03rd Feb2012

Top 10: Modern Spy Movies

by Phil Wheat

To celebrate Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy winning both British Film of the Year and British Film Star in actor Gary Oldman at the Richard Attenborough Film Awards yesterday we thought we’d take a look at the Top 10 modern spy movies.

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10. The Tailor of Panama

John le Carré’s books are resurgent thanks to the new film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor. This 2001 John Boorman movie sees Geoffrey Rush’s tailor reluctantly finding himself acting as a spy, with disastrous consequences. Also starring Pierce Brosnan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Brendan Gleeson, and Daniel Radcliffe (in his film debut) this is sure to keep you engaged.

9. Munich

The film, based on a true story, shows how a squad of assassins, led by former Mossad agent Avner (Eric Bana), track down and kill a list of Black September members thought to be responsible for the eleven Israeli athletes’ murders. This is a powerhouse of a film, that’s beautifully acted and scripted.

8. Mission Impossible

Following on from the television series of the same name, the plot follows a new agent, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his quest to uncover a mole within the Impossible Mission Force who has framed him for killing his team. That dangling scene and an absolutely cracking theme tune make this a memorable movie adaptation.

7. Syriana

A politically-charged epic about the state of the oil industry in the hands of those personally involved and affected by it. Starring and executively produced by George Clooney, Syriana is not for the faint of heart. With complex storylines and a torture scene that is sure to stay with you for some time, this is a film that will leave you equally exhausted and exhilarated.

6. Mr and Mrs Smith

The film stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as a bored married couple who learn that they are both master assassins when they are sent on the same job. After the double booking they begin to suspect each other and so the cat and mouse game of catch the spy starts.  The film develops as this great action/comedy for the first half and the second goes balls-to-the-wall action.  This is definitely one of those films people need to be more honest with themselves and just admit that it’s plain awesome.

5. Taken

Should you kidnap a hot American girl to sell on the black market, be sure her father isn’t a former spy that can come, find you, and kill you.  Liam Neeson reminds us that he can still be a grade-A action star.  The film takes us through the streets of France in an action packed Spy film with a ticking clock as a man tries to find his daughter.

4. Spies Like Us

Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd are two bad spies.  However, they are sent on a decoy mission to keep the bad guys focus on them as opposed to the real spies who’re trying to save the day.  But somehow they end up saving the day anyways. Directed by John Landis, a classic that is sure to keep you laughing on the edge of your seat.

3. The Bourne Trilogy

Matt Damon plays former CIA assassin and psychogenic amnesiac Jason Bourne, the twenty-first century spy embroiled in international intrigue so confusing and unpredictable that his mission transforms from revealing others’ identities to discovering his own. The fourth movie, The Bourne Legacy, is scheduled for release in August 2012.

2. Dr. No

The first James Bond movie, with Sean Connery snugly fitting into the role he would define for the next decade, is also the closest the series has to offer in the way of a no-frills spy thriller. It adhered to the classic spy paradigm perfected by Hitchcock but also started a trend of modern, paranoid Cold War espionage movies that would pave the way for darker entries like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. It’s light on the gadgets that would eventually make Bond a lark, and instead bets on the tough and gritty – yet still adventurous and sexy – work of a real spy.

1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Set in the 1970s, George Smiley, a recently retired MI6 agent is doing his best to adjust to a life outside the secret service. However, when a disgraced agent reappears with information concerning a mole at the heart of the Circus, Smiley is drawn back into the murky field of espionage. Tasked with investigating which of his trusted former colleagues has chosen to betray him and their country, Smiley narrows his search to four suspects – all experienced, urbane, successful agents – but past histories, rivalries and friendships make it far from easy to pinpoint the man who is eating away at the heart of the British establishment.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is out now on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray Steelbook.

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