The 20 Best Spy Movies

The 20 Best Spy Movies

Hier is a collection of what we believe are the 20 best spy movies of all time. And, no, it's not just a list of Bond films – although, it very well could be. Whatever the case, these films are what we believe to be the most sound examples within the genre. We're sure you can find a few tales of espionage here worth watching.


Release Date 2012-10-11
Rating : 7.2 Production Companies: GK Films / Warner Bros. / Director: Sheila Waldron / Sheila Waldron / Stars: Ben Affleck  /  Bryan Cranston  /  Alan Arkin

Summary: As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA 'exfiltration' specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador.

The Bourne Identity

Release Date 2002-06-14
Rating : 7.4 Production Companies: Universal Pictures / Kennedy/Marshall Company, The / Director: Doug Liman / Doug Liman / Stars: Matt Damon  /  Franka Potente  /  Chris Cooper

Summary: Wounded to the brink of death and suffering from amnesia, Jason Bourne is rescued at sea by a fisherman. With nothing to go on but a Swiss bank account number, he starts to reconstruct his life, but finds that many people he encounters want him dead. However, Bourne realizes that he has the combat and mental skills of a world-class spy – but who does he work for?

Burn After Reading

Release Date 2008-09-05
Rating : 6.5 Production Companies: Mike Zoss Productions / Studio Canal / Director: Joel Coen / Joel Coen / Stars: George Clooney  /  Frances McDormand  /  Tilda Swinton

Summary: When a disc containing memoirs of a former CIA analyst falls into the hands of Linda Litzke and Chad Feldheimer, the two gym employees see a chance to make enough money for her to have life-changing cosmetic surgery. Predictably, events whirl out of control for the duo doofuses and those in their orbit.

Casino Royale

Release Date 2006-11-14
Rating : 7.4 Production Companies: Eon Productions / Director: Martin Campbell / Martin Campbell / Stars: Daniel Craig  /  Eva Green  /  Mads Mikkelsen

Summary: Le Chiffre, a banker to the world's terrorists, is scheduled to participate in a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro, where he intends to use his winnings to establish his financial grip on the terrorist market. M sends Bond – on his maiden mission as a 00 Agent – to attend this game and prevent Le Chiffre from winning. With the help of Vesper Lynd and Felix Leiter, Bond enters the most important poker game in his already dangerous career.

The Day of the Jackal

Release Date 1973-05-15
Rating : 7.7 Production Companies: Director: Gladys Goldsmith / Gladys Goldsmith / Stars: Edward Fox  /  Michael Lonsdale  /  Olga Georges-Picot

Summary: An international assassin known as ‘The Jackal’ is employed by disgruntled French generals to kill President Charles de Gaulle, with a dedicated gendarme on the assassin's trail.

The Hunt for Red October

Release Date 1990-03-02
Rating : 7.3 Production Companies: Paramount Pictures / Nina Saxon Film Design / Director: John McTiernan / John McTiernan / Stars: Alec Baldwin  /  Sean Connery  /  Scott Glenn

Summary: A new Soviet nuclear missile sub (a Boomer) heading out on her maiden voyage that is being tracked by a Los Angeles class American submarine suddenly goes silent and "disappears". This focuses the attention of both U.S. Intelligence and the U.S. Navy on the Russian Sub Commander . When it is determined that the silent Soviet Boomer may be headed for American coastal waters panic ensues. A CIA analyst, Jack Ryan, convinces the brass that the Boomer's commander may intend something other than a nuclear first strike in mind. A perilous and tense cat-and-mouse game ensues.

The Ipcress File

Release Date 1965-03-18
Rating : 7.1 Production Companies: Director: Sidney J. Furie / Sidney J. Furie / Stars: Michael Caine  /  Nigel Green  /  Guy Doleman

Summary: This espionage thriller represents a landmark in spy movies introducing the sly, dry intelligence agent Harry Palmer. The story, centers on Palmer's investigation into British Intelligence security. He's soon enmeshed in a world of double-dealing, kidnap and murder and finds a traitor is operating at the heart of the secret service. Will the mysterious 'Ipcress File' reveal who the traitor is?

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Release Date 2015-01-24
Rating : 7.6 Production Companies: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation / Marv Films / Director: Lucy Ward / Lucy Ward / Stars: Taron Egerton  /  Colin Firth  /  Samuel L. Jackson

Summary: The story of a super-secret spy organization that recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

The Lives of Others

Release Date 2006-03-15
Rating : 8 Production Companies: Sheldon Leonard Productions / Sheldon Leonard Productions / Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck / Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck / Stars: Martina Gedeck  /  Ulrich Mühe  /  Sebastian Koch

Summary: A tragic love story set in East Berlin with the backdrop of an undercover Stasi controlled culture. Stasi captain Wieler is ordered to follow author Dreyman and plunges deeper and deeper into his life until he reaches the threshold of doubting the system.

