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The 7 Best Spy Movies of All Time
When you hear the words spy and movies, it’s hard not to think of James Bond. In fact, you’re not alone in that sentiment because “007” has become the top third franchise in movie history, raking in over $5 billion. And with 24 movies in the collection and one in production, it’s safe to say those spy movies will always be hot.
But Bond isn’t the only master of cinematic espionage. In fact, there is a whole world out there of fascinating and diverse characters just waiting to be discovered. If you’re new to the genre, don’t worry about doing the research on the best spy movies – that’s what we’re here for!
Take a look at our list of the top seven spy movies below.
The Seven Best Spy Movies of All Time
No matter what type of movie you enjoy, most moviegoers can get on board with an action-packed thriller. Get that popcorn ready, or heck, get your cool spy gear ready too because you’re going to want to stream all seven of these classic spy movies.
7. The Bourne Identity (2002)
Matt Damon stars as Jason Bourne, a spy without any memory of his past. After being discovered on the brink of death by Mediterranean fisherman, Bourne, a former U.S. Army captain, searches for his identity by piecing together information he finds bit by bit.
Based on Robert Ludlum’s novel of the same name, the film was an instant success and catapulted Damon into mega-star status. The spy movie was such a success that it spawned four more movies: The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), The Bourne Legacy (2012), and Jason Bourne (2016).
6. The Third Man (1949)
Sharply shot and smartly written, director Carol Reed’s The Third Man was hailed by the British Film Institute as the “best British film of the 20th century.” Film noir is at its finest as the tense storyline unfolds after the war. When American writer, Holly Martins, travels to Vienna to see an old friend, he gets the shocking news of his passing.
Martins finds himself embroiled with controversy as he tries to put the pieces together and solve his suspicious death. Starring Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles, this Oscar-winning thriller is at the top of every spy movie lover’s list.
5. North by Northwest (1959)
North by Northwest is considered to be one of Alfred Hitchcock’s all-time classics and the quintessential spy movie of its time. Featuring an all-star cast, with Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason, this espionage thriller follows Grant’s character, advertising executive Roger O. Thornhill, though a fast-paced case of mistaken identity.
Because Thornhill is thought to be a spy by a foreign organization, he goes into hiding, trying to outsmart the bad guys. Not only does this movie highlight Hitchcock’s mastery of storytelling and suspense, but it is also considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time.
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
It’s a classic tale of revenge and redemption: When a young boy named Eggsy’s father dies, he’s forced to live with his mother and her abusive boyfriend. Fed up, Eggsy takes out his frustration on the abusive boyfriend’s friend and gets hauled off to jail. With nowhere to turn, he contacts a man named Harry, who had given him his number shortly after Eggsy’s father died.
From there, the story takes flight and Eggsy’s spy training ensues. The Kingsman: Secret Service combines dark humor and a stealthy pace for an all-out bloodbath in one of the most violent scenes in cinematic history. A stellar cast of Colin Firth, Samuel Jackson, and Taron Egerton make this a spectacular thrill-ride.
3. La Femme Nikita (1990)
Anne Parillaud shines in a stellar performance as the main character, Nikita, a teenager who avoids a death sentence in exchange for becoming an assassin. After extensive training, Nikita is transformed from a degenerate drug addict to a sophisticated spy and is sent out on several missions until her final one doesn’t go as planned.
Writer and director Luc Besson’s sleek and stylized action thriller won critical acclaim for its creating one of the top female spy characters in cinematic history. Although La Femme Nikita was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, Parillaud won Best Actress with the Cesar Award in 1991.
2. Mission Impossible (1996)
Director Brian De Palma brings the character of Ethan Hunt from the small screen to the big screen in this classic 1996 spy movie. Tom Cruise plays U.S. government operative Hunt, who went on a mission with his mentor, Jim Phelps, that backfired horrendously after Phelps was murdered.
The rapid-fire pace follows Hunt as he goes into hiding after being named the prime murder suspect. The excitement never stops in this Cruise produced movie based on the original 1966 – 1973 television series.
1. From Russia With Love (1963)
When it comes to classic spy movies, there is no denying James Bond is the master of espionage. Sean Connery brings a swagger and sophistication to Bond’s character, along with the brains, brawn, and mastery of assassin skills. Based on Ian Fleming’s 1957 book, the story follows Bond on a mission to Istanbul.
However, the mission gets derailed after an attempt to recover a decoder goes south. As SPECTRE seeks to avenge the death of its agent Dr. No, 007 is determined to outsmart them and goes into overdrive. Considered to be a commercial success, From Russia with Love was Connery’s second Bond role.
The Spies the Limit
Now that you’ve got the ultimate list of the best spy movies, you might want to invest in some fun gadgets. You never know when that Swiss Army knife might come in handy!
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