Are you a fan of adventure and intrigue? Does secrecy and solving puzzles get you excited? If yes then spy movies must be your go to watch movies. And, if you’re a Netflix lover, do check out these best movies on Netflix.
With a world surrounded in conspiracy theories and countries engaged in wars, one often thinks who works behind the curtains and grinds the wheels. Movie makers (like us movie watchers) are equally enamored with this idea. So, we get movies about spies working in the shadows or speeding around the world in high powered vehicles. Whether it’s a dapperly dressed international spy fighting the bad guys or a spy gone rogue looking out for oneself, this list of the best spy movies on Netflix that we have compiled for you will surely keep you glued to the screen for a long time.
1. Casino Royale
Director: Martin Campbell
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis
Actors: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffery Wright, Judi Dench
No spy movie list is complete without the mention of a bond movie. Casino Royale is the debut of Daniel Craig as the famous spy of all time. In this 2006 remake of Casino Royale, Bond is shown at the beginning of his career. His task involves the infiltration of a high-stakes poker game to intercept the terrorist financer Le Chiffre and render him bankrupt. This leads Agent Bond, with his new 007 status, to partake in the poker game and he eventually finds himself amidst a game of wits, betrayal, and revelation.
2. Quantum of Solace
Director: Marc Forster
Writer: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Actors: Daniel Craig, Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffery Wright, Judi Dench
Quantum of Solace is a continuation of Casino Royale. It’s Daniel Craig’s second movie as the agent Bond. The film follows Bond, who is on a personal vendetta to catch and punish those who blackmailed his lover in betraying him in the previous movie. This quest leads him to Dominic Greene, a cold-hearted businessman, and his plan to gain control of a country’s vital natural reserve of oil. Bond must stop and foil this plan which takes him to some revelations and a violent path of espionage. Will he find vengeance or another quest on this path? To find out, we indeed have to watch as Agent Bond navigates his way throughout the movie.
3. The Coldest Game
Director: Lukasz Kosmicki
Writer: Lukasz Kos Micki, Marcel Sawicki
Actors: Bill Pullman, Lotte Verbeek, James Bloor, Robert Wieckieicz
Set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Coldest Game follows an alcoholic American mathematician and chess player, Joshua Mansky, who the U.S government recruits to play as a replacement chess player in a chess tournament in Warsaw. Unbeknownst to the masses, Mansky is required to get as much information about the soviets as possible, along with attempting to win the game. Would he achieve what he is set up to do, or would he fail? The chess game is played on the board and in military board rooms both as the two countries strive for world domination.
Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone
Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Timothy Olyphant, Nicolas Cage
This biographical movie is based on “The Snowden Files” and “The Time of the Octopus.” It chronicles the life of Edward Snowden (a subcontractor with the NSA) before his work with the government and his subsequent decision to whistleblow about the government’s spying and surveillance on its citizens. Snowden smuggles and consecutively leaks the information with the help of a few journalists that results in him taking asylum in Russia.
5. Spy Kids
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Robert Rodriguez
Actors: Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, Alex Vega, Daryl Sabara, Ricky Gervais, Jeremy Piven
“Spy Kids: All The Time In The World” is the fourth installment in the Spy Kid series. The only movie in the series without Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino features an almost new cast with only Alex Vega and Daryl Sabara from the previous movies. The film focuses on a new set of family with retired spy parents who, along with their kids, are sucked back into the spy world to save the world from the evil Time Keeper and his devious Project Armageddon.
6. The Departed
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: William Monahan
Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin
This action and drama-packed movie will keep the viewers on edge throughout the movie, with viewers second-guessing each character. The movie follows the two groups, the police and federal agents versus the Boston Irish Mob and the moles within each group trying to identify the imposters. This star-studded movie is one of Martin Scorsese’s finest works.
