Streaming giants are always here to deliver the best of cinema, be it spy thrillers or horror. Like a spy agent slipping from behind, the content gets better and better every year.
Here's a look at the top 10 spy films, ranked on the basis of 'tomatometer' on Rotten Tomatoes.
10 spy movies to stream
Snowden revolves around Edward Snowden, a contractor who joins the NSA. He is nicknamed 'Snow White' as he believes that the NSA doesn't only track enemies of the state, but rather is eavesdropping on every mobile phone in the US, eventually becoming a whistleblower. The film is along the lines of a spy drama and is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
The film holds a score of 61% on Rotten Tomatoes and an IMDb rating of 7.3. According to the Observer UK:
"Snowden's intellect is most effectively conveyed in Gordon-Levitt's eyes - watchful, sober and clouded by doubt, they are a window into his impossible ethical quandary."
Christopher Nolan’s mind-boggling film, TENET, begins with an undercover operation, an 'inverted' bullet, and a secret agent on a dangerous mission involving an algorithm with a plot to start World War III. The spy thriller is available to watch on Amazon Prime and has received much praise for its casting.
TENET holds a rating of 69% on Rotten Tomatoes with an IMDb rating of 7.4. According to The Daily Beast:
"Something like the epitome of [Nolan's] temporally twisty canon, distilling his many cinematic signatures and preoccupations down to their entrancing abstract essence."
8) A Call to Spy
A Call to Spy revolves around British PM Winston Churchill, who ordered his spy agency to hire women for sabotage and resistance-building during the WWII. However, these recruits are part of an unlikely group determined to undermine the Nazis. The film is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
The film holds a rating of 72% on Rotten Tomatoes with an IMDb rating of 6.6. According to BBC.com:
"Telling her story on screen, along with those of other undersung heroines, is a more dynamic living tribute than any building could be."
7) Burn After Reading
The Cohen Brothers’ Burn After Reading is a satirical approach to the incompetence of spy agencies. The film revolves around a disk containing memoirs of a former CIA analyst that falls into the hands of Linda Litzke and Chad Feldheimer. The two then used the same to make money to have a life-changing cosmetic surgery, whirling the events out of their control.
The film holds a rating of 78% on Rotten Tomatoes with an IMDb rating of 7.0. It is available to stream on Amazon Prime. According to The Indian Express:
"Burn After Reading is a comedy that makes fun of almost everything, reminding you that almost none of it is laughing matter."
6) Atomic Blonde
Charlize Theron is a MI6 agent who gets caught up in the office explaining her recent work in the city, on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. But a microfilm containing the names of every agent at work in Berlin has been stolen, and it's her mission to bring it back. The spy film is available to watch on Apple TV+.
Atomic Blonde holds a score of 79% with an IMDb rating of 6.7. According to Glamour UK:
"Who do we thank for this refreshing take on the smash-'em-up genre and this thoroughly modern woman in a Bechdel-beating blockbuster?... Thank Charlize Theron."
5) Bridge of Spies
Bridge of Spies is yet another spy film, only this time it revolves around the Soviets who shot down a CIA U-2 plane during the Cold War and arrested the pilot. Stephen Spielberg's historical thriller has Tom Hanks leading the film as the Brooklyn attorney who helped negotiate the exchange. The film is available to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
The film holds a score of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes with a rating of 7.6 on IMDb. According to Collider:
"Bridge of Spies is a quality film featuring loads of commendable work, but Spielberg's glossy and exceedingly upbeat take on the material might make it more of a crowd-pleaser than an Oscar contender."
4) Zero Dark Thirty
The Oscar-winning film, Zero Dark Thirty, is an exploration of the CIA's obsessive hunt for Osama Bin Laden. It brought the reality of torture, military base bombings and al Qaeda to an audience who had only read about them. The spy thriller praised Jessica Chastain's performance while also showing that spy work is dirty work. The film is available to stream on Prime Video.
Zero Dark Thirty holds a score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes with a rating of 7.4 on IMDb. According to the Irish Times:
"So overwhelming is the momentum that it proves possible to live with the intelligence that the protagonist is complicit in ground-level fascism."
The biographical spy drama revolves around Ron, who is assigned to the intelligence division of the Colorado Springs Police Department. He then infiltrates a Ku Klux Klan group by pretending to be interested in joining and teams up with a co-worker to keep up the pretense to take them down. Ron Stallworth was the first African-American detective to serve in that department.
BlacKkKlansman has a score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes with an IMDb rating of 7.5. The film has a stunning cast including John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace and many more. It is available to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
According to the Observer:
"A kitchen sink and kaleidoscopic study of cultural and institutional racism in America."
The spy thriller Argo is based on true events when a film crew had to help bust American hostages out of Tehran. The lead, Tony Mendez, poses as a Hollywood producer, scouting locations in Iran and training the refugees to act as his "film" crew. The film has a brilliant cast including Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin.
Argo holds a score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes with an IMDb rating of 7.7. The film is available to stream on Prime Video, according to Times UK:
"Ben Affleck has delivered a knuckle-muncher of a thriller and a satire on Hollywood, both in one unlikely package."
1) Mission: Impossible - Fallout
The Mission Impossible franchise has always been a fan favorite when it comes to spy films, but in recent times, it is most known for the 2018 film Mission: Impossible - Fallout. The plot revolves around Ethan Hunt and his team who are assigned to buy three stolen plutonium cores from eastern European gangsters while also helping the CIA. The film is available to stream on Amazon Prime and Hulu.
The film has a brilliant cast including Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett, Henry Cavill and many more. Mission: Impossible - Fallout grossed $790m, making itself the top earner of the franchise. It holds a score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and an IMDb rating of 7.7. According to the Chicago Reader:
"Ironically, the most entertaining element of all may be the star's advancing age; Cruise, well into his 50s, scores numerous laughs as the increasingly confused CIA agent, leaping into one spectacular stunt after another and then wishing he hadn't."
Honorary Mentions: Spy films that are worth everyone's time
Honorary mentions of Spy films that are worth everyone's time include Cloak and Dagger, A Most Wanted Man, The Conversation, The Bourne Identity, North by Northwest and The Lives of Others.
Watch the best of Spy films on streaming giants and enjoy the holiday season.