IMDB’s top spy and secret agent movies list doesn’t include a single James Bond film. Find out if there are any further locations.
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In 1821, James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Spy introduced the concept of a spy thriller with the adventures of American secret agent Harvey Birch. As a result of Ian Fleming’s series of novels and short tales about the now-iconic gentleman spy, James Bond, who was first portrayed by Sean Connery in the early 1970s. In 1962, with the first Bond film, Dr. No, he wowed moviegoers with his quick wit, stylish attire, and British accent.
The MI6 agent does not rule IMDb’s top ten greatest spy flicks list, despite his widespread appeal and allure. You can choose from a wide variety of spy movies on this list, and we’ve added a few more to round out our selection to a total of 15 films.
Derek Draven updated this page on May 5th, 2020: This list has been amended to include a few more spy gems, who are all deserving of their places on the list. Pick one of these titles if you’re looking for espionage, mystery, and suspense!
1. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
The visual style and action sequences of the first three Mission: Impossible films were influenced by the individual ideas of their directors. After a mediocre third installment, the series was put on hold until Ghost Protocol was released in 2011. The franchise has a distinct vision from the beginning.
Successive M:I films have built on this formula to great effect. The Kremlin bombing was just the beginning for Ghost Protocol. The series’ popularity continues to grow, and star Tom Cruise has made it clear that he has no plans to leave the part anytime soon.
Steven Spielberg’s latest film, Munich, is based on the 1972 Munich massacre and portrays the narrative of Israel’s top-secret reprisal in the wake of the tragedy.
Israel authorizes a Mossad operation to track down and assassinate individuals responsible for the 1972 Summer Olympics massacre that resulted in the deaths of twelve Israelis (eleven athletes and their coach). With the help of a forger, a bomb-maker, an ex-soldier/driver team, Avner Kaufman is able to carry out this covert series of killings (played by none other than Daniel Craig).
Avner (and the viewer) are compelled to reevaluate their own morals and perhaps even the whole concept of justice in this well-crafted story.
3. Three Days of the Condor
Three Days of the Condor was released at a time when James Bond was all the rage, but its concentration on the CIA rather than MI6 is a refreshing change of pace. Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is an average CIA codebreaker who stumbles into a slaughter at his office. In addition to being responsible for the workplace deaths, his superiors at the CIA are now chasing him, which increases the strain.
It’s ironic that Robert Redford’s best-known picture, All the Presidents Men, came out one year after this film’s premiere, as it’s a fast-paced tale of survival and truth-seeking.
Because it’s based on a true event about the rescue of American hostages in Tehran in 1979, Argo stands out among spy flicks. Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA exfiltration specialist who leads a team of agents disguised as Canadian filmmakers into the center of the viper’s nest in this film.
Despite the fact that the spectator already knows the outcome of the story, the film is still hilarious, edgy, and nail-biting till the very end. In terms of acting, directing, and cinematography, Argo is an excellent spy thriller.
5. Kingsman: The Secret Service
The typical spy movie formula was starting to bore audiences in 2014, which is why filmmaker Matthew Vaughn cranked up the craziness in Kingsman: The Secret Service. The story revolves around a young youngster who is thrown into the training program of a top-secret spy agency and quickly becomes its star pupil.
Meanwhile, the Kingsmen are on the trail of a criminal tech genius who intends to wipe out the majority of the people using a sinister technology. The film’s most infamous moment is a grisly church massacre in which Colin Firth plays the titular grim reaper.
Daniel Craig, perhaps one of the best Bonds, stars in the second Bond film on the list. MI6 is openly assaulted after his last mission goes horribly wrong; with the entire agency compromised, M (Judi Dench) goes into hiding and seeks the only person she can trust – James Bond’s assistance.
Bond must stop Silva, the guy behind the attacks, and save M while following a hazy trail that reveals never-before-seen details about Bond’s turbulent history. Daniel Craig Bond flicks are known for their high stakes, and Skyfallis no exception. This 2012 blockbuster will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire two and a half hours it runs.
7. The Bourne Identity
When Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne is retrieved from the ocean with bullet wounds, he loses all of his memories. This is the first of five films in the series, The Bourne Identity.
Despite the fact that his mind is blank, Bourne’s muscle memory is intact, and he learns not only that he is a multilingual whiz but also that he is a formidable fighter who knows how to cope with hand-to-hand fighting and a gun with ease.
8. Casino Royale
Casino Royale, the first of Daniel Craig’s five Bond films, showed a darker side to the brand. Craig’s Bond is more of a soldier than any Bond before him, even if he still has a deadly fondness for booze and is still confident to the point of arrogance.
A terrorist financier known as Le Chiffre is discovered in Madagascar by 007, who has been awarded “00” status (and a license to kill). In what begins as a simple game of poker but quickly spirals out of control, MI6 sends Bond to the Casino Royale to take on Le Chiffre. Incredibly high stakes, terrific action sequences, a newer Aston Martin, and an all-around thrilling experience make this one of the best Bond flicks ever.
9. The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bourne Ultimatum, the third installment in the series, features a Jason Bourne who is still trying to piece together his history. The officials behind the illegal “Blackbriar” project are scrambling to clean house, dispatching multiple hitmen (all of whom have Bourne’s special set of skills) to snip the dangerously loose thread that is Jason Bourne. They are worried that the project will be exposed.
Throughout the film, Bourne’s investigation into his history is filled with high-octane action and shocking revelations about his origins. It’s one of the best spy movies ever made.
10. North By Northwest
This film is an oldie but a goodie, taking the usual premise of a spy movie and turning it on its head. It is Roger O. Thornhill, the head of an advertising business in New York City who is mistaken for a government agent and pursued by the vicious spy Phillip Vandamm in North By Northwest, rather than a besuited secret agent saving the world. The action sequences are some of the best ever seen in an espionage film.