There is something undeniably romantic about the idea of being a spy, and we aren’t just talking James Bond romantic. Keeping secrets to protect the people we love, and using our charms to get people to do what we need. There is something very appealing about the life of a spy.
Not ready to pack it all in and pursue the life of a secret agent? Get your thrills with these excellent spy movies currently available on Netflix.
The Angel (2018)
IMDB Score 6.7/10
An adaptation of the non-fiction book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel by Uri Bar-Joseph, it tells the true story of Ashraf Marwan, played by Marwan Kenzari, a high ranking Egyptian official who became a spy for Israel and helped achieve peace between the two countries.
Bitcoin Heist (2016)
IMDB Score 5.8/10
One of the best things about this Vietnamese thriller is the side of life in the country that it shows. It focusses on an unconventional Interpol agent determined to catch a shadowy hacker called “the Ghost”. To succeed he decides to fight fire with fire and recruits a team of thieves to help him. Written, directed and edited by Ham Tran, while there are certainly holes in the story, it is an interesting watch
Camp X (2014)
IMDB Score 7.6/10
Camp X was the unofficial name of a secret spy training school in Canada used by the British during World War II. The training manual that was created for the school laid the foundations for modern espionage in North America and even gave birth to the CIA. This documentary is a detailed look at what actually happened in the camp, and how it changed the world of espionage.
The Chosen (2016)
IMDB Score 6.7/10
This Spanish spy thriller takes us from Barcelona to Mexico to follow the murder of Leon Trotsky in 1940. The movie manages to tell a compelling story without straying too far from the actual historical events. Alfonso Herrera plays Jacques Mornard, claiming to be a Belgian fleeing the war, who makes his way into Trotsky’s (Henry Goodman) inner circle.
IMDB Score 8.8/10
A different kind of spy movie, these agents use more than trickery, these corporate spies infiltrate the mind in order to extract important information, or plant ideas. But where dream meets reality is an unknown and dangerous place. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon Lovett, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, and Ellen Page.
The Jack King Affair (2015)
IMDB Score 6.3/10
Between 1940 and 1945 a British MI5 agent, named Jack King, infiltrated Fascist networks in Great Britain by posing as an undercover Gestapo agent. This documentary film looks at how this mission, and others like it, were organised and made possible, as well as the man himself. The film also discusses the role that the British secret service played throughout the war more generally.
London Spy (2015 – Limited Series)
IMDB Score 7.5/10
A limited series rather than a film, this five part drama should be on the list of any fan of espionage. It stars Ben Wishaw as Danny, as a young man who falls in love with Alex, an enigmatic and brilliant young man. Danny only discovers that Alex was a secret agent when he discovers his body. Danny decides that he must know the truth about Alex’s death, and must enter the world or espionage, for which he is entirely unequipped, to do so.
Secrets of Her Majesty’s Secret Service (2014)
IMDB Score 6.6/10
Leave the fantasy world behind for a few hours and discover the lives of some of Britain’s real secret service agents in this BBC documentary. Directed by Kasia Uscinska, it takes a smart look at the century-old organization, which has only officially existed since 1994. Of course, you will still be left wondering what they aren’t telling us.
The Spy (2019 – Limited Series)
Another limited series rather than a film, this new series stars Sacha Baron Cohen in his first serious role, as Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who infiltrated Syria and rose the position of Deputy Minister of Defence. While this series is based on historic fact, it does a fantastic job unravelling its characters and showing their motivations, challenges and sacrifices.
Spy Time (2015)
IMDB Score 6.1/10
This Spanish film is based on a comic book series of the same name and centres on former secret agent Anacleto, played by Imanol Arias, who comes out of retirement when his arch-nemesis breaks out of prison. Things become more complicated when his grown son, plated by Quim Gutierrez, finally discovers his father’s secret identity, and comes along for the ride.
The Spy Who Fell to Earth (2019)
IMDB Score 6.5/10
This documentary film takes a look at the case of Ashraf Marwan. It investigates whether he was not just an Israeli agent that infiltrated the Egyptian government, but in fact a double agent for the Egyptian government. Watching is likely to leave you with more questions than answers, and have you questioning who you can really trust.
The Tourist (2010)
IMDB Score 6/10
Another Angelina Jolie film on the list, this time opposite Johnny Depp, she plays a seasoned spy who uses Depp, an unwitting tourist, as part of her plans. But perhaps she has gotten more than she bargained for. Sometimes it is unclear whether this is meant to be a serious spy drama or a comedy take on then genre, but is a good watch if you just relax and enjoy it.
No Longer Available on Netflix (US)
Killing Ratio (2016)
IMDB Score 4/10
This American thriller stars Tim Hopper as a CIA operative charged with restoring a democratically elected president of a fictitious Eastern European country to power after a military coup. This film is full of actions that fans will appreciate, but does lack some of the more devious and well thought out storylines of other spy thrillers.
Madras Café (2013)
IMDB Score 7.7/10
This Indian thriller is set in the 1980s and 1990s when India was intervening in the Sri Lankan civil war. The film focuses on an Indian army officer who is recruited by the Indian intelligence agency, R.A.W., to engage in a covert operation. Looking at the spy genre from a completely different angle, this film received critical acclaim from Indian audiences, and is sure to find a fan base with American audiences as well.
