Listing the greatest spy movies since 2002's The Bourne Identity, making this more of a list of the 21st Century's greatest spy moviesSpy movies have been around for as long as the movie business, and for the entirety of this time it has been changing with every decade that passes with the sub genre getting better with every new spy flick release.
The 20th Century is jam-packed with cheesy spy movies, mostly Bond movies, but that isn't to say that they weren't entertaining, as for a fact, Bond movies have become a British national treasure.
In the cross-over from the 20th Century to the 21st Century, we saw in the early 2000's a new spy movie, focusing on a loose CIA agent being hunted down by the CIA and local law enforcement (wherever he goes), The Bourne Identity, which rivals Bond for the spot as the number one spy series of all time. That of course being due to "The Bourne" seeing multiple sequels since the original was released back in 2002, making it a near perfect fitting for the starting point for our list.
Today's spy movies are more thrilling, more realistic, and more commercially credible than they have ever been before, which is why we have decided to honour them by creating a list of the 7 best, along with 3 honourable mentions.The list is as follows.
The 7 Greatest Spy Movies Countdown
7. Hanna (2011)
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This isn't your typical spy movie, although based around the usual shenanigans of the CIA with a loose project on their hands that they want to terminate before it can cause the agency any embarrassment.
This isn't your typical spy movie as it follows the amazing abilities of a young teenage girl who seemingly is just your normal teenage girl, that is until you see her kill like a well-trained professional assassin and escape difficult, near impossible situations like a well-trained professional assassin. Hence, its unusualness as a spy movie.
This may sound like an odd choice for a spy, but as this young teenage assassin's past unveils and truths are spilled later in the story's foretelling, it all begins to make sense, and surprisingly enough you'll want to watch the movie for a second time just to make sure that you understood all that had happened.
6. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
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An interesting look into British espionage during the cold war, which had me on the edge of my seat for the entire duration of the movie. This surprisingly very rarely happens in all of my time watching movies.
This is the type of spy movie that has subtle spurts of humour which you'll either appreciate or lack to see, but if you do meet the humour with welcome arms then this will layer the enjoyment throughout the movie, as it did for myself.
Although, clearly not a comedy, as the movie edges into extreme suspense and mystery as the plot thickens and clues are thrown at you with every turn. A well-mastered movie, which was truly helped by strong acting performances from Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Mark Strong and other key cast members in this must-see spy, mystery, thriller.
5. In Bruges (2008)
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Martin McDonagh has produced a masterpiece with his directorial movie début of "In Bruges", as it is one of the funniest comedies ever produced, as well as subsequently being one of the best spy movies ever produced.
The dialogue, the acting performances, the flow from scene-to-scene, none of it can be faulted. The very fact alone that there were not a whole lot of key cast members in this feature film should make it a little concerning, but in seeing the movie it becomes clear that this was a deliberate effort that makes the movie such an ingenious creation.
The key actors; Colin Farrell (finally using his Irish accent), Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes were all perfectly cast for their roles in this instant comedy, spy classic. This is one movie that once seeing it, will make you ask yourself why you hadn't thought to watch it before.
4. Skyfall (2012)
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After "Quantum of Solace" no-one was quite sure what to expect as it put the bar so low, Bond fans were simply hoping for a Bond movie that wouldn't leave them staring at their watches every 10 minutes.
Thankfully, the sequel to the Bond movie ("Quantum of Solace") that left us all questioning the future of the Bond franchise, was more than anyone could have ever asked for. The direction was clear, the acting performances were intense, the storyline was gripping, and best of all we finally had a Bond villain worthy of the title.
Little to say, the movie grossed worldwide more than a billion dollars, the villain was unforgettable, Daniel Craig reprised his role as Bond, and the storyline was the best that we have seen so far from a Bond movie.
3. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
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Just when you thought a Bourne movie couldn't get any better, The Bourne Identity received a sequel that followed straight-on from where the first left off and their was more action, more car chases, and we saw more of Jason Bourne avoiding capture (and death) from the CIA.
