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Daniel Craig in No Time To Die

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Have you ever felt as if you were being watched? Well, how do you think the characters of your favorite spy movies feel as you stream or rent them on digital?

Hollywood’s depiction of covert operations can range from the stuff of fantasy, the stuff of nightmares, or even the stuff you may have learned about in history class, just with more chases, explosions, and quippy dialogue, usually. The spy genre is also one that, refreshingly so, can range in tone, so if the suaveness of James Bond is not your thing, you can always fall back on the earnest grit of Jason Bourne or even the lunacy of Austin Powers.

There is something for everyone in the world of secret agents and the following cinematic classics are proof that fact is no secret. These are 11 great spy flicks available for you to stream or rent online right now and, unsurprisingly, two of them were released in 2015.

Cary Grant in North by Northwest

North By Northwest (1959)

Alfred Hitchcock was a master of suspense in all forms, from detective noir with Vertigo to horror with Psycho, and this Oscar-nominated cultural staple one of his greatest takes on espionage. North by Northwest is especially unique for being one of the sole spy film on this list in which the protagonist is not actually secret agent, but, in this case an advertising agent. Cary Grant (an early choice play James Bond at one point) plays Roger Thornhill who undergoes a heart-racing journey dodging bullets and even planes when international intelligence spies mistake him for one of the American government’s agents.

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldmember

Goldfinger (1964)

Everyone has a favorite James Bond (the majority siding with the movie series’ original leading man, Sean Connery) and everyone has a favorite James Bond movie (the majority siding with Connery’s third outing as the MI-6 agent). Goldfinger, the Oscar-winning thriller named after a ruthless, chilling smuggler intent on raiding Fort Knox, is everything you want in a 007 film due to its riveting action and suspense that leaves you shaken, not stirred. Plus, Shirley Bassey’s rousing theme song is a hard to one to beat… unless you count the title track from another soon-to-be mentioned Bond film.

Where to Stream: Amazon Prime
Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies

True Lies (1994)

If Arnold Schwarzenegger was a Brit, he could have made a pretty good Bond, as he demonstrated in his third film with writer and director James Cameron. Schwarzenegger plays a family man whose worst fears come true when a misunderstanding causes his private life as a secret agent begins to boil over into his average, suburban existence, unintentionally roping his unsuspecting wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) into the insanity. In addition to being one of Cameron’s funnier pictures, considering it is an American update of 1991 French comedy La Totale!, True Lies has no shortage of the kind of explosive action you crave from the Governator, making it a relentless burst of fun from beginning to end.

Where To Stream: HBO Now

Mimi Rogers and Mike Myers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery (1997)

The spy genre has been ridiculed by the likes David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams with Top Secret!, Leslie Nielsen in Spy Hard, and Rowan Atkinson with Johnny English, but I would have to credit Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery as the finest of espionage film parodies, especially for how it managed to take on a life of its own. Saturday Night Live alum Mike Myers writes this send-up and stars as both titular swinging secret agent and his arch enemy, Dr. Evil, both of whom suffer a massive clash with ‘90s culture after 30 years in cryogenic slumber. Thanks to refreshingly ridiculous character and surprisingly quotable jokes, Austin Powers has garnered a cultural impact nearly as prevalent as the very films it pokes fun at.

Where To Stream: Netflix
Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara in Spy Kids

Spy Kids (2001)

A child’s perception of the life of a secret agent is all jetpacks, sunglasses, and not an ounce of the harsh reality the job requires, so a spy film for younger audiences would have to be pure fantasy. Writer and director Robert Rodriguez goes above and beyond that mantra with Spy Kids, in which 12-year-old Carmen (Alexa Vega) and 8-year-old Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabarra) must rescue their secret agent parents (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) from a TV personality (Alan Cumming) who has been turning spies into bizarre creatures for his children’s program. It is hard to believe that such a delightfully fun and visually dazzling family-friendly adventure could come from the director of Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, and the far more exploitative half of exploitation movie tribute Grindhouse.

