Staff Picks: Best Spy Movies
Ruby Le Rouge: This movie was fascinating and a total surprise. I like the sleeper agent bent to some spy flicks. The Red movies would come in as a close second.
Caliber Winfield: I’m not a big Bond fan, so I avoided seeing this for years. When I finally got around to it, it not only became my favorite Bond film by a country mile, but it also became one of my favorite action films of all time. It draws you in with perhaps the greatest chase of all time, and keeps going with great shoot-outs, fights, gambling & poisons, and has you hooked until the very last frame. Stunning film.
Jesse Blume: I’m going to have to say Casino Royale. It was such a surprise to see James Bond taken seriously again, and it ended up being one of those things that you never knew how much you wanted it until it was there. Daniel Craig’s portrayal of James Bond is probably the closest to Fleming’s original incarnation in the books, and he feels like an actual human being who is very flawed, and not such an invulnerable super-spy. I acknowledge that Skyfall is a better movie and I really liked it, but I think I like Casino Royale just a little bit better. After all, it does feature Eva Green!
The Bourne Ultimatum
Derek Johns: The Bourne Ultimatum is without a doubt my favorite spy movie and one of my favorite action films as well. This film is a rare example of a third film actually being the best in the series. With some greatly choreographed fight scenes and Matt Damon at his ass-kicking best, director Paul Greengrass gives audience a truly excellent film and the series a (what should have been) satisfying conclusion.
Casino Royale (1967)
Bethany Lewis: Casino Royale (1967), the James Bond parody starring David Niven, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and Orson Welles is among my favorite spy movies. It has a psychedelic style typical to many comedies during the late 60s, with a swinging theme song by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and a convoluted, absurdist storyline that turns what might have been a straight forward parody into something more unique. What is most striking about it is perhaps the fact that the plot doesn’t even matter. I can’t remember what the setup even is, only that for whatever reason, everyone in the movie takes on the code name James Bond – even the women. Woody Allen is the neurotic villain, Jimmy Bond, while Peter Sellers directs his amazing talents at being completely convincing as a suave and sexy spy. I’m surprised they didn’t try to cast him as the next James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). It would have been a better choice than George Lazenby in any event. Casino Royale isn’t necessarily a great movie, but it certainly leaves an impression, and is terrible funny in a very silly way.
Tony Beaulieu: Since I can’t just say the entire James Bond series, I’ll go with the original: Dr. No. Sean Connery established the world’s most famous spy for the first time on film as a cold blooded, hard boozing, lady fu**ing badass.
Patricia Márquez: Skyfall is my favorite spy movie for many reasons. The main reason is that it deliberately tries to serve as an allegory for the British Empire in the 21st century. Throughout the film, there are reoccurring themes about the lessening of influence of MI6 and the empire at large, such as the scene when James Bond meets with the young millennial aged computer genius hacker at the National Gallery, in front of J.M. W Turner’s famous painting of an industrial steamboat tugging a 19th century British Imperial ship into the sunset. M is aging as well, and her influence and clout is slowly being stripped away, just as Javier Bardem’s super-villain former-agent terrorist is wrecking havoc on the global world, all because of a vendetta against MI-6. It’s up to Bond to restore respectability and faith in the British intelligence agency while defeating the repulsively nefarious Raoul Silva. In order for him to do this, he must go back to his roots; namely, a Scottish estate where he grew up. Basically he takes care of business old-school, and with M and his Scottish foster father figure (Albert Finney) in tow, utterly demolishes his childhood home in a magnum opus of Bond resilient suave badassness. It’s all very symbolic, and the last images leave us with hope for the future of Great Britain and spy movies in general.
Spies Like Us
Brandon Groppi: Umm … Umm … I’m gonna say . . . SPIES LIKE US. Why? Because comedy and I wanna be different! THAT’S WHY. *goes back to his school work*
Derick ‘d-rock’ Dotson: ARGO- I realize when people think spy films, they picture Sean Connery drinking a martini, getting ready to bed any woman he pleases, while kicking ass in between. In reality though, it’s a minute-by-minute dreadful job and ARGO perfectly depicted the stakes the profession can bring. Not to mention it shows how a secret agent utilized Hollywood to save hostages. Being a movie buff, it doesn’t get any cooler than that.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Shawn S. Lealos: There are a lot of great spy movies that are full of fantastic action, from the Bond movies to the Bourne movies to the Mission: Impossible movies. However, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a spy movie of a different nature. The spies are older, but unlike the Red series, these spies aren’t out with giant guns and bombs and killing people. There are people who die here, but this is how spies actually are, making back alley deals, brokering in meeting rooms, and changing the world without anyone ever knowing it. Check out this amazing cast: Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Hardy – all directed by Tomas Alfredson in his first movie after Let the Right One In. When the movie came out in 2011, I named it my favorite movie of the year it came out and really believe that Oldman should have won an Oscar for his performance. It is a masterpiece.