Review: Chris Pine’s new Prime Video movies All the Old Knives and The Contractor ask if streaming killed the action star

Chris Pine stars in All the Old Knives.Stefania Rosini / Courtesy of Amazon Studios

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All Old Knives

Directed by Yanus Mets

Written by I’m Steinhauer

Protagonist Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton and Laurence Fishburne

Classification R; 101 minutes

continuous flow Prime Video from April 8

The contractor

Directed by Tariq Saleh

Written by JP Davis

Protagonist Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Kiefer Sutherland

Classification R; 103 minutes

continuous flow Prime Video from April 29

Two new thrillers, both starring Chris Pine, both premiered live on Prime Video this month, mistakenly answer a question that has been on my mind for the past two years: What happened to the modern big-screen action star? ; The answer as provided by All Old Knives and The contractor: The action stars are still big – only the photos became small.

Maybe this “big” should be turned into a “big business” because obviously the public is screaming these types of movies if streamers are still paying for them. Or maybe giants like Prime Video are just picking up clippings (The contractor originally intended to open exclusively to theaters). Whatever the case, there is a new or perhaps recently refined formula for most thrillers other than Marvel /[insert intellectual property here] movie universe: recognizable star + familiar supporting players + shots + plot twists = $$$$;

In practice, this means a dual home account All Old Knives and The contractor will do two things for you: offer a decisively mediocre distraction night that will clear your mind as soon as you fall asleep and make you feel very bad about Chris Pine’s career.

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Thandiwe Newton and Chris Pine in All the Old Knives.Stefania Rosini / Courtesy of Amazon Studios

As one of the most intriguing, charismatic, and adventurous of the Four Hollywood Chrises (the others would be Hemsworth, Pratt, and Evans), Pine looks like a character trapped in the chipped trunk and flawless cheekbones of a Hollywood god. Every time Pine goes out of the protagonist’s comfort zone – or, rather, what the industry expects this zone to be – the guy scores: Smokin ‘Aces, Stretchof Netflix Wet hot american summer series.

Even the Miracle woman The films allowed Pine to proudly and arrogantly take on the role of assistant. The actor is obviously having a much better time letting Gal Gadot pull out the trumpets than he gains through the movements of the heroes in snooze-y The best hours and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. I keep a huge soft spot for Pine’s work on the restart Star Trek movies, but even there the star feels cramped, jealous of the ironic fun that Simon Pegg and Karl Urban co-stars seem to have on the sidelines.

Well: I’m glad Pine continues to work as a leader Journey businesses, and even an opportunity to immensely approach the glory of the Oscars, with Hell or High Water. But All Old Knives and The contractor to prove that the star currently has a small displacement. Both the decision of both films to bypass the big theatrical opening speaks of a change not only in the career of Pine, but also in the career of the modern Chrises and really every actor that the executives and the audience of the studio just a decade ago considered something for sure. Hollywood just does not know what to do with what was once the top selling point of an action movie: its protagonist.

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Of Pine’s two new projects, All Old Knives has at least the clear advantage. A slow spy story focusing on two CIA agents / ex-lovers (Pine and Thandiwe Newton) reuniting to repeat a failed mission long ago, Stab has quite expensive style, intense sex and wild inventions to hold your attention. Directed by Janus Metz (Borg vs. McEnroe) and written by Olen Steinhauer, who is adapting his own novel, the thriller is elegant and occasionally beautiful in the setting of Carmel-By-the-Sea. But all too often he tries to convince his audience that he is much smarter than he really is.

Chris Pine stars in The Contractor.Courtesy of STX Films / Amazon Prime Video

Those who have never seen a single spy movie can surrender to the third act of the movie, but even novices will point out the many holes in Steinhauer’s plot. The decent thing about a movie is that it’s no joke enough to distract Pine and Newton as professional pilots. But, again, the movie will evaporate from your mind the minute the titles roll.

The same – but much less – can be said for The contractor, a bad but not overly subtle look at America’s military-to-mercenary pipeline. Here, Payne reunites with his own Hell or High Water actor Ben Foster as a couple of ex-soldiers who want to keep their families alive in a country that no longer values ‚Äč‚Äčtheir service. The solution found by Pine’s hero: lucrative black-ops abroad for a shady suit headed by a more shady brain (played with terrifying roughness by Kiefer Sutherland).

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Since director Tarek Saleh’s film is not funded by Blackwater, you can guess where things are going: deception, death, revenge, all with a critique of the military-industrial complex that is too obvious to make a mark. While his character is destined to be lost and powerless, Pine seems to be lured in another way – a star without a proper star vehicle. It’s a backward blessing for both The contractor and All Old Knives they missed the movies – they were shown bigger, and the myriad movie deficits would have killed a shorter career.

However, not everything is lost on Pine: the actor has many promising productions ahead of him, including the popular science fiction thriller Do not worry darlingand Newsflash, in which he is going to play Walter Cronkite (!). These could end up streaming, but I highly doubt his upcoming fourth place Star Trek The film will follow this path, giving Pine’s name much more of a boost – and giving Chrises hope everywhere. But these days, you also never know.

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