Where To Stream: Netflix
Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Matt Damon in The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

There may actually be five films in its total run (thus far) plus a TV spin-off, but I like to think of the first three installments as the official and most essential entries of the Bourne franchise, especially with how well the third chapter wraps everything up. The Bourne Ultimatum, which sees former amnesiac Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) still at with the war the CIA and as he struggles to uncover his past as one of their top assassins, is one of director Paul Greengrass’ greatest after taking over the franchise for the second installment and, arguably, the best the franchise has to offer. With its visceral, expertly constructed action, spine-tingling suspense, and earth-shattering revelations, Ultimatum would have cemented the series (based on Robert Ludlum’s novels) as one of Hollywood’s few achievements in near-perfect completion.

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

A franchise with no end in sight, on the other hand, is Mission: Impossible - a modern update of a classic TV series following Tom Cruise’s daredevil IMF agent Ethan Hunt, forced to go rogue again and again and again in order to ensure the world’s safety. The great thing about the franchise is how easily you can argue for any of the six (and counting) entries as the top choice, such as how I believe that the fourth chapter, the live-action debut of The Incredibles director Brad Bird, is the best for a refreshingly inventive approach that brilliantly teeters the line between authentic complexity and old fashioned, popcorn excitement. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol redefined the series by emphasizing the stunts, the team effort, and, most importantly, the fun.

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Renowned author John le Carré released his 1974 espionage novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy at a time when its themes of Cold War-era conflict and paranoid were still highly prevalent amid the discovery of Soviet spies posing as MI6 agents. The tension of those distrusting days lives on decades later in director Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of Le Carré's novel in which Gary Oldman plays a veteran spy forced out of retirement to investigate a rogue agent's claim that a mole is hiding in plain among them. Featuring an all-star supporting cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, and more, Tinker Tailor is a deliciously suspenseful quasi-history lesson in remind audiences that espionage is nothing like the movies.

Where To Stream: Netflix
Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Skyfall (2012)

As I said before, everyone has their own choice of a favorite James Bond movie and I cannot help but side with the $1 billion international hit, Skyfall. In addition to director Sam Mendes’ breakneck action approach, Roger Deakins’ always breathtaking cinematography, and a performance from Daniel Craig more intimate than any actor to play the secret agent before, it is the beautiful result to an experiment in breaking the rules: doing away with a particular Bond girl, de-aging equipment mastermind Q (Ben Whishaw), and giving 007 a soul, as well as a backstory. Not to mention, if any Bond theme is worthy of succeeding Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger,” it has to be Adele’s goosebumps-inducing, Oscar-winner.

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Colin Firth and Taron Egerton in Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)

If there is a film that reflects a child’s imaginative perception of espionage as authentically as Spy Kids, but is certainly not for children’s eyes, it is undoubtedly Matthew Vaughn’s crowning directorial achievement thus far. Based on a comic book series by Mark Millar and Daye Gibbons, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a coming-of-age story following young Eggsy’s (Taron Egerton) recruitment into the titular secret organization by veteran Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who is investigating an eccentric, yet shady, tech billionaire named Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). To call this off-beat, action-packed, and a bit gory instant classic a parody of the spy films would be insulting to its incessant originality and mindblowing surprises from beginning to end, especially at the end.

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

I know that I am probably among the odd ones out here, but I would actually put Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of the 1960s series of the same name above most of the spy movies released in 2015, including Kingsman. Following the unlikely, Cold War-era partnering of gruff KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) with debonair American secret agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is an invigorating re-ignition of the Sean Connery-era, with sleek gadgetry, hilarious action sequences, and an unbridled sense of elegance that Daniel Craig’s iteration of James Bond chose to ignore. Speaking of, Cavill’s scenery-chewing performance is practically his 007 audition tape.

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

What do you think? Are these the kind of espionage flicks you rely on to save your day, or should we have kept our eyes open for more? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for more updates on spy movies of the past and future as well as more streaming recommendations here on CinemaBlend.

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