All The Old Knives Twist Ending Explained (In Detail)

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Amazon’s spy thriller All the Old Knives has an ending with an unexpected twist, leaving audiences wanting the All the Old Knives ending explained. Based on the book of the same name by Olen Steinhauer, All the Old Knives sees two ex-lovers and CIA operatives meet after eight years to decipher who the mole was in a disastrous terrorist case. The movie is told through a series of flashbacks to the fictional Flight 127 case, which saw the CIA operatives trying to stop a plane hijacking presumed to be led by extremist Ilyas Shushani. They discover one of their own agents has fed information to the attackers.

All the Old Knives’ suspense primarily relies on the chemistry of its two lead characters Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison. Henry was sent to confirm whether Celia was the mole who aided the hijackers, and the truth is slowly revealed as they talk. In the end, All the Old Knives reveals Henry was the traitor, with Celia explaining that she was actually the one sent to trap Henry into admitting his crimes. Even after All the Old Knives‘ characters drop the twist, the spy thriller keeps audiences invested by waiting to see if either of the agents will be able to leave the restaurant alive.

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All The Old Knives: Henry’s Traitor Twist Explained

Chris Pine in All the Old Knives.

While All the Old Knives had been hinting at the traitor being Celia or Bill, it’s later revealed that Henry was the traitor all along, as his meeting with Celia was a setup. Henry thought he was in the clear with Vick and could use Bill and Celia as the scapegoats, with a hitman on standby to kill Celia if needed. However, Celia reveals she was the one who arranged the meeting with Henry, not the other way around. After the CIA had captured Ilyas, he revealed it was Henry who fed him the information about the undercarriage attack plan and that Ahmed was a secret agent.

After the twist ending to All the Old Knives’ story reveals that Henry was the mole all along, every odd detail from the dinner becomes more apparent as a clue to his guilt, such as the strange waiter switch-up toward the end of their meeting. The sad part of All the Old Knives’ ending is that Celia knew Henry was guilty all along, but left him because she believed that he was genuinely working with Ilyas. In reality, he only did so to save her life, which makes the ending all the more tragic as they admit their long-lost love for each other while he dies.

Was Henry Going To Have Celia Killed?

All the Old Knives cast.

In hindsight, an odd detail about Henry’s preparation for his meeting with Celia makes less sense once the truth is revealed. Chris Pine’s Henry had a hitman, Treble, on-call at the restaurant to kill Celia if he gave the word, which suggests that Henry was still willing to kill Celia even though he knew that she was innocent. Since All the Old Knives’ main character already betrayed his country in order to save Celia’s life, it doesn’t make too much sense that he would hire a hitman to kill her simply to avoid being caught for his crime.

Even as Henry lay on the table dying, the hitman followed Celia outside and asked for a confirmation of whether to shoot, with Celia safe because Henry dies before giving an answer. Since the hitman wasn’t revealed to actually be there to kill Henry in the major twist, the All the Old Knives’ ending suggests that Henry really was considering killing Thandiwe Newton’s Celia. However, considering how much he still loved her, it’s unlikely that he ever would have truly told Treble to pull the trigger in All the Old Knives‘ last scene.

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Did Bill Really Betray The CIA?

Jonathan Pryce in All the Old Knives.

Henry’s perspective made it seem Bill was the traitor, but All the Old Knives ending explained he was framed by Henry as the scapegoat. Henry and Bill’s meeting suggested Bill was hiding something, but the All the Old Knives ending explained Bill was scared of being accused when he was not responsible. In reality, Henry set up Bill by making a mysterious call to Ilyas’ phone number from Bill’s office before he left the CIA building for the night. Just as Celia was innocent, her boss never betrayed the CIA, as he was simply going to be used as a patsy for Henry to get away with his crime.

Why Ilyas Arranged The Plane Hijacking

Ilyas Shushani in All the Old Knives.

All the Old Knives‘ ending explained Ilyas was never a terrorist or extremist when he knew Henry in Moscow. Henry reveals he gave Ilyas up to the Russians to get information about a future attack, with the Russians torturing him. When meeting with Henry in Vienna, Ilyas explained when his family had to flee to Iran, his 6-year-old daughter died because they didn’t have the proper medicines to save her due to American sanctions. All the Old Knives’ ending implies that Henry’s betrayal of Ilyas caused the Chechen bread baker to seek revenge on not only Henry but also the Americans and larger powers who ruined his life.

The message the plane hijackers sent out was that they were “the real people around the world, the powerless who will strike back,” which connects to how Ilyas was a powerless individual whose life was ruined while being used as a pawn for the Americans and Russians. Ilyas was labeled a terrorist by the Russians and Americans, even though he had only been a bread baker giving the Americans secrets before being betrayed. The All the Old Knives ending explained that had Henry never given up Ilyas as his source of information, the Flight 127 hijacking never would have happened.

Why Celia Decided To Help The CIA Kill Henry

Henry's death in All the Old Knives.

Henry thought he would have to make the decision to kill his ex-lover Celia; All the Old Knives’ ending explained Celia had been instructed to kill Henry by Vick before the meeting. While Celia loved Henry, the reason she chose to kill him is she believed he willingly helped feed secrets to Ilyas about the hijacking. It wasn’t until Celia helped poison him that he admitted he told Ilyas their plan because he was going to kill her. Even if she had known all along Henry did it for her, it’s more likely she still would have agreed to kill him so that the CIA would leave her alone.

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After Henry dies, Celia tells the CIA to never contact her or her family again, proving she was motivated by leaving all the pain of Flight 127 behind her. Either way, Henry had lied to her over the past decade about being the mole and was even ready to give up Celia instead when he was under the assumption that Vick thought he was innocent. Since Celia admitted that her family saved her after the chaos of Flight 127, killing Henry was the only way she could keep her family safe and leave All the Old Knives’ conflict in the past.

How All The Old Knives’ Ending Changed The Book

Chris Pine in All The Old Knives.

While the All the Old Knives ending explained that Henry was the traitor and that Celia killed him, the end differed from the source novel. The biggest change is whether Celia dies in the All the Old Knives book. In the movie, Celia walks out of the restaurant, and the hitman asked Henry if he should still kill her. Henry died, so he couldn’t answer. In the book, Henry gives the one-word order, “Natch,” and it is not revealed if the hitman kills her, remaining open-ended for the reader. In the movie, the hitman calls off the hit, and Celia leaves, putting the CIA in her rearview mirror.

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