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9 great action spy movies to watch on streaming right now

This weekend sees the long-awaited theatrical release and Disney Plus of Black Widow, the standalone Marvel movie that finds Scarlett Johansson as Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff on an adventure across the world to redeem her past and save the world. As well as being the next installment in the MCU, Black Widow is just the latest entry in the age-old genre of spy thrillers, which spans venerable Bond films and the daredevil series Mission Impossible, to more idiosyncratic, non-franchise unique pieces.

If you’re still craving faster action, globe-trotting getaways, and over-the-top explosions, here are nine great spy movies to watch over the weekend.

The American


Photo: Focus features


Am I already breaking the rules by choosing an assassin movie? Yes, but it’s an extremely spy flavor. In 2010, George Clooney played the role of an aging man with a gun who was ready to hang up his scope. Very few people saw the movie, and based on the movie’s “D-” Cinemascore in the release polls, those who saw it were caught off guard. Instead of a tablecloth, Bourne-esque spy thriller, The American was a play of European mood in which photographer-turned-director Anton Corbijn sank deeper and deeper into Clooney’s icy gaze. Set in Rome, the film is scorching and dark, finding exhilaration in the assassin’s attempts to complete a final job with as little emotion as possible. But for all the seriousness and atmosphere, there is still a luscious, page-turning quality to the second half of the film – think of the whole as Bond for the arthouse crowd. –Matte patches

The American is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video

Bourne’s identity

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Speaking of nifty movies, deliver what you promise, Doug Liman’s 2002 adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s 1980 spy novel is still a thrilling action thriller that features an iconic performance by Matt Damon as amnesiac assassin-turned-fugitive Jason Bourne, and with some of the most gripping choreography and action cinematography you’ll see anywhere. After being picked up in a bullet-riddled fishing boat and with no idea who he is, Jason Bourne finds himself in a deadly game of cat and mouse with his old masters who think he is a loose end that needs to be. attached. The first of the critically acclaimed Bourne trilogy, Bourne’s identity is a classic of the contemporary spy thriller. —Toussaint Egan

Bourne’s identity is available to stream on peacock

The conversation

Gene Hackman as Harry Caul desperately plays the saxophone in a ransacked apartment in The Conversation 

Photo: Paramount Photos


Francis Ford Coppola The conversation is a paranoia-provoking murder thriller starring Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, an expert in surveillance – the one who spies! – whose professional integrity and personal morality are directly put in opposition when he suspects that he has spied on a couple who, according to him, will be murdered. Embroiled in a plot of veiled conspirators and unsavory violence, Harry must seek the truth behind what he has witnessed while remaining alive. During the journey, Coppola creates an aura of paranoia with each passing scene, and David Shire’s piano sheet music is a ambiance. -AT

The conversation is available to stream on Hulu


Saoirse Ronan points a gun at Hanna 

Photo: Focus features


Pride and Prejudice action thriller from director Joe Wright Hanna stars Saoirse Ronan as a 15-year-old girl trained from birth to become an assassin by her surrogate, former active CIA father Erik (Eric Bana). When the couple are discovered by Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), the CIA official tasked with retrieving Hanna and her father, she is forced to face revelations about her past and existence as she tries to keep it up. ahead of his pursuers. Featuring a stunning soundtrack produced by The Chemical Brothers, Hanna is a lean and wicked spy thriller that hits the mark. (The Amazon series she inspired, maybe less.) -AT

Hanna is available to stream on peacock

I spy

Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy walk away from explosion in I Spy in 2002 

Photo: Columbia Pictures


With Eddie Murphy’s career in rebirth mode after Dolemite and Coming 2 America, and Owen Wilson explodes again with Loki, it’s time to revisit this action comedy with two charming leads that riff like hell. Based on the 1960s television series of the same name, Betty Thomas’ 2002 spy comedy I spy stars Wilson and Murphy as a secret spy and famous boxer who are forced to team up and go undercover to stop an infamous arms smuggler from selling a stolen stealth bomber on the black market. -AT

I spy is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

IMF super spy Ethan Hunt climbs side of building in Dubai wearing magnetic gloves 

Photo: Paramount Photos


Is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol the best Mission Impossible movie? It is debatable. But is this the funniest Mission Impossible movie? No question. The 2011 entry from director Brad Bird (The iron giant, The Incredibles) finds Tom Cruise’s super spy Ethan Hunt and his IMF colleagues disowned following a horrific attack on the Kremlin. Charged with erasing their names and bringing the real culprits to justice, Hunt and IMF tech-turned-field agent Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) are joined by intelligence analyst William Brandt (Avengers star Jeremy Renner) and manager Jane Carter (Paula Patton) as they travel from Moscow to Dubai and Mumbai on the trail of a rogue nuclear terrorist known only as “Cobalt”. The large scene of Ethan scaling the side of a skyscraper is a delightfully biting performance of growing tension and hilarious comedic timing. –AT

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is available to stream on Paramount Plus

Fall from the sky

Daniel Craig as James Bond (007) on a motorcycle in Skyfall 

Photo: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment


Sam Mendes’ turn in 2012 in the venerable spy-action franchise is a scintillating and melancholy turn for the series, probing the interiority of James Bond history and allegiances in a way no previous installment has ever seen. (except maybe for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) has already done. Fall from the sky follows Daniel Craig as he resumes his role as everyone’s favorite MI6 agent, taking on former agent Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) as he sets up a global plot to bring the organization to its knees and take revenge on the manager of Bond M (Judi Dench) for abandoning it years ago. (Oh, and if you want your classic Bond fix, you’ll have to rent them – none of the classic 007 movies are showing right now.) -AT

Fall from the sky is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video


9 great action spy movies to watch on streaming right now 

Photo: Universal images


Sneakers is the 1990s wellness detective comedy. With a cast to rival ocean 11, including Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, and David Strathairn, pair old-school criminals with hackers on a quest to get one thing. But the Thing and the plot machinations aren’t really the hook here – Sneakers is like a great ’90s movie full of retro tech and a hint of cynical Cold War sentiment. The jokes are witty, the plans are worked out, and in the end the Republican National Committee will be completely penniless. If you’ve seen all of the heist movie masterpieces, it’s finally time to open your heart to the cold alternative of Sneakers. —MP

Sneakers is available to stream on HBO Max

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Some of the actors from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy seated around a table. 



The platonic ideal of the spy film is found in Tomas Alfredson’s interpretation of John le Carré Tinker Tailor Spy Soldier. The film, like its characters, is careful to hide its heart, but ultimately it is an extremely warm film, defying its muted palette and Cold War setting. George Smiley’s (Gary Oldman) search for a double agent in the British Secret Service is a slow burn rather than a smash and grab, with clues to his final reveal buried in the music and the little moments between the characters instead. than in any wide, obvious strokes. –AT

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is available to stream on HBO Max

Screen Shot 2019 12 03 at 8.18.21 AM 9 great action spy movies to watch on streaming right now

Black Widow on Disney Plus

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