All The Old Knives ending, explained — Who is the CIA mole?

By Feron Jayawardene — ON Apr 11, 2022
All The Old Knives
Celia Harrison (Thandie Newton) and Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) | Stefania Rosini/Amazon Studios

The latest Amazon studios release is an action-packed thriller that holds all viewers to the edge of their seats till the very end. Narrated in two overlapping timelines, the film revolves around a CIA team who attempt to curtail a plane hijacking in Austria. The team understands that someone inside had leaked intel about their plans and assigns CIA agent Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) to search for the mole. Henry uncovers a damning revelation at the end, leaving many viewers baffled and confused. 

We have to talk about the whole plot to figure out the end, so major spoilers ahead!

Flight 127 is captured by extremists

The Vienna based CIA team gets information that a flight that landed in Austria had been held hostage by Al-Da’irat, a terrorist group known for its extreme tactics. While the team scrambles to get intel from sources, Henry Thorpe receives a text message from a source who wants to schedule a private meeting to give intel about the hijacking.

Meanwhile, agent Celia Harrison (Thandie Newton), who is also Henry’s girlfriend follows one of her sources to get intel. The source takes Celia’s phone and leads her to a shady building where a man demands money in exchange for intel. Celia believes this is just a ploy to get money and leaves the place without getting any intel. 

The team gets intel from an asset inside the hijacked plane

A CIA informant stuck inside the plane sends them messages from the plane suggesting they attack from the undercarriage. He also reveals that one terrorist speaks Russian, making the team suspect a man called Ilyas Shishani to be behind the attack. Henry reveals that Ilyas was a very close source during his time in Russia. But he was forced to give Ilyas to the Russians in an exchange for Russian intel. Ilyas had been tortured by the Russians for 6 months and had later fled to Tehran before getting radicalised. 

However, Celia sees some anomalies in the CIA informant’s writing style when comparing the two messages he sent. The team realises that the informant has been compromised. The terrorists later kill the informant and release a toxic gas called Sarin when their demands weren’t met, killing everyone on board including the terrorists. 

Ilyas reveals a mole inside the CIA, helping terrorists to stay one step ahead

Fast forward 8 years, a captured Ilyas had revealed that they got inside information from a mole inside the CIA during the hostage takeover. He had died before he could reveal the name. The CIA had also found two outgoing phone calls to Tehran from the CIA office during the hostage takeover. They had traced the extension to the office of the CIA second in command Bill Compton (Jonathan Pryce) who shared an office with Celia, making them the prime suspects of the case. Henry is tasked with finding the mole and killing whoever it is because the CIA couldn’t afford a public prosecution.  

Henry meets Bill in London and confronts him, but Bill denies his involvement. Henry then goes to California to meet with Celia, who is now a mother of two. Bill also hires a hitman codenamed Treble to kill Celia if needed.

Celia reveals what happened during the hostage situation

Celia reveals she had gone through the phone logs after realising the anomalies in the writing style of the informant. She had seen the calls to Tehran from her office extension and tried to call the number. A man answers the call in a foreign language, revealing someone from the office had been in contact with the hostages.

During the hostage situation, she goes home and spends the night with Henry. That evening, Celia sees the same Tehran number calling on Henry’s phone, revealing Henry to be the mole who had framed Celia and Bill in a bid to pin the crime on them. Celia also reveals that Bill had spoken to her after Henry met Bill in London. She had contacted another CIA officer, to tell the truth behind the story and they had set up this meeting to kill Henry.

The CIA officer and his accomplices had poisoned Henry’s wine, giving him minutes to live. 

Henry reveals why he had to compromise the operation

Henry tells about the private meeting set up by his source when the hostages took control of the plane. The man he met is revealed to be Ilyas Shishani. Ilyas had planned this meeting during the same time Celia was meeting with her informant. He blackmails Henry to give up inside intel to save Celia’s life. Henry gives up all the intel but doesn’t tell anything to Celia, until now.

A distraught Celia tells Henry that Ilyas had ratted out Henry before the CIA killed him. Celia only had been a way to confirm the story Ilyas had given, which turned out to be accurate. She leaves Henry who is now gasping for breath, about to die. 

While Henry is dying, he gets a call from the hitman asking whether to proceed. Henry gasps for air, but no word comes out of his mouth. He lays on the table, Dead. Celia goes home and the movie ends with a flashback of Celia and Henry together. 

In a star-studded performance, the film delivers to hold suspense until the very end with the use of overlooking timelines and some creative directing. But when compared with other action thrillers, the film fails to deliver a strong enough script. The film had received an average critic consensus with a 66% rating on rotten tomatoes, but it had failed to impress the viewers.