2015 has brought a bumper crop of spy movies to the big screen. And with the upcoming release of the latest James Bond movie Spectre, the granddaddy of all spy franchises is set to thrill us with more high-speed chases and fist fights.
But if you’d like to whet your appetite before catching Spectre in cinemas or just want to have a spy movie marathon this weekend, here’s our picks for the best spy movies of the year…so far.
1Kingsman: The Secret Service
A few months ago I called Kingsman the most entertaining movie I’d seen in a long time (read our review here), and that still stands.
Filled with more sartorial excellence than Bond (and that’s saying something), Kingsman: The Secret Service is the story of how young Eggsy (Taron Egerton) gets handpicked to become a spy. Meanwhile, evil tech genius Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) is busy hatching a plot to kill off most of the world’s population using SIM cards.
Clearly modelled on the Bond movies of old, it took every spy movie trope and turned it on its head, which resulted in some very clever action sequences and a whole lot of fun.
Reuniting the comic team of Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) and Melissa McCarthy, the obviously-named Spy turned out to be a sleeper hit. Desk-bound CIA agent Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is forced to go into the field after super agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) runs into trouble. Oh, and she has to track down a missing nuke, too.
Spy gave Melissa McCarthy the role she finally deserved. She got to show off her impressive comedic chops while kicking ass and taking names.
It was also a stellar example of that rarest of things: a successful spy-comedy. The movie provided a whole slew of laugh-out-loud moments, most notably from Jason Statham, who plays a bumbling, hypermasculine CIA agent who won’t take “no” for an answer.
3Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
The fifth installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise had Tom Cruise again zipping around on motorcycles and beating the shit out of the bad guys. (read our review here)
IMF agent Ethan Hunt is on the run this time as he struggles to prove the existence of the criminal organisation Syndicate. With some excellent action sequences (that opera scene and the one where he hangs off a cargo plane!), it was a rollicking romp that hit the jackpot at the box office again.
More importantly, it also showed us how awesome Rebecca Ferguson was as Syndicate operative Ilsa Faust, with just the right amount of mystery and allure. No wonder she was in the running for the Gambit movie.
4The Man from U.N.C.L.E
Guy Ritchie stormed back onto the scene with a remake of the classic TV series, but critics lambasted The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for being boring.
I don’t know what movie they were watching, because I thoroughly enjoyed it (read our review here). It was irreverent and tons of fun, and having the smoking hot Armie Hammer and Henry “Superman” Cavill as the leads didn’t hurt either.
Throw in some lush sets, a plot involving hunting down Nazis armed with nukes and some really terrific cinematography, and you really can’t go wrong.
5Bridge of Spies
Based on true events, Tom Hanks plays a lawyer who is tasked with negotiating the release of a man accused of being a Soviet spy. When an American spy plane is shot down in the USSR and a prisoner exchange is proposed, what seems like a fairly straightforward case soon turns into a politically charged one.
This is yet another period piece that harks back to all the classic Cold War espionage flicks. Head Geek Nicholas Yong felt that it lacked dramatic tension (read our review here), but that is really its strength. In a year populated with many entertaining spy films, Bridge of Spies felt like a breath of fresh air, albeit a very tension-filled one.
Missed out any of your favourite spy movies this year? Tell us in the comments!