I love watching movies. My all-time genre is spy/espionage thrillers. Some of the best spy movies have simple storyline but the way plot is tackled by the director makes the movie either a blockbuster or a box office dud. Spy movies come from the movie genres that revolves around:
- A Man/Woman in disguise on the mission;
- A thrilling concealed motives with suspense at every edge;
- Government agents coming up with nifty arrangements to rescue their country from an impending catastrophe;
The following is a nucleus of best spy movies, out of a hundred dozens of such captivating movies that will keep anyone on toes:
#1 Foreign Correspondent
A 1940 American Spy film produced by company Walter Wanger Productions and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
The plot focuses on the declaration of World War II during 1939. It revolves around a young American news reporter, John Jones (Joel McCrea), working under the editor of the New York Globe. He becomes a foreign correspondent in London and his first task is to meet a Dutch diplomat Mr. Van Meer and interview him during his peace lecture to know facts about the war declaration. Alongside, John also meets the leader of the Universal Peace Party organization, Mr. Stephen Fisher and his daughter Carol Fisher. Out of blue, Van Meer is assassinated in Amsterdam. Eventually, John along with Carol and the journalist Scott attempts to sneak to the bottom of the crime. Foreign Correspondent is one of the best spy movies to watch.
A 1946 American Spy film produced by company RKO Radio Pictures and directed by Alfred Hitchcock as well.
In 1946, while World War 2 is about to end, Alicia Huberman’s (Ingrid Bergman) father, a German Spy in the US has convicted imprisonment for 20 years for betrayal against the U.S. Later during conviction, her father commits suicide, thereby leaving Alicia with a tag name of “Daughter of the Notorious”. Taking the advantage of despaired Alicia, A U.S government agent Devlin allures Alicia to clear out the guilt from her heart. He recruits her to spy on a group led by rich businessman Alexander Sebastian. This group, operating out of Rio de Janeiro, consists of Nazi friends of her father and other German scientists. Alicia accepts the offer and soon starts developing a romance with Devlin while working with him. When on duty, Alicia gets friendly with Sebastian and their relationship reaches a point that Sebastian marries Alicia. Alicia further explores the mansion of Sebastian only to find a locked wine cellar. Secretly Alicia gets the key to the wine cellar from him. Further while on the investigation of the wine cellar, Devlin and Alicia find some uranium ore hidden in the wine bottles. Meanwhile, Sebastian notices the key missing. He goes to the wine cellar for more wine and finds Devlin and Alicia together. While the key of the wine cellar is returned overnight, Sebastian becomes suspicious of her and later identifies her as an American spy. Unknowing to her, Sebastian along with his mother starts poisoning Alicia day after day to eliminate her.
Also Read: Unforgettable Hitchcock Classics
#3 From Russia with Love
A 1963 British spy film and the second in the James Bond film series produced by Eon Productions. One of the best spy thrillers of all time, From Russia with Love is based on Ian Fleming’s 1957 novel named From Russia with Love.
In the film, James Bond 007 (Sean Connery) is on the mission to search a Russian decoding machine, known as Lektor. The evil SPECTRE organization has planned to steal a decoder that will access Russian state secrets. Bond needs to find this machine before the evil SPECTRE organization discovers it first. James Bond must confront enemies such as Red Grant and Rosa Klebb, to seize the device first. In the plot, Bond also romances a Soviet defector, only to realize later that he is lured into a deadly trap. Knowing the acts of conspiracy and the indulgence of a Russian beauty, Bond is all set to retrieve the stolen encryption device.
#4 IPCRESS File
A 1965 British espionage film produced by company Lowndes Productions and is based on Len Deighton’s novel named IPCRESS File.
Harry Palmer (Michael Caine), unusual counter-intelligence officer, and a British army sergeant is moved to another unit to work under Major Dalby. He is assigned the task of investigating the missing of several established scientists. The plot is about the path of Palmer to identify the person responsible for the kidnappings and brainwashing of the scientists.
#5 The Three Days of Condor
A 1975 American political thriller film produced by company Dino De Laurentiis Corporation.
Turner (Robert Redford), a CIA bookish researcher code-named Condor discovers all his co-workers murdered one fine noon. The plot is all about Turner trying to figure out and outsmart those responsible for the crime before they find and kill him. When, on the run and search for a hideout, he kidnaps a lonely woman, to shelter him. She later believes his story and helps him throughout his journey. The film was based on James Grady 1974 novel, Six Days of the Condor.
A 1991 American conspiracy-thriller film produced by Le Studio Canal, Regency Enterprises
Alcor Films. The movie is based on two books. One by Jim Garrison’s On the Trail of the Assassins and other Jim Marrs’s Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy. JFK is one of the best espionage movies.
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested and held guilty for the crime. The New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) speculates the events and alleged cover-up leading to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He conducts an investigation with the help of a confidential group of people. As a result, Garrison encounters the criticism from powerful government and political figures. Garrison files the conspiracy charges against New Orleans businessman upon the discovery of his alleged participation to assassinate the President, for which Lee Harvey Oswald was held responsible by the Warren Commission.
A 2002 science fiction American thriller spy film.
A global computer corporation, Digicorp offers a job as an industrial spy to a nerdy suburban man, Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam). Expecting an exciting life, he accepts the offer from the huge company. Digicorp assigns him the task of recording the speeches of various conventions around America. Later in the plot, Sullivan realizes that his job is the role of a spy to steal secrets from their competitors. During one of his travels, he meets a mysterious woman who enlightens him of the reality that his job slopes into a dark underworld.
