All the Old Knives ending explained – who was the mole inside the agency?

April 8, 2022
M.N. Miller 1
Amazon Prime, Ending Explained, Film, Streaming Service
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This article discusses the ending of the Amazon film All the Old Knives, which will contain spoilers

In the years prior, the CIA was responsible for a leak that led to the death of over 100 people from a terrorist hijacking. Their station in Vienna was responsible for a leak. This led to the terrorists being informed of an operative on board and knowing about an undercarriage attack to save the passengers.

During that time in Vienna, you had a young operative named Henry Pelham (Chris Pine), his coworker/lover Celia Harrison (Thandie Newton), an agent near retirement (Jonathan Pryce), and the management (Laurence Fishburne) debating the ramifications of their actions. The terrorists are deliberate and fanatical. There is no way to save them all. In fact, why even get involved? Why have the blood on the US hands when it’s an Austrian problem?

Something went wrong because the terrorists killed the mole in front of the cameras at the plane door and fell on the wet/hard concrete below. Was there a mole? Years later, Vick (Fishburne) asks Pine’s Pelham to investigate and bury it if he needs to so the CIA doesn’t come out of this with bad press.

The film, from there, investigates the timeline by jumping back and forth between the romance of Celia and Henry. She broke up with him soon after that tragedy, but he never knew why. He travels to London to talk to Bill (Pryce) because he seems like the most logical suspect. He could have used the money close to retirement, and he left that night with the convenient excuse his wife needed him. Henry then travels to Carmel, California, to visit his old flame, Celia, hoping to not only solve the mystery of who the leak was but so she can offer closure.

Well, there is good news and bad news for him. When it comes to Henry’s past, it was responsible for two things. One, it led to why Celia dumped him. It led to Henry, yes, Henry, being the mole.

Amazon film All the Old Knives ending explained

Henry had to give up an asset when he was in Russia. A good man, a baker who had a daughter. It was not Henry’s call, and he was already gone when he went to save him. The man Ilyus (Orli Shuka) lost his daughter, who died without proper medication when she was sent to a country not fit to care for her; years later, he is now the head terrorist responsible for the attack on that flight in Vienna. When Henry went to talk to him, he knew Henry was sleeping with Celia. He now has Henry in a power play because Celia, at the same time, went to question an asset close to Ilyas. He tells Henry to give him the name of the operative on the plane and the plan of attack, or he will give the order to kill Celia.

Henry obliges.

Later, she tells him everyone on the plane was killed at his apartment. When he goes to shower, she sees someone is calling him on his cell. It’s the same number she found when going through phone logs that she thinks is of the terrorist behind the plane jacking. Knowing that Henry is the mole, she leaves but never turns him in. She, in turn, has no idea he saved her life.

So, as he questions her at a bar in the middle of wine country in present-day, Henry begins to feel sick and starts bleeding from the nose. The tables have been turned. She and the CIA have planned an operation to catch Henry as the mole. As he begins to die, he tells Celia what happened. She begins to cry and is sick to her stomach. There is nothing she can do. It is too late. She leaves, and Henry takes a phone call. As she talks back to her house, the man training Celia asks for permission to kill her. He dies before he can reply, but we can safely assume he would have called it off, right?

The final scenes show Fishburne’s Vick, we presume, cleaning out Henry’s apartment.

What did you think of ending the Amazon film All the Old Knives? Comment below!