100 Best spy movies of all time – KAKE

100 best spy movies of all time

Since the silent era of film, spy films have been offering up a certain kind of escapism for movie-going audiences. Developing from the literary genre as early as the late 1800s, the first true piece of spy literature was a serial entitled The Great War in 1897 by William Le Queux. The success of the serial inspiredvarious other authors, such as Rudyard Kipling, to venture into this new written territory. From the success of the written works, spy films began as simple reenactments of real-life events in war, and increasing international tensions in the early 20th century laid the groundwork for the spy genre to become particularly successful, peak with World War I, then reach a lull.

Of course, spy films eventually saw a revival with the Nazi scourge in the 1940s, and these Nazi espionage films led to the classic Bond films, paving the way for modern blockbuster features like the Mission Impossible and Bourne series that many know and love today (although, the Mission Impossible series was actually borne out of a 1960s television series of the same name). And nowadays, the mystery, action, and thrills of spy movies can cross more genres; from comedies, to fantasy films, to biopics and superhero flicks, the excitement of espionage on the silver screen is not limited to solely the spy genre itself.

So, Stacker compiled data on all spy movies to come up with a Stacker scorea weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores. To qualify, the film had to have a Metascore and have at least 2,500 votes. Ties were broken by Metascore and further ties were broken by IMDb user rating. Every film on the list has been considered according to the cinematic history and development of spy movies. Starting at number 100, here are the best spy movies of all time.

#100. Body of Lies (2008)

- Director: Ridley Scott- Stacker score: 71- Metascore: 57- IMDb user rating: 7.1- Runtime: 128 min

In a plot to lure and capture a dangerous terrorist, aCIA agent crafts a fake terrorist organization, as he collaborates with a master strategist, all while keeping his actions hidden from the head of Jordanian intelligence. The action-thriller is based on author David Ignatiuss novel of the same name.

- Director: Phillip Noyce- Stacker score: 71- Metascore: 65- IMDb user rating: 6.4- Runtime: 100 min

A veteran CIA officer is accused of being a Russian spy and is forced to go on the run, using her years of training and experience to elude those on her tail. But in her efforts to prove herself innocent, she further implicates herself, causing her to question her own identity. The Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw praised the film as being pacy, smart, subversive and knocked out with such verve and attack that you're not in the least bit bothered by how far-fetched it all is.

Les Productions Artistes Associs

- Director: Lewis Gilbert- Stacker score: 71- Metascore: 66- IMDb user rating: 6.3- Runtime: 126 min

The 11th James Bond installment sends 007 into space, as he investigates the seizing of an American space shuttle. This leads him and his beautiful CIA agent accomplice to the shuttles owner, a mysterious man with a villainous plan for the world at large. The studio originally intended to film an adaptation of Ian Flemings Bondnovel For Your Eyes Only next, but ended up choosing Moonraker due to the success of Star Wars.

#97. Never Say Never Again (1983)

- Director: Irvin Kershner- Stacker score: 71- Metascore: 68- IMDb user rating: 6.1- Runtime: 134 min

Though an uncharacteristic mishap during routine training exercise at first brings M to believe 007 is finally past his prime, James Bond is once again forced to tussle with the nefarious criminal organization SPECTRE, when a group of its members steals nuclear missiles from the U.S. military. This was the last film in a seven-film run as Bond for actor Sean Connery.

#96. Shadow Dancer (2012)

- Director: James Marsh- Stacker score: 71- Metascore: 69- IMDb user rating: 6.0- Runtime: 101 min

When an IRA member is arrested after a failed terrorist attack in 1990s Belfast, she must choose between spying on her comrades for the government, or being sent to prison and leavingher young son. Andrea Riseborough was praised in particular for her leading performance, as described by critic Walter Addiego: The film would not work nearly as well without Riseborough's fine performance. Collette is compelled to adopt an impassive mask, but the depths of sadness and pain she endures are unmistakable.

- Director: John Glen- Stacker score: 71- Metascore: 63- IMDb user rating: 6.6- Runtime: 131 min

The 13th film in the James Bond saga, this installment sees 007 attempting to solve the murder of agent 009, killed mysteriously while holding a fake Faberge egg in East Germany. The trail leads our secret agent to India and a traveling circusor is it a cover for something else? Though the plot of the film is original, the title (which also serves as the name of Maud Adamss character) comes from a short story in a collection from Bond author Ian Fleming, entitled Octopussy and the Living Daylights.

