12 Greatest Spy Movies You Should Watch Again
Settle in for a trek into the exhilarating and dangerous world of cinematic espionage!
Spy Game (2001)
This is the movie where one handsome blonde movie star (Robert Redford) has to go rescue another handsome blonde movie star (Brad Pitt) in a thriller about CIA operatives and their dangerous adventures. Redford recruited Pitt back in the day and now the younger man finds himself in a world of hurt in a Chinese prison—and since he was captured during a non-official op for his girlfriend, the CIA plans to leave him there. Redford to the rescue! But it’s going to take some spy games to set Pitt free. Hold on to your seats!
No Way Out (1987)
Navy Lt. Tom Farrell (Kevin Costner) plays a game of cat-and-mouse with Defense Secretary David Brice (Gene Hackman) in this thriller about corruption and secrets. They both fall for Susan Atwell, played by Sean Young, and when Brice accidentally kills her, he tries to pin it on her secret lover—Farrell, who is actually a double agent spying on Atwell! This suspenseful drama is filled with government intrigue and surprise as the two men try to bring each other down.
The Bourne Identity (2002)
While Matt Damon’s career took off with Good Will Hunting, his role as Jason Bourne shot him to action star status. In this thriller, Bourne, a secret agent with amnesia, doesn’t remember how he ended up drifting in the ocean with a gunshot wound. But what he does know is how to memorize license plates, do ninja moves, and race a car through crowded city streets. Franka Potente joins Bourne in this thriller about figuring out who the bad guys are and what they want, while you search for your own identity.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Carly Simon sings the theme song, “Nobody Does It Better,” for this 007 movie starring Roger Moore as the infamous secret British agent. The plot is all about preventing the nuclear destruction of New York City and Moscow. The evil villain wants to destroy the world and start over in an Atlantis-type submerged city, but Bond puts a stop to that plan, with a little help from Barbara Bach as a KGB agent who has the same goal. They end up kissing by the end, of course. The flick also features Richard Kiel as “Jaws,” the silver-toothed thug who is after Bond.
From Russia with Love (1963)
Which James Bond actor is your favourite? This one stars Sean Connery as 007. It’s always complicated when you’re international spy agent James Bond. The villains are mad that Bond killed Dr. No in the previous film, so they’re determined to take him down. Bond’s got a collection of spies tailing him, and a few of them are beautiful women, of course. Look out for his briefcase filled with spy accessories and booby traps as he caravans across the globe outwitting the baddies.
In this Bond flick, Daniel Craig plays super-spy 007, as he tries to figure out what happened to another MI6 agent. Dame Judi Dench is back as M, the queen bee who runs the whole British spy organization. This time around, the problem is Silva (Javier Bardem). Silva used to be an MI6 agent, but he’s now seeking revenge (and wants M to pay) since he was abandoned during a bungled mission. He also happens to be a major hacker, wreaking havoc on the agency’s computers. But everything comes down to a stolen hard drive and Bond’s estate house where the two agents have their final showdown with M in tow.
True Lies (1994)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is at his campy best in this action comedy where he plays Henry Tasker, a regular family man who is actually a secret black ops agent. Things get stressful when his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) figures out what’s really going on. But then she too gets embroiled in the spy games, getting kidnapped. Don’t be too worried about her though because, as you’ll see by the end of the film the undercover activities manage to add a little zest to the marriage.
Bridge of Spies (2015)
In this acclaimed Steven Spielberg drama, Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, a lawyer in charge of a tense prisoner exchange with the Soviet Union. The U.S. needs to retrieve a pilot shot down on a spy mission, in addition to a grad student in Germany. The trade will be for Rudolf Abel, a KGB spy played by Mark Rylance. (He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his impressive performance.) Filled with edge-of-your-seat suspense and amazing performances, this is a first-rate spy thriller based on true events.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
The only thing more exciting than being a secret agent is finding out that you’re married to one. But that’s also totally dangerous—especially when you’re just trying to have a nice dinner at home and you discover your spouse’s weapon stash right as they’re trying to kill you. The former power couple had star-powered chemistry in this thriller that’s just as much about keeping secrets in a marriage as it is about doing undercover deeds. The now-divorced pair, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, are rumoured to have started their romance during filming.
Spy Kids (2001)
Dynamic visuals and an artsy sensibility make this action film a favourite for kids that can entertain parents too. Antonio Banderas plays Gregorio Cortez, a dad of a spy family, Carla Gugino’s the mom, Ingrid, and they’re up against a legion of bad guys in a crazy castle. When a bunch of thumb-headed robots (yep, you read that right!) come for the kids, they escape in a submarine and figure out they need to save their parents. Good thing they’re total naturals when it comes to spy craft.
Chris Cooper turns in a commanding performance as Robert Hanssen, a career FBI agent who may or may not be working as a Russian spy. Eric O’Neill (Ryan Phillippe) is a newbie agent assigned to work as his underling while secretly investigating him—but at first he doesn’t know why. Laura Linney plays Katherine “Kate” Burroughs, a career agent dedicated to truth and justice. This thriller will keep you on your toes with suspenseful reversals. You’ll find yourself rooting for Hanssen, then being sure of his guilt, then going back to denial—just like O’Neill. The elevator scene with the guilty agent at the end is devastating. Treason hurts the nation, but for those closest to you, it’s even worse.
The Conversation (1974)
Gene Hackman gives an amazing performance that channels paranoia and obsession in Francis Ford Coppola’s ode to surveillance techniques. The camera itself acts like a spy-cam in this movie about Harry Caul, a private investigator who’s an expert at bugging people. He’s so good at it, that he’s terrified someone is listening in on him. During the haunting ending, he tears his apartment apart looking for the bug. You’ll love this artsy classic that premiered just after the Watergate scandal and seemed to offer insight into surveillance, spying, and corruption.