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MPerhaps a little unexpectedly, Amazon Studios has given us a very watchable, high-end spy-drama-thriller in the spirit of John le Carré. Danish filmmaker Janus Metz Pedersen is directing and Olen Steinhauer is adapting his own much-admired spy novella, centering on two former coat-and-dagger lovers who meet for dinner at a California chi-chi restaurant. The story is actually inspired by a BBC TV series that had nothing to do with spies: The Song of Lunch starring Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman.

Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) is a CIA officer haunted by a disastrous event eight years earlier, when he was at the Vienna train station: a plane hijacking resulted in a hundred deaths because the terrorists were able to anticipate the authorities’ counter-attack. And he is still heartbroken because his CIA colleague Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton), whom he was and is deeply in love with, broke up with him soon after, dropped out of the service and is now a placidly content wife and mother. in Carmel, California.

Now Henry’s hardened station manager, Vic Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne), tells him there’s evidence they had a mole – and Henry is now charged with the emotionally painful duty of reopening the wounds and interrogate the suspects, including the sly and evasive agent Bill (Jonathan Pryce) who is these days semi-retired, resentfully mumbling his whiskey in a London pub. But Henry must also go to Carmel to ask Celia to go to the restaurant to interrogate him during dinner. And Vic doesn’t want details or official investigations: if Celia’s answers aren’t satisfactory, Henry has the power of Vic to fire her with extreme prejudice.

The result is a complex confrontation over a perfect meal on Instagram with dizzying flashbacks to Vienna and flashbacks to Henry’s service in Moscow 12 years before. It’s Le Carré’s classic amalgam of three kinds of betrayal: personal, professional, and patriotic. Pine and Newton handle this choreography with maturity and style; Newton particularly shows how impressive she is with the right role.

All Old Knives hits theaters and Prime Video on April 8.

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