pryce), Ernst Pul (Jonjo O’Neill), Leila Maloof (Ahd), and Owen Lassiter (David Dawson) are the members of the team, but none of them are successful in apprehending the terrorists or rescuing any of the passengers. Additionally, their failure resulted in the demise of an informant who was providing the CIA with crucial details regarding the hijacking.
Eight years later, the case is revived after the attack’s mastermind, Ilyas Shushani (Orli Shuka), is apprehended and admits that the failure was caused by a CIA mole who provided information to the terrorists. Because the calls that originated in Vienna and went to Iran were from Bill Compton and Celia Harrison’s phones, Vick asks Henry to reexamine the situation and interview/question them. Vick effectively orders Henry to kill Celia for her alleged betrayal, so Henry pays Bill a visit before focusing on her. Henry meets Celia at a restaurant of her choosing, and throughout a protracted chat, a variety of truths are revealed that leave Henry, Celia, and the audience in disbelief.
Warning: Major Spoilers
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Why Does Vick Wallinger Send Henry Pelham To Get Celia Harrison?
The initial explanation offered to us is that Langley has formally opened the Flight 127 case after learning about Bill and Celia’s alleged role in the hostage crisis and the murder of their informant. Vick knows Henry is close to Bill and Celia, therefore Vick encourages Henry to pursue them (especially Celia, because of their romantic past). Vick is implied to feel that Henry is the only individual who can approach the pair without raising any suspicions and assist the CIA in obtaining proof of their involvement in the 2012 incident.
The reality, however, is quite the contrary. Because Celia is the only person who can authenticate Henry’s role in the Flight 127 scandal without raising any red flags, Vick assigns Henry to track down Celia. It’s unclear why, but Henry pursues Bill on his own since Bill was chosen to serve as the fall guy in the unlikely event that the CIA opened an inquiry. Vick, however, clearly deceives Henry into believing that he is going into a conversation with Celia when, in fact, it is the other way around. Why doesn’t Vick simply kill him off and make it appear as if he committed suicide (like it eventually does)? To add some heat and make the confession audible.
Was Bill Compton Guilty Of Betraying The CIA?
No, obviously not. Due to Henry’s access to Bill’s phone and the possibility that Bill used his wife’s illness as a cover for his erratic departures from the office to make contact with the terrorists or those aiding the terrorists, Bill was set up. At the pub, Henry tried to get Bill to say something that would allow him to implicate Bill because he wanted Bill to be the fall man. However, Bill is unharmed because he remains true to himself. Because of this, he is able to inform Celia that Henry is searching for a CIA mole. Since Celia is one of the two people who had access to Bill’s phone in Vienna and was one of the two who made a call to Iran, Henry will now turn his attention to Celia after finishing with Bill.
Why Did Ilyas Shushani Orchestrate The Hijacking Of Flight 127?
The hijack first appeared to be a stereotypical, Islamophobic portrayal of a Muslim guy killing unarmed civilians in the name of Allah. But Henry’s past provided an indication that this hostage crisis had more than one level. One of Henry’s first assignments was a case in Moscow, so he contacted Ilyas there in the hopes of learning more about a forthcoming terrorist strike. Henry not only gained Ilyas’ trust but also grew close to his family. Ilyas had nothing to do with the terrorist attack that resulted in deaths, thus the CIA urged Henry to turn over Ilyas to the Russians so as not to make the agency look foolish. Even though Henry objected, the CIA went ahead with it, separating Ilyas from his family.
Then it was made clear that Henry had contributed to Ilyas’ decision to plan the hijacking in Vienna. It is not merely an accident. Ilyas was brutalised by the Russians after he was hauled away. Due to American sanctions placed on Iran at the time Ilyas and his family departed, he was unable to treat his ailing daughter, who ultimately died. If the CIA hadn’t turned over Ilyas to the Russians, none of this would have occurred. If Henry hadn’t treated Ilyas as his contact, none of this would have happened. All of this would not have occurred if war crimes suspects had received punishment rather than their victims.
Therefore, the hijack was Ilyas’s means of retaliating against those who killed his family covertly. It was also Ilyas’ means of causing Henry to feel the fear of losing a loved one. Ilyas cornered Henry and Celia after leading them apart using the hostages (since Ilyas is aware of Henry’s love for Celia). Ilyas then threatened to kill Celia if Henry didn’t reveal the plans of the Americans and Austrians. Henry was made to live with the guilt of hundreds of people’s deaths by Ilyas because he preferred Celia over the CIA informant and the lives of the hostages. Similar to the millions of Muslims around the world who become collateral damage as a result of faulty national and international actions, Henry bore the brunt of Ilyas’ rage toward the USA and Russia.
Was Henry Pelham Going To Frame Or Kill Celia Harrison?
In no way. Henry made it clear that his entire strategy was to save Celia. He predicted that Bill would come up when the CIA tracked the Vienna team’s movements because Henry made the Iran call using his phone. He had no idea that Celia would copy Bill’s phone number and call it. He failed to predict Celia’s detour into Ilyas’ trap and subsequent use of Celia as leverage against Henry. We are led to believe that Celia faked her feelings in order to strategically leave the Vienna building and contact the terrorists through some deft editing. However, that was in no way the case. Henry actually shouted out loud that he wasn’t at the restaurant to kill Celia or get her put in jail. He claimed that he was invited to conduct this interview and that is why he was interested. Then, off their backs and via a different method, he was going to write a lengthy report about the interview and send it to the CIA. Henry really only agreed to the interview because he wanted to get answers about Celia’s sudden breakup from their intense romance.
All the Old Knives Ending Explained: Why Did Celia Harrison Kill Henry Pelham?
Henry’s phone received a call from an Iranian number, which is what caused Celia to end the relationship. She believed Henry had ties to the terrorists and was responsible for the CIA informant’s and Flight 127’s passengers’ deaths. She sprinted as far away from Henry as she could get as a result. She got married, had a child, and was enjoying a stress-free existence. Up until the CIA discovered Henry’s involvement in the case and the case was reopened. Henry was pursuing both of them, and Bill informed Celia of this. She consented to work with the CIA operation led by Karl (Corey Johnson) to assassinate Henry because she was afraid that Henry would take her or her family away from them. She was unaware of Henry’s efforts to save Celia from being killed by Ilyas’ men or the fact that he set up this entire distraction in order for the CIA to stay away from her. Celia returning to her family marks All the Old Knives’ concluding scene, which appears to be a happy one. But if you stop to think about it, Celia has to go through life knowing that she accidentally killed her saviour by putting her trust in the most sly organisation in the world, namely, the CIA.
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