It is really awesome to watch a good espionage flick. These movies are truly over the top, but more entertaining than anything. Here are some of the top spy movies you will love to watch.
A couple of second-generation spies (Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara) are the focus of Robert Rodriguez’s charming kids’ film. The scheme of a dastardly supervillain/children’s show host played by Alan Cumming forces them to follow in their parents’ footsteps. A big part of the appeal is the wild and unorthodox designs and lame special effects. There were three sequels and a cartoon series following, but the original has become a classic.
Burn After Reading
Nobody explores the monsters behind civilized humanity with the wit and cynicism that the Coen brothers do. Burn After Reading shows what happens when social contracts fail. This razor-sharp satire from 2008 features all the technical excellence we’ve come to expect from Joel and Ethan Coen’s films — flawless casting, whip-smart writing, and a tone that’s just a half-click shy of tragic. There is a spy movie in Burn After Reading just as there is a detective movie in The Big Lebowski, which means that Coen’s clever comedies deftly slip between genre labels while paying homage to those very genres they avoid. A mock spy film colored with farce, Burn After Reading is shot and edited like a classic paranoiac spy thriller.
Though billed as a two-hander with Brad Pitt, Spy Game is really Robert Redford’s show. He returns to the genre in a fine performance. It explores the mentor-mentee relationship between Nathan Muir (Redford) and Tom Bishop (Pitt); one on the brink of retirement, the other about to be executed. When Muir learns that the agency is about to write Bishop off as a lost asset, he embarks on a long-distance covert rescue mission under the nose of his superiors. As we follow Muir over a 24-hour period, Redford’s character reveals a mysterious blend of cunning and loyalty. As his protege has his life cut short, Muir lies, schemes, and manipulates. Redford channels his elegant skill as a leading man and makes it a blast, and some of the film’s most enjoyable moments come when Muir deftly obfuscates answers while his superiors grill him about his activities. The film, in addition to Redford’s outstanding performance, blends classic genre components with Tony Scott’s trademark zeal for explosive action and restless editing.
The Red Sparrow is a shockingly grim film made on a sizable studio budget with a star-studded cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, and freaking Charlotte Rampling. Don’t expect an action-packed romp about a super spy. Red Sparrow is a darker, more dangerous film about surviving sexual assault. Lawrence is, as always, brilliant in the role, bringing the pulpier elements of the story to life within a character so completely realized and compelling that you can’t help but marvel at her strength. The film’s smart direction by Francis Lawrence, who directed the last three Hunger Games films, wisely steers away from exploitative content in the midst of its twisted plot. Although it didn’t get enough attention in theaters, Red Sparrow is a film that will hold up well through the ages thanks to its unusual story and beautiful technical elements.
The film Munich follows a team of spies and assassins seeking revenge for the death of their countrymen. While Spielberg’s film is an homage to true events, it tells deeper truths with a cinematic flair by partly fictionalizing the tale based on a true story. Despite the team’s best efforts to eliminate the terrorists one by one, they are always replaced. Each death only opens the way for new, more dangerous terrorists. Each act of violence is followed by a new death. Thus, the question becomes, What is gained? What have we lost? It feels a bit diminutive to call Munich a spy film, but it also feels wrong to leave it off the list. The film explores espionage in a unique context, while showcasing excellent action set pieces, but the heart of Munich lies in its human story of revenge and humanity.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tinker Tailor Soidier Spy is a gorgeous, intricate drama directed by Thomas Alfredson, the atmospheric filmmaker behind Let The Right One In (and, in a devastating blow, The Snowman). With an ensemble cast so exceptional that an actor of Ciaran Hinds’ caliber becomes an extra, Tinker Tailor offers a more old fashioned approach to spycraft, involving tense hand-wringing sequences of manipulation and battles of wits. In times before modern technology, our most intimate secrets could still be kept, milking scenes of traded documents and personal secrecy for tension and heartbreak. The film is a beautiful investigation into the dehumanizing cost of bureaucratic espionage, and the loneliness and mental breakdown that come with a deceitful life lived under constant scrutiny. The film is a slow-burn that asks a lot of the viewer but rewards it tenfold.
Following up on his Oscar-winning work on Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee returned to China for this sweeping, heartbreaking epic Lust, Caution. The romantic epic travels back to Shanghai during the Japanese occupation of World War II when we meet Mr. Yee (Tony Leung Chiu), leader of the local secret police who tortures resistance members for information. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that certain parties want him dead, and they recruit a young actress, Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei), to seduce Yee and assist in his murder. With stakes laid, Lust, Caution plays out like a prestige spy drama, with lavish period costuming and gorgeous cinematography, but after an explicit and extreme act of violence, the film becomes something else, something harder to pin down. Lust, Caution explores Yee and Wong’s passionate, sometimes violent romance in an unflinching character study that uncovers an unconventional and questionable relationship in all its facets. A beautiful film about love and secrets entangled up in the affairs of wartime spies, that will get your heart racing before ultimately breaking it.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
With the zany, sharply shot 2002 spy comedy Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, George Clooney made his directorial debut. This film follows the insane (supposedly) true story of Chuck Barris, creator of The Gong Show and The Dating Game, who claims to have been a CIA spy assassinating 33 people. This tale is approached with considerable skepticism by Clooney and Kaufman, recognizing it as self-fiction and transforming it into a character study about living a double life… Perhaps delusions of grandeur. As Barris, Sam Rockwell leans into the ridiculousness of his tales but keeps them grounded with harrowing emotion. George Clooney plays the CIA agent who recruits Barris into spycraft, Drew Barrymore plays his wife Penny, and Julia Roberts plays a mysterious, seductive operative with her own motives. The film’s cinematographer, Newton Thomas Sigel, creates a beautiful set of contrasts between the warm oranges of Hollywood and the chilly, blues of Chuck’s espionage career.