#94. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

- Director: Guy Ritchie- Stacker score: 71- Metascore: 56- IMDb user rating: 7.3- Runtime: 116 min

Based on the 1964 television show of the same name, this Guy Ritchie film stars Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill as a KGB agent and a CIA agent, respectively, forced to work together in order to stop a secretive criminal organization from using nuclear weapons to purposefully disrupt tensions during the Cold War. A sequel is currently in the works, the prospect of which excited critic James Berardinelli, who wrote in his review that is one of those rare instances when a sequel wouldn't just be warrantedit would be welcomed.

#93. The Informant! (2009)

- Director: Steven Soderbergh- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 66- IMDb user rating: 6.4- Runtime: 108 min

When a star employee at an agricultural corporation suddenly decides to become a whistleblower to the FBI for the companys price-fixing schemes, his own secrets, schemes, and instabilities derail histattle-taling heroism. The film is based on the true story of business executive Mark Whitacre, whose exploits were detailed in the 2000 book of the same name by Kurt Eichenwald.

#92. The Eagle Has Landed (1976)

- Director: John Sturges- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 61- IMDb user rating: 6.9- Runtime: 123 min

This World War II film follows a group of Nazis scheming to kidnap Britains prime minister, who disguisethemselves as Polish paratroopers in England in order to do so. An all-star cast of Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, and Donald Pleasence lead this film adaptation of the suspense novel of the same name by Jack Higgins.

#91. Atomic Blonde (2017)

- Director: David Leitch- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 63- IMDb user rating: 6.7- Runtime: 115 min

The MI6s most elite spy travels to Berlin, mere days before the fall of the Berlin Wall, to investigate the murder of one of her own and retrieve an important dossier, all while taking down a ring of ruthless double agents. Starring Charlize Theron as the seductive and deadly Lorraine Broughton, the actress performed all of her own brutal stunts which required two months of five-hour-a-day training.

#90. Until the End of the World (1991)

- Director: Wim Wenders- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 63- IMDb user rating: 6.7- Runtime: 158 min

A man on the run for stealing the prototype of a secret scientific project gets wrapped up with a woman named Claire, who joins the hunt across Europe for the mysterious Sam after he continues to double-cross her. The film was poorly received by critics and the box office alike upon initial release, but has since seen a reappraisal, especially with its nearly five-hour-long cut restored in 4K and released in 2014. Critic Sam Weisbergreflected on the extended cut,writing, before, one left the theater befuddled; one now leaves the theater equally befuddled but also moved, even genuinely disturbed.

#89. You Only Live Twice (1967)

- Director: Lewis Gilbert- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 61- IMDb user rating: 6.9- Runtime: 117 min

The fifth James Bondfeature follows the famous MI6 agent, played by Sean Connery, as he travels to Japan. There, he investigates a mysterious spacecraft that has captured space capsules from Russia and Americaseemingly, in an attempt to bring the two countries to war. The screenplay was written by acclaimed childrens author Roald Dahl, who wrote such beloved tales as Fantastic Mr. Fox and The BFG.

#88. Cloak & Dagger (1984)

- Director: Richard Franklin- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 64- IMDb user rating: 6.6- Runtime: 101 min

A neglected11-year-old boy finds solace in video games and his imaginary frienda secret agent, who comes in handy when the boy accidentally gets his hands on some real-life spy intel and is forced to go on the run. The film is the second cinematic adaptation of Cornell Woolrichs short story The Boy Who Cried Murder, the first being 1949s The Window, directed by Ted Tetzlaff.

#87. The Fourth Protocol (1987)

- Director: John Mackenzie- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 64- IMDb user rating: 6.6- Runtime: 119 min

A recently demoted British spy, played by Michael Caine, accidentally uncovers a plot by a KGB agent to build and detonate a bomb in England and blame it on Americans. Now, he requires the help of superiors he is still at odds with in order to stop the plot. The film is based on the Frederick Forsyth novel of the same name, and was praised by Roger Ebert as being first-rate.

- Director: Robert Schwentke- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 60- IMDb user rating: 7.0- Runtime: 111 min

A retired CIA agent returns to the fold after an attempt on his life by a group of hit men, reassembling his old team and uncovering a massive, life-threatening conspiracy. The film is loosely based on the comic book series of the same name, and received a nomination for Best Musical or Comedy Film at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

#85. Mission: Impossible (1996)

- Director: Brian De Palma- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 59- IMDb user rating: 7.1- Runtime: 110 min

The first installment in the classic Tom Cruise-led action spy series sees his character, Ethan Hunt, accused of the murder of his own mentor as he becomes a fugitive and is forced to break into a CIA building in order to retrieve a document that proves his innocence. It was the only Mission Impossible film to be directed by the legendaryBrian De Palma, and was universally loathed by the original TV shows cast, despite the films success.