The Manchurian Candidate

Release Date 1962-10-24
Rating : 7.8 Production Companies: MC Productions / Director: John Frankenheimer / John Frankenheimer / Stars: Frank Sinatra  /  Laurence Harvey  /  Angela Lansbury

Summary: The Manchurian Candidate is a political thriller from American director John Frankenheimer. An American soldier is brainwashed into being a killer for the communist Russians during the Korean War.

Mission: Impossible

Release Date 1996-05-22
Rating : 6.8 Production Companies: Paramount Pictures / Cruise/Wagner Productions / Director: Jean Reno / Jean Reno / Stars: Tom Cruise  /  Jon Voight  /  Emmanuelle Béart

Summary: When Ethan Hunt, the leader of a crack espionage team whose perilous operation has gone awry with no explanation, discovers that a mole has penetrated the CIA, he's surprised to learn that he's the No. 1 suspect. To clear his name, Hunt now must ferret out the real double agent and, in the process, even the score.


Release Date 2005-12-23
Rating : 7.1 Production Companies: DreamWorks SKG / Universal Pictures / Director: Adam Somner / Adam Somner / Stars: Eric Bana  /  Daniel Craig  /  Ciarán Hinds

Summary: During the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, eleven Israeli athletes are taken hostage and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September. In retaliation, the Israeli government recruits a group of Mossad agents to track down and execute those responsible for the attack.

North by Northwest

Release Date 1959-07-07
Rating : 7.9 Production Companies: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) / Director: Mickey McCardle / Mickey McCardle / Stars: Cary Grant  /  Eva Marie Saint  /  James Mason

Summary: Advertising man Roger Thornhill is mistaken for a spy, triggering a deadly cross-country chase.

Patriot Games

Release Date 1992-06-04
Rating : 6.6 Production Companies: Paramount Pictures / Mace Neufeld Productions / Director: Phillip Noyce / Phillip Noyce / Stars: Harrison Ford  /  Anne Archer  /  Patrick Bergin

Summary: When CIA Analyst Jack Ryan interferes with an IRA assassination, a renegade faction targets Jack and his family as revenge.


Release Date 1998-09-25
Rating : 6.9 Production Companies: United Artists / FGM Entertainment / Director: Jean Reno / Jean Reno / Stars: Robert De Niro  /  Jean Reno  /  Natascha McElhone

Summary: A briefcase with undisclosed contents – sought by Irish terrorists and the Russian mob – makes its way into criminals' hands. An Irish liaison assembles a squad of mercenaries, or 'ronin', and gives them the thorny task of recovering the case.

The Third Man

Release Date 1949-08-31
Rating : 8.1 Production Companies: London Film Productions / British Lion Film Corporation / Director: Carol Reed / Carol Reed / Stars: Joseph Cotten  /  Alida Valli  /  Orson Welles

Summary: Set in postwar Vienna, Austria, "The Third Man" stars Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, a writer of pulp Westerns, who arrives penniless as a guest of his childhood chum Harry Lime, only to find him dead. Martins develops a conspiracy theory after learning of a "third man" present at the time of Harry's death, running into interference from British officer Maj. Calloway and falling head-over-heels for Harry's grief-stricken lover, Anna.

Three Days of the Condor

Release Date 1975-09-24
Rating : 7.3 Production Companies: Paramount Pictures / Wildwood Enterprises / Director: Sydney Pollack / Sydney Pollack / Stars: Robert Redford  /  Faye Dunaway  /  Cliff Robertson

Summary: A bookish CIA researcher finds all his co-workers dead, and must outwit those responsible until he figures out who he can really trust.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Release Date 2011-09-16
Rating : 6.7 Production Companies: StudioCanal / Kinowelt Filmproduktion / Director: Libbie Barr / Libbie Barr / Stars: John Hurt  /  Gary Oldman  /  Kathy Burke

Summary: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet mole within his former colleagues at the heart of MI6.

True Lies

Release Date 1994-07-15
Rating : 6.8 Production Companies: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation / Lightstorm Entertainment / Director: Arnold Schwarzenegger / Arnold Schwarzenegger / Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger  /  Jamie Lee Curtis  /  Tom Arnold

Summary: Harry Tasker is a secret agent for the United States Government. For years, he has kept his job from his wife, but is forced to reveal his identity and try to stop nuclear terrorists when he and his wife are kidnapped by them.

Where Eagles Dare

Release Date 1968-12-04
Rating : 7.6 Production Companies: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) / Winkast Film Productions / Director: Penny Daniels / Penny Daniels / Stars: Richard Burton  /  Clint Eastwood  /  Mary Ure

Summary: World War II is raging, and an American general has been captured and is being held hostage in the Schloss Adler, a Bavarian castle that's nearly impossible to breach. It's up to a group of skilled Allied soldiers to liberate the general before it's too late.