The Man Who Knew Too Little (1998)
IMDB Score 6.7/10
If you are looking for a lighter take on the spy genre, then Bill Murray has you covered with this classic comedy. Murray plays clueless American Wallace Ritchie who goes to America to meet his brothers. A series of strange events leads Wallace to believe that he is participating in an improv theatre game as a spy, but he is mistaken for a real spy by some serious agents. Thinking that he is simply playing a part, can Wallace foil their scheme in real life?
Smoke and Mirrors (2016)
IMDB Score 6.9/10
This Spanish thriller is based on the non-fiction book by Manuel Cerdan about a Spanish secret agent that faked his own death after being framed by his own agency. To get his own back, he agrees to participate in an elaborate embezzlement operation to seize money from the police commission. He must use all the skills that he learnt on the job in order to pull it off.
IMDB Score 7.1/10
Starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, Pitt plays a Canadian intelligence officer and Cotillard a French resistance fighter and collaborator. They go undercover as a married couple, and the fall in love. But is their relationship real, or just one more play in the game of espionage. Excellent performances and chemistry from the leads and it will keep you guessing.
IMDB Score 6.4/10
Set during the 1982 Lebanese Civil War, Jon Hamm stars as a former US diplomat who is forced to return to his old stomping grounds in Beirut to save a colleague, from a group who also happens to be responsible for the death of his family (of course). Rosamund Pike gives a good supporting performance in this surprisingly sensitive handling of the subject matter.
Burn After Reading (2008)
IMDB Score 7/10
This black comedy from the always reliable Coen Brothers starts when a CIA agent with problems at work quits his job and decides to write a memoir. A series of unfortunate events see the document fall into the hands of a pair of personal trainers, who mistakenly think it contains government secrets. Their attempts to make money from the document pulls the unprepared pair into a world of espionage. It features an all-star cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, John Malcovich and Tilda Swinton.
Damascus Cover (2017)
IMDB Score 5.1/10
Based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Howard Kaplan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as Ari Sion, a man tasked with getting an Israeli spy out of Syria, but who soon finds himself embroiled in much grander plans. John Hurt gives an excellent supporting performance in his final film appearance after his death.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
IMDB Score 6.2/10
A recent reboot, Chris Pine takes the helm as spy Jack Ryan in the first film about Tom Clancy’s spy that is not an adaptation of one of the author’s novels. A young Ryan undercover in a financial institution finds himself in Russia investigating corruption, all while trying to protect his fiancé. And there is always someone on the inside. Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley support, and Kenneth Branagh makes a great villain, as always.
IMDB Score 5.5/10
An entire special forces team is killed, with the exception of a rookie operative. He blames himself, and so does his government, who are now hunting him down. He goes on the run, and as he pieces together events of the ill-fated mission, he discovers that not all is as it seems. James Krishna Floyd stars in this underrated thriller.
Operation Finale (2018)
IMDB Score 6.5/10
On the back of Star Ward fame Oscar Isaac stars in this historical spy drama that follows the efforts of Israeli intelligence officers to capture a former SS Officer Adolf Eichmann (played by Ben Kingsley) in 1960. The film is well acted and entertaining, even if it fails to capture the true complexity of the historical events.
Our Kind of Traitor (2016)
IMDB Score 6.2/10
Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris play a normal English couple who find themselves embroiled in international espionage when they strike up a friendship with a Russian while on holiday in Morocco, who then unexpectedly gives them a USB stick to hand over to their government. MI6 then wants to use the couple’s connection to find our more.
IMDB Score 6.4/10
Angelina Jolie leading a spy action-thriller, you know it will be entertaining. She plays CIA Agent Salt, who is in fact one of many Russian sleepers planted in important US positions. When it comes time to act, she is exposed, and the hunt for her diverts attention from the true Russian plan. Live Schreiber does some serious scene stealing.
IMDB Score 6.2/10
Burnt out analyst Duval (Francois Cluzet) is an unemployable alcoholic who unexpectedly gets a job transcribing recorded telephone calls. What he learns will put him in the line of fire. This French thriller is fast paced and manages to take us on an incredible journey of paranoia and tension in only 90 minutes.
IMDB Score 6.4/10
This should probably be characterised as a neo-Noir political thriller, starring John Cusack as an American naval intelligence officer in 1941 Japanese controlled Shanghai shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbour as he tries to track down who killed his friend. He gets more than he bargained for and finds himself mixed up in international affairs. Chow Yun-Fat plays an influential crime lord.
IMDB Score 7.3/10
Now one of the most famous true stories of espionage, this film covers the story of Edward Snowden, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who leaked evidence to the public of the NSA’s illegal surveillance techniques and then found himself one of the most wanted men in the world. With a screenplay by Oliver Stone, this is a compelling take on the story.
The Spy Gone North (2018)
IMDB Score 7.2/10
The Korean spy drama is loosely based on the true story of Park Chae-seo, a former South Korean agent who infiltrated North Korea’s nuclear facilities in the 1990s. As he learns what life is truly like on the other side of the border Park, played by Jung-min Hwang, has his beliefs and his loyalties tested.