The best spy movies are the ones that would make one feel like becoming a CIA agent or joining some agencies that are into espionage activities. They are the ones that come with the thrill when you see people like James Bond and Jason Bourne killing all the bad guys without getting hit by the raining bullets and then saving the day at the end of it all or achieving a particular goal.
While in real life espionage can be very boring, in the world of fiction, there is hardly a thing that beats a good spy movie. Here are some you probably are yet to see.
Best Spy Movies
1. Dr. No (1962)
Yes, Dr. No should not just appear on any list of the best spy movies, but it should also top. In this movie, we get to see one of the most epic espionage wit of James Bond. Beyond just being a spy movie, you will find it almost topping all other James Bond movies. It gets more exciting to know that this is also the first James Bond Film.
Starring Sean Connery and directed by Terence Young, this movie is adapted from the 1985 Dr. No novel by Ian Fleming. Bond has a mission that takes him to Jamaica following the disappearance of a British agent. Now, he finds out the notorious Dr. No has plans to interfere with an American space launch.
The film had a budget of $1.1 million and it made a significant $59.5 million in Box Office.
2. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Arguably the best film in the Bourne series, this is the third movie in the franchise which like others, was adapted from the book of Robert Ludlum which also has the same name.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) who is a former CIA Assasin, now a target of assassination, is trying to pull in more information about himself and his past following the memory loss he suffered earlier in the series.
The movie recorded great reviews and also a financial success with a Box office returns of $442.8 million as against the $110 million budget. Arguably the best movie of 2017, it won three Academy Awards.
3. Goldfinger (1964)
Needless to say, many of James Bond films would definitely find their ways to any list of the best spy movies if such a list can only be long enough. Goldfinger is somewhere close to the top.
Directed by Guy Hamilton, this British spy film stars Sean Connery as James Bond, who as always, takes the role of the MI6 agent. Adapted from Ian Fleming’s novel of the same title, it tells the story of Bond who tries to uncover and stop Auric Goldfinger from contaminating the U.S. Bullion Depository. Initially, Bond was to investigate the smuggling of gold by Goldfinger, and it is in the process of this that he uncovered other things.
Critically a huge success, this Bond movie also recorded financial success as from its $3 million budget, it pulled in $125 million in Box office. The movie won the Academy Awards and was also nominated for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) as well as for a Grammy Award.
4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
A Tomas Alfredson directed Cold War spy film, this became a critically and commercially successful movie soon after it was released and it got three Academy Awards nominations as well as the BAFTA Award for Best British Film.
Based on the novel of the same name by John le Carré in 1974, the film centers on George Smiley (Gary Oldman) who is forced into retirement with his boss, Control who is in charge of The Circus (British Intelligence). However, he will find his way back to the agency because there is a Russian spy in the MI6 and he is now trying to identify who that is.
Before the movie was made, the novel was first adapted into a mini-series back in 1979, and so turning it into a film of that nature with all the complexities was something thrilling in itself.
$21 million was the budget of this movie which pulled in $80.6 million Box Office returns.
5. Mission: Impossible Fallout (2018)
It will not be possible for one to skip the Mission Impossible franchise from the greatest espionage movies made. While Tom Cruise has delivered superspy performance with almost all the MI movies including Mission: Impossible (1996) and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), Fallout is probably the best.
It is that movie in the franchise that makes an attempt to take it all to take everything that did not work perfectly in the previous movies in the franchise and make them even better while also introducing new things. This time around, we see more emotions in the movie and there is more daredevil chase than we have seen before in the franchise.
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Fallout sees Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is up against the terror group Apostle which wants to carry out attacks in Mecca, Jerusalem, and the Vatican. Now, the nuclear weapon to be used in the attack has gone missing and Ethan and the IMF team have time to fight against.
Against a budget of $178 million in production, it made $791.1 million in returns.
6. North by Northwest (1959)
What kills many spy movies is that they are almost completely lacking when it comes to suspense. That is one of the main strengths of North by Northwest.
This movie which is directed by Alfred Hitchcock is more of an anti-spy movie. Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) finds himself mistaken for Kaplan who is only a persona created to serve as a distraction to Vandamme to keep Kendall hidden. Now, Thornhill has been kidnapped and the agency is not ready to free him or else it will burst its covers.
From the $4.3 million that was put into the production of the movie, it made back $9.8 million in returns.
7. The Bourne Identity (2002)
An adaptation of The Bourne Identity novel by Robert Ludlum, this movie tells the story of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) who is trying to find out who he really is after he suffered an extreme memory loss.
A former black ops agent, his superiors now know that Bourne is still alive and they are now working to put him out for good. Beyond an intense story and great production, almost everything else is almost perfect with this movie which was directed by Doug Liman. All the sequels of the movie also maintain its intensity.
The budget of this movie was $60 million and it made back $214 million in Box Office.
8. Black Book (2006)
Directed by Paul Verhoeven who also co-wrote the movie, it tells the story of Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten), who worked as a spy during World War 2 for the resistance. This was after she suffered some major tragedy from the hands of the Nazis.
Unlike many other great spy movies, this is a movie that was made in the Netherlands and not a creation of Hollywood.
Looking at the finances, this movie has not done as well as many other spy movies on the list and off of it, but it is still a great one. It had a budget of $21 million but only got to make $27 million. In terms of awards, it got two Saturn Award nominations as well as various other awards in Netherland.
9. Munich (2005)
In the 1972 Summer Olympics in West Germany, members of the Israeli Olympic team were killed in what is known as the Munich Massacre. In retaliation, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir gave the authorization for what is known as Operation “Wrath of God,” a covert mission to assassinate all those involved in the massacre.
That is the background of this movie which was directed by Steven Spielberg. Not the one too many people will remember him for, it is still one of the best spy movies out there.
Featuring Eric Bana who portrays Avner Kaufman and Daniel Craig who takes the role of Steve, the film got five Academy Awards nominations. It tells the story of Avner Kaufman who is to lead the covert operation to kill the 11 Palestinians who were believed to be involved in the massacre carried out by the Black September terrorist group.
With 5 Academy Awards and Golden Globe Award nominations, the budget for this movie was $70 million and it returned $130.4 million.
10. Skyfall (2012)
What better way to end your best spy movies list than with another Bond movie? This 2012 action thriller which portrays Daniel Craig as James Bond and directed by Sam Mendes is one of the very best Bond movies we have seen.
In this movie which has been praised for its interesting and captivating action, Bond is called to save the day after Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) who is a former MI6 agent who is now a cyberterrorist has carried out an attack on the Secret Intelligence Service all in an effort to discredit and then kill M who he has grudges against for betraying him.
This movie won 2 Academy Awards, 2 British Academy Film Awards, 2 Grammy Awards, and a Golden Globe Awards. More so, it made $1.109 billion from a budget between $150 to 200 million.