- Director: Oliver Stone- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 58- IMDb user rating: 7.3- Runtime: 134 min

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the titular CIA whistleblower, the film tracks Snowdens path from a top computer security expertto exposing the governments plans to track digital communication of American citizens. Along with Gordon-Levitt, the film features an ensemble cast including Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, and Lakeith Stanfield. Critic Peter Bradshaw described the film as a tense, taut drama with heart-stopping moments.

- Director: Robert Zemeckis- Stacker score: 72- Metascore: 60- IMDb user rating: 7.1- Runtime: 124 min

During a mission in Casablanca in 1942, two undercover World War II operatives meet and fall in love, hoping to start a new life togetherbut their plans are tested by the war. The film stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as the leading lovebirds, and was praised by critic Sam Adams as being technically immaculate from stem to stern.

- Director: Richard Shepard- Stacker score: 73- Metascore: 65- IMDb user rating: 6.7- Runtime: 96 min

When traveling salesman Danny meets contract killer Julian at a dive bar in Mexico, the two become friends and form an unlikely bondbut when Julian, desperate, shows up at Dannys house months later asking for help, the two of them are flung into a series of events that changes their lives. Pierce Brosnan was praised for his performance as Julian, nominated for a Saturn Award and a Golden Globe.

#81. Michael Collins (1996)

- Director: Neil Jordan- Stacker score: 73- Metascore: 60- IMDb user rating: 7.2- Runtime: 133 min

Based on the titular real-life Irish revolutionary and patriot, the film centers onMichael Collins leading the Irish Republican Army in its battle for the countrys independence from Britainuntil fear forces him to negotiate with the enemy. The film received two Academy Award nominations, for Best Cinematography and Best Original Dramatic Score, and lead actor Liam Neeson was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama.

#80. Eye of the Needle (1981)

- Director: Richard Marquand- Stacker score: 73- Metascore: 61- IMDb user rating: 7.1- Runtime: 112 min

Donald Sutherland stars as a German spy, whos just retrieved information while undercover for Hitler on Britains D-Day plans. On his way home from England, however, he becomes stranded on an island with a womanand her disabled husbandwho begins to fall for this ruthless enemy. Roger Ebert wrote that he admired the movie noting that it was made with quiet confidence.

#79. Horror Express (1972)

- Director: Eugenio Martn- Stacker score: 73- Metascore: 68- IMDb user rating: 6.5- Runtime: 88 min

A British anthropologist aboard the Trans-Siberian Express with his newest specimen unwittingly becomes a part of a mysterious conspiracy, as his travel from Chinaback home to Europe is plagued by passengers turning up dead. The film was led by performances from famous horror actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and was made on a low budget of only $300,000.

#78. Patriot Games (1992)

- Director: Phillip Noyce- Stacker score: 73- Metascore: 64- IMDb user rating: 6.9- Runtime: 117 min

A sequel to the film The Hunt for Red October, Harrison Ford takes over for Alec Baldwin as CIA agent Jack Ryan, whose interference with an IRA assassination causes him and his family to be targeted by one of the terrorists who committed the attack. Both films are adaptations of the popular Tom Clancy novels.

#77. OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006)

- Director: Michel Hazanavicius- Stacker score: 73- Metascore: 62- IMDb user rating: 7.1- Runtime: 99 min

This French parody of spy films stars Jean Dujardin as the titular OSS 117, who is tasked with investigating the disappearance of a fellow agent and humorously uncovers an entire international conspiracywhile undercover as a wholesale chicken company head. Though the film is based on Jean Bruces serious OSS 117 novel series, the story is adapted as a comedy.

#76. The Front Line (2011)

- Director: Jang Hoon- Stacker score: 73- Metascore: 59- IMDb user rating: 7.4- Runtime: 133 min

This cinematic account of the Korean War depicts the final battle between the North and the South, as a ceasefire has been declared but the border between the nations has yet to be determined. Though it didnt end up making the shortlist, South Korea selected the film as its submission for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Critic V.A. Musetto described the film as a potent anti-war movie with breathtaking battle sequences.

- Director: Terence Young- Stacker score: 74- Metascore: 64- IMDb user rating: 7.0- Runtime: 130 min

The fourth film in the Bondseries follows 007 as he travels to the beautiful Bahamas, sent to retrieve a couple of stolen nuclear warheads from the terrorist group SPECTRE, which isthreatening to detonate if they dont receive 100 million pounds in diamonds. The film received positive reviews but was at the center of an infamous, 50-year-long legal dispute between author Ian Fleming and producer Kevin McClory.