#8 The Lives of Others
A 2007 German film produced by Wiedemann & Berg and Creado Films
The plot revolves around Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühes), a secret service officer with the East German secret Stasi police, Georg Dreyman, a successful dramatist and his longtime mate Christa-Maria, a popular actress. The Minister of Culture of East Germany becomes interested in Christa and treats Dreyman as a rival.The secret service agent Wiesler is instructed to observe The Minister, Dreyman, and Christa. The more the secret agent involves their lives, the more their life fascinates him positively.
#9 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
A 2011 English film Cold War espionage film produced by British company The Working Title Films and financed by France’s Studio Canal. This is one of best Hollywood movies and one of the best spy movies of all time.
The goal of this movie follows the hunt for a Soviet double agent spying the British secret service. In the dreary days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is pulled out of his retirement to uncover a Soviet agent. George Smiley meets an advisor to the Prime Minister on intelligence matters when evidence arises that Soviets have positioned a mole. Smiley unearths, a Russian spy who turns out to be one of the senior official working with his old agency from where Smiley was forced to retire. The movie is based on John le Carré’s 1974 novel named Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
#10 Ek Tha Tiger
A 2012 Indian action, romantic spy thriller film produced by company Yash Raj Films
The world of espionage and intelligence keeps all information confidential under the name of security and national classifieds. A handsome and mysterious man codenamed ‘Tiger’ in New Delhi is India’s top spy and a RAW officer. Tiger (Salman Khan) is on a mission of surveillance at Dublin and Ireland to keep a close eye on the activities of an Indian-origin scientist. The scientist is the prime suspect with a motive of sharing his experimental results of research with Pakistan’s defense institution. During the contemplation, Tiger engages with Zoya (Katrina Kaif), a home caretaker at Scientist’s residence. As Tiger and Zoya get closer, they fall in love. The plot takes the roller coaster rides that Tiger and Zoya etch through. On the other hand, the world of espionage prohibits its soldiers from falling in love.
#11 Zero Dark Thirty
A 2012 American political action thriller spy film produced by company First Light Productions and Annapurna Pictures.
The plot revolves around the hunt of the hideout of world-renowned Al-Qaeda Terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden. The CIA hires Maya (Jessica Chastain) in 1999 right after her graduation. She happens to solely work on the Al Qaeda files. After 2001 Sept 11 attacks, she is posted to Pakistan as an analyst in 2003 to work with interrogation team. She had immense knowledge of what Al-Qaeda was responsible for and hence she was asked to learn the tactics of torturous interrogation. Despite many setbacks and struggles that she faces during the job due to her age and inexperience, Maya keeps moving and changes the way the things work around. After a decade, in 2011, the U.S. Navy SEAL Team follow the leads of Maya and finally kill the terrorist leader of Al-Qaeda Osama.
A 2013 Indian spy thriller Bollywood action film produced by the company Emmay Entertainment Private Limited teamed up with DARR motion pictures.
In search of Most Wanted Man in India, A team of experts comprising of a suspended army officer, a RAW explosive specialist, a petty street thief joined with RAW agent Wali Khan (Irrfan Khan) to discover the activities carried out by the Most Wanted Man. This man sheltered in Pakistan would break all ISI security protocols to attend his own son’s wedding. When the team was executing the plan to bring back the man to India from Pakistan to face justice, things took a sudden twist just before 24 hours. The plan faced the failure and the team carried out the most daring operation.
#13 The November Man
A 2014 British-American action spy thriller film produced by Irish DreamTime, SPD Films and Envision Entertainment. The movie is based on Bill Granger’s novel, There are no spies.
Natalia, the assistant of the Russian candidate for President Arkady Federov. collects the pieces of evidence of Chechen war crimes that stand against the Russian candidate. Former CIA chief John Hanley assigns the task of extracting Natalia from the hands of Russia to former CIA Agent Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan). Unfortunately, Current CIA chief Perry Weinstein orders CIA Agent David Mason to kill Natalia as she is captured by Russians.Later in the plot, before dying, Natalia hands over the evidence to Peter and asks him to meet Mira Filipova to uncover the secret facts. In order to get to Mira, Peter rushes to Belgrade, where he saves a social worker and acquaintance of Mira Filipova, Alice Fournier from the death trap from their US Agents. Peter Devereaux uncovers dangerous secrets about the President Arkady Federov. In the end, Peter and Alice join to save their lives and expose the crimes to the world.
#14 The Catcher Was a Spy
A 2018 American spy film produced by Windy Hill Productions and PalmStar media. It is based on Nicholas Dawidoff ‘s novel named The Catcher Was a Spy
The Catcher Was a Spy is a biographical spy thriller where a former baseball player (played by Paul Rudd) joins the war effort during World War II, thereby contributing to espionage for the U.S. Government.
#15 Red Sparrow
A 2018 American spy film produced by company Chernin Entertainment.
It is the story of a young Russian intelligence officer, Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence). She is recruited by ‘Sparrow School’ a Russian intelligence service. A master of manipulative and seductive combat, her mission is to use her body and mind as a weapon targeting a CIA agent, who threatens to disentangle the sensitive security matters of both nations.The plot showcases the collision of CIA Agent and the Russian intelligent officer under the circumstances of trade-craft and deception.
To sum up, Sit back, relax and pick one of the aforesaid movies to watch from varieties of spy thriller movies such as Hollywood, British, German and Indian. Wear yourself the hat of a detective and enjoy the maze of interlinked motives.