All the Old Knives [5/10]

Olen Steinhauer pens some of the most sparkling, enjoyable modern spy fiction in the genre, and I read the book All the Old Knives some years back, enjoying it. Luckily I could not recall the plot twists, so I came to the movie version, ”All the Old Knives,” with no spoilers and much anticipation. The plot is clever: a spy comes to a posh dinner in California to interview his former love, also a spy, about a terrible hijacking disaster seven years earlier in Vienna. Who was the rogue back then? For the first half, this filmic rendition sparkles: the key leads of Chris Pine as the interrogator, and Thandiwe Newton as the interviewee, work well while the setup and backstory are unfurled. The shady, shabby world of espionage is well conveyed. But the second half flags badly, with a classic twist at the end that I remember being shocked by with the book, but now unfolds so clumsily telegraphed that the climax (both the leads fail here) is a damp squib. Oh, for espionage thrillers to sparkle!

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