(Spoiler ahead) Marie is killed and this turned out to be a key reason for the movies intense excitement and adrenaline rushing intensity, as it was due to her death that Bourne was left with nothing to lose, enabling him to act in a more ruthless manor where before he couldn't risk death quite as often because of Marie.
Karl Urban, playing the assassin on the hunt to kill Jason Bourne was a brilliant addition to the sequel, because he had the ruthless feel of a professional assassin that gets the job done, no matter what the outcome.
An important development to the sequel which begs to be mentioned is the change in directors from Doug Liman (directed The Bourne Identity) to Paul Greengrass for the directing of The Bourne Supremacy is that Greengrass was capable of taking the events and directing style of Liman and keep the flow going, and the intensity of the quick pace from the first to produce a great sequel.
2. Taken (2008)
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When a retired CIA agent's daughter is kidnapped in a foreign country by traffickers, he must use his specific set of skills to get her back in this fast-paced movie proving the love that a father has for his child and the lengths that he will go to in order to get them back (helped by the fact that he has the skills of a CIA super-spy).
A heart-wrenching storyline which is expertly pulled-off by the directorial efforts of Pierre Morel, who brings the whole movie to life. Supported by the expert acting performance from Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills, the ex-CIA agent in pursuit of his daughters captors.
This is a spy movie which was overlooked by the majority of potential audiences on its release into movie theatres, due to most people being unaware of its raw magnitude as a spy movie. That being said it did gross worldwide $227 million on a $25 million production budget, but it would hardly be surprising that had potential audiences known of how great that the movie was going to be that it could have had a worldwide gross surpassing the $500 million mark.
1. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
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Again, following straight where the previous instalment led-off, "The Bourne Ultimatum" is the sequel to "The Bourne Supremacy", once again directed by Paul Greengrass who seems to be getting better with every Bourne release, as this third Bourne instalment has to be the best so-far.
Matt Damon has matured as the Jason Bourne character, Greengrass has taken the series to a new level, and the entire movie screamed impressive from the very moment the first scene began.
The most exciting part about "The Bourne Ultimatum" for myself is that it signified that the Bourne series was the first spy series that could rival the Bond franchise, leaving each of them fighting for audiences' undivided attention.
The Bourne Ultimatum exceeded our expectations for as to what could be achieved with a single spy movie, in turn taking the Bourne series to a whole new level, proving that it wasn't going to recycle old rubbish done in previous spy movies, but instead go in its own direction. On top of that also staying true to the Bourne books which were written by Robert Ludlum, which is the real reason that we have the Bourne movie series out to view today.
- Casino Royale (2006)
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The first Bond instalment to star Daniel Craig as James Bond, and what a Bond movie that it was, taking the Bond movies for the first time in a serious, 21st century direction. A great Bond movie, however, it did lack excitement at times as it felt a little slow going- here and there, which is why it didn't make the cut for the greatest spy movies list.
However, it does receive an honourable mention, if nothing else, for taking the Bond movies in a serious direction for the first time.
- Red (2010)
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As far as action, comedies go this is a pretty great movie, especially since it focused on the spy elements that we all love so much, that of course in this case being the CIA.
Bruce Willis does his usual, playing the serious, down to earth ex-CIA agent which is likeable in every way possible, then there's John Malkovich who plays an extremely funny ex-CIA agent who seems to be a little nervous in gun fights, Morgan Freeman once again doing his usual, and some other impressive cast members.
Ignoring the cast members, the story is brilliant, however, it does feel a little recycled, but that's soon forgotten after all of the hilarious moments which make up the entire movie. This is one Bruce Willis movie which you are going to like.
- Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
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Another Doug Liman (also directed The Bourne Identity) movie to make it onto our list, even if it's only the honourable mentions, as this movie took something which could have wound up being a typical spy movie, but winds up being an original romantic, comedy, action, spy movie which you'll have to laugh at.
The chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (the two key cast members) makes the movies all the more believable, mixed with Vince Vaughn's fairly small, yet equally as important role as the idiotic (but brilliantly funny) best friend and co-worker of John Smith (Brad Pitt's character).
Do you agree with our list? Are there any movies that we have missed from the list? Leave your answer in the comments box below.