7. Bastille Day
Director: James Watkins
Writer: Andrew Baldwin
Actors: Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Jose Garcia, Charlotte Le Bon
The movie contains all the formulas of a typical but enjoyable action movie featuring a rogue government employee, an unwitting civilian, and a terrorist group needing to be stopped and apprehended. In addition, the film follows the story of a CIA agent who teams up with a pickpocket to stop a group of terrorists who intend to use bomb activity and conspiracy hysteria to mask their bank heist. All in all, it is an enjoyable movie to watch if one does not want to pay too much attention to the story.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Michael Cane
Christopher Nolan, with his signature movie style, brings the element of intense intrigue in this movie. Inception revolves around Dominick, a memory thief who steals people’s secrets from their subconscious via entering their dreams. He with his partner commits corporate espionage, which has cost him his freedom to meet his children. In a turn of events, Dominick is offered a chance to use his capabilities to plant an idea in someone’s mind in exchange for the erasure of his criminal record. He must accomplish this project and navigate around a dangerous enemy if he wishes to bring peace to his life.
9. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Steven Zaillian
Actors: Daniel Craig, Rooney Marato his, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright
Based on the award-winning Book Series of the same title by Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a neo-noir psychological thriller. The movie simultaneously introduces us to Lisbeth Salander: a brilliant albeit antisocial hacker slash investigator placed under state-appointed guardianship and a discredited journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Together they embark on a quest to solve a 40 years-old murder case. The film is dark and gritty, with themes of abuse, revenge, and murder that keep the viewers captivated.
10. From Paris With Love
Director: Pierre Morel
Writer: Adi Hasak
Actors: John Travolta, Jonathan Rys Meyers, Kasia Smutniak, Richard Durden
Following a typical buddy-cop formula, From Paris with Love features John Travolta as an over-the-top trigger-happy CIA agent teamed up with a desk jockey and low-level undercover CIA operative. Together they investigate triads and stop terrorists from blowing up various important locations.
11. Mile 22
Director: Peter Berg
Writer: Lea Carpenter
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich, Lauren Cohen, Ronda Rousey, Nikolai Nikolaeff
Mile 22, an action thriller, follows the chain of events that enables a CIA operative James Silva to lead a team of paramilitary soldiers to extract and transport a foreign asset from a US embassy in the fictional country of Indocarr towards an airbase with 22 miles in between the two points. The journey is marred with tribulations as the city’s forces and gangs fight to stop them from reaching their destination.
Director: Sam Hargrave
Writer: Joe Russo
Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Pankaj Tripathi, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani, David Harbour
Based on the graphic novel Cuidad, Extraction follows Tyler Rake; a black-market mercenary tasked with extracting the kidnapped son of an Indian Drug Lord. Set in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the movie is laced with action, gun violence, betrayal, and sentiment.
13. American Assassin
Director: Michael Cuesta
Writer: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz
Actors: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar
Based on Vince Flynn’s novel with the same name, American Assassin introduces us to the main protagonist Mitch Rapp reeling from revenge for his late fiancé, who died in a terrorist attack. After an intervention from U.S special forces foils his plan to kill the man responsible for his fiancé’s death, Rapp is recruited and trained as a CIA operative. Together with Hurley (a cold war veteran), Rapp and a Turkish agent try to stop a formerly presumed dead operative from starting a nuclear war. The movie has its fair share of action, drama, and thrill to keep the audience hooked with every scene.
14. Operation Finale
Director: Chris Weitz
Writer: Mathew Orton
Actors: Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Haley Lu Richardson , Melanie Laurent, Lior Raz, Nick Kroll,
The tragicness of the holocaust by Nazis has been featured in many movies. The aftermath of the holocaust saw several Nazi Officials prosecuted for their war crimes. Operation Finale depicts the capture of Adolf Eichmann and his subsequent extradition to Israel. The movie takes place after almost one and a half-decade of World War 2 when Israeli agents can track down one of the significant holocaust masterminds, Adolf Eichmann, living in Argentina with his family under an alias. He is subsequently kidnapped and snuck out to Israel, with many hindrances, by Israeli agents to stand trial for his war crimes.