#74. The Hunt for Red October (1990)

- Director: John McTiernan- Stacker score: 74- Metascore: 58- IMDb user rating: 7.6- Runtime: 135 min

An adaptation of the eponymous Tom Clancy novel, Sean Connery stars as Marko Ramius, the captain of a Soviet submarine named Red October who abandons his directive and heads to America, where CIA agent Jack Ryan fears Raimus may have something underhanded planned for the country. The film was the first in a series starring Clancys Jack Ryan character.

- Director: Tony Scott- Stacker score: 74- Metascore: 63- IMDb user rating: 7.1- Runtime: 126 min

Robert Redford and Brad Pitt star in this action thriller concerning a CIA operative just about to retire,who discovers that, not only has his protege been taken prisoner in China, but that he has been sentenced to die and the CIA is considering allowing it. Critic Peter Canavase called it a neatly plotted espionage thriller.

#72. Mission: Impossible III (2006)

- Director: J.J. Abrams- Stacker score: 75- Metascore: 66- IMDb user rating: 6.9- Runtime: 126 min

From sci-fi director J.J. Abrams, the third Mission Impossible installment follows agent Ethan Hunt, who has retired from active duty, until a ruthless arms dealer emerges as a major threat and he must protect his girlfriend, Julia. At the time, the film was the most well-received of the Mission Impossible movies, and was the feature directorial debut for Abrams.

#71. Despicable Me 2 (2013)

- Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud- Stacker score: 75- Metascore: 62- IMDb user rating: 7.3- Runtime: 98 min

Supervillain Gru and his squad of minions abandon their life of crime, in this sequel to the well-received family film. As Gru struggles to raise his three adoptive daughters Agnes, Edith, and Margo, he is called upon by the Anti-Villain League to stop the heist of an emerging new supervillain. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers praised the film as being irresistible fun.

- Director: James Cameron- Stacker score: 75- Metascore: 63- IMDb user rating: 7.2- Runtime: 141 min

Unbeknownst to his family,salesman Harry Taskeris an undercover operative for the U.S. government, and is forced to fix his strained marriage while saving his wife and himself from an Islamic jihadist. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, the movie was an awards winner. Curtis nabbed Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes along with Best Actress at the Saturn Awards. Director James Cameron also won a Saturn Award for Best Director.

#69. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)

- Director: Carl Reiner- Stacker score: 75- Metascore: 67- IMDb user rating: 6.9- Runtime: 88 min

This parody of noir films follows Steve Martin as a detective hired to investigate the freak death of a famous cheese maker, whose daughter believes he was murdered over his enviable recipes. The film incorporates clips from various classic films with various famous actors, weaving themtogether as part of a brand-new story.

#68. The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)

- Director: John Schlesinger- Stacker score: 75- Metascore: 68- IMDb user rating: 6.8- Runtime: 131 min

A recent hire for the CIA becomes disillusioned after seeing a less admirable side of the American government, and he decides to sell the documents he finds to the Russians in a half-baked scheme. The film is an adaptation of the book The Falcon and the Snowman: A True Story of Friendship and Espionage by Robert Lindsey, which is based on a true story.

- Director: Zal Batmanglij- Stacker score: 75- Metascore: 68- IMDb user rating: 6.8- Runtime: 116 min

An undercover agent is tasked with infiltrating a group of ecoterrorists, but her association with the group causes her to start sympathizing with the enemyand falling for one of its members. The film was produced by directors Ridley Scott and Tony Scott, and was described by critic Myles Aronowitz as a slick, grungy espionage thriller so in tune with the times it's almost uncanny.

#66. Official Secrets (2019)

- Director: Gavin Hood- Stacker score: 75- Metascore: 63- IMDb user rating: 7.3- Runtime: 112 min

This docu-drama tells the real-life story of whistleblower Katharine Gun, a British intelligence specialist who, in 2003, comes into possession of a memo which details a plan between the U.S. and the U.K. to gather information on U.N. Security Council members in order to blackmail them. Critic Andrea Gronvalls review of the film praises Keira Knightleys lead performance in particular, noting that Knightley shines brightest, in a performance that balances conviction and soul baring, and is all the more genuine for its lack of showiness.

#65. Lust, Caution (2007)

Read more here:
100 Best spy movies of all time - KAKE

Related Post

Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
This entry was posted in Christopher Lee. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.