15. The Angel
Director: Ariel Vromen
Writer: David Arata
Actors: Marvan Kenzari, Toby Kebbell
The Angel is the real-life story of a high-ranking Egyptian official Ashraf Marwan who simultaneously spied for Israeli intelligence. He is rumored to be a double agent as his diplomacy leads to a lasting peace between Israel and Egypt following the 1973 war. The movie is an adaptation of Uri Bar-Joseph’s book “The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel”. It shows Marwan’s life before his ascension as an Egyptian official and circumstances leading towards his eventual espionage for Israel. It further reveals how Marwan used his position to achieve stability in the region and peace between Egypt and Israel.
16. State of Play
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Writer: Mathew Michael, Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, Billy Ray
Actors: Russel Crowe, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Jeff Daniels, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn
Although not strictly a spy movie, “State of Play” has been placed in this list due to the element of surveillance and detection playing an important role. Based on the British television series of the same name, “State of Play” explores the idea of privatized defense organizations, the part of the press and the corruption of politicians. The story kicks off with two murders and one apparent suicide. The suicide reveals to be the mistress of a prominent politician Stephen Collins. We also meet Cal McAffrey, an investigative journalist, and Della Frye, a reporter who works for the Washington globe. Together they start to uncover a vast scandal involving politicians, defense contractors, and veterans. In the end, they would discover a truth so unexpected that it would shock the audience.
Director: Jonas Akerlund
Writer: Jayson Rothwell
Actors: Mads Mikkelsen, Matt Lucas, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick
Created around the Graphic novel “Polar: Came from the Cold,” Polar is a neo-noir action movie revolving around the world of secret assassin organizations and hitmen. The film revolves around Duncan Vizla, Aka The Black Kaiser, a retired hitman and his former double-crossing employer who put a target on his back. As a result, the former hitman is forced out of retirement as he fights for his life and the life of someone he has come to cherish.
18. 6 Underground
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese
Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Dave Franco, Ben Hardy, Mélanie Laurent, Adria Arjona, Kim Kold, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Lior Raz, Corey Hawkins, Payman Maadi, Yuri Kolokolnikov
A vain and performative billionaire finds himself amidst the horrors of a ruthless political regime. Four years later, the billionaire has faked his death and forms an undercover ghost team of vigilantes consisting of a spy, a hitman, a runner, a thief, a doctor, and a driver. All members are assigned a number to forgo their previous names and lives and embrace the anonymity of the group. Together they embark on a quest to dismantle and bring down the untouchable persons with criminal activities and intentions.
19. The Exception
Director: David Leveaux
Writer: Simon Burke
Actors: Lily James, Jai Courtney, Mark Dexter, Janet McTeer, Christopher Plummer, Ben Daniels, Eddie Marsan, Anton Lesser, Martin Savage
Set against the backdrop of World War 2, The Exception is a fictional account of events surrounding the escape of an exiled German emperor from the Gestapo and their murderous intent. The movie is based on Alan Judd’s novel: “The Kaiser’s Last Kiss,” which is an exciting mixture of romance, war, and undercover activities. It’s a sentimental and romantic piece of cinematic work incorporating the themes of warfare and espionage.
20. The Red Sea Diving Resort
Director: Gideon Raff
Writer: Gideon Raff
Actors: Chris Evans, Michiel Huisman, Michael K. Williams, Haley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Greg Kinnear, Ben Kingsley
Based on the real-life events of Operation Moses and Operation Joshua conducted by Mossad, Ethiopian Jews were rescued and transported to Israel using a deserted resort on the Red Sea coast of Sudan. The movie shows the efforts of the Israeli Agent Ari Levinson to liberate Ethiopian Jews when he plans and executes a covert rescue operation by reopening an abandoned Red Sea Diving Resort. Instead, he uses the resort as a front for smuggling the refugees, using the tourists as a coverup for multiple extractions until the Sudanese government figures out the plan.
This list of best spy movies on Netflix will surely make most spy-movie enthusiasts plan their subsequent binge-watching sessions for movie nights. It caters to the sensibilities of multiple genre lovers as it contains spy movies with action, history, sci-fi, adventure, comedy, and violent imagery. Happy watching!