The best spy movies to stream on Netflix – Entertainment Weekly News

Nothing hits the spot quite like a good spy movie when you're longing for intrigue with a little international flair. This thrilling and diverse genre has it all — stellar action sequences, A-list actors, and budgets to bring you to your knees. Whether you're looking for the beautifully choreographed fights in The Gray Man, the hair-raising stunts in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, or a hidden gem you've never heard of before, Netflix has you covered. Here are the best spy movies streaming on the service right now.
Daniel Craig‘s first Bond film rejuvenated the long-running franchise, making 007 a leaner, meaner, and more modern spy. In his first mission as 007, Bond engages in a high-stakes poker game to bankrupt terrorist Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) but falls tragically in love with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), the British treasury agent bankrolling his game. In this reboot, M (Judi Dench) views Bond as a “blunt instrument” as he’s just earned his license to kill, but hasn’t quite evolved into the stylish gentleman he’d later become.
Casino Royale can take much credit for relaunching a long-standing franchise with a notably humanized version of the legendary character. As EW’s reviewer put it, “It turns Bond into a human being again — a gruffly charming yet volatile chap who may be the swank king stud of the Western world, but who still has room for rage, fear, vulnerability, love.” Although the Craig era of Bond films has been filled with highs (Skyfall) and lows (Quantum of Solace), Casino Royale is undoubtedly a forever face on the franchise’s Mount Rushmore, giving 007 a nuance and depth for future renditions to live up to. 
If you liked Casino Royale, you might also enjoy: Skyfall, streaming on Netflix.
Ken vs. Captain America! While on a mission, CIA agent Six (Ryan Gosling) learns his supervisor Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page) is running unsanctioned assassination operations. When Six refuses to play ball, Carmichael sends smarmy, murderous, child kidnapper Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) to eliminate him no matter how much collateral damage it causes.  
The Evans vs Gosling battle in The Gray Man is a winner. According to EW’s Leah Greenblatt, “Evans, smirking like a catbird, is the movie’s main antagonist, and his pairing with Gosling is the pretty-man Godzilla vs. Kong most viewers came to see.” While it wasn’t shown much love by critics, Evans’ snarky banter straight out of the Movie Villain 101 playbook combined with Gosling’s Jason Bourne impression make for a wild ride. 
If you liked The Gray Man, you might also enjoy: The Bourne Identity, streaming on HBO Max.
Based on real life events, Official Secrets tells the story of Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley), a translator turned whistleblower who leaks a top-secret memo exposing an illegal spying operation conducted by American and British intelligence agencies before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Katharine refuses to be silenced by her government as her leak becomes public, leading to much political and personal turmoil as she stands her ground to do what’s right. 
In her review, EW’s Leah Greenblatt stated, “…it’s hard not to be moved by the singular passion of a woman who effectively dismantled her own life — not just to salve her conscience but to save, as she saw it, the soul of a nation.” Official Secrets flew under the radar when it was released in 2019, but it remains one of Knightley’s best, most powerful, and most underrated performances. 
If you liked Official Secrets, you might also enjoy: Nothing But the Truth, streaming on Peacock.
Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is a former US diplomat who lost his wife in Beirut in 1972 during a home invasion by terrorists, who also kidnapped a boy named Karim that the couple had been raising. Ten years later, the former Kissinger protege is an alcoholic working a menial job before he’s forced back into service by the CIA. Now, Karim is the leader of a PLO subgroup, specifically asking for Skiles to broker a delicate hostage negotiation, bringing his personal and professional life to a tense, thrilling intersection. 
According to EW’s review, “Beirut is the kind of wordy, complex drama that doesn’t get much multiplex traction anymore, even though it’s gilded with great-looking movie stars (including Rosamund Pike as a CIA minder who makes every flak jacket look like Dior) and rooted in still-timely conflicts.” Although dialogue-heavy and not as action-packed as some of the other films on this list, our boozy, sweaty, five o’clock shadow-wearing Hamm proves he can carry a film — as opposed to the complementary characters he often plays — when given the right role. 
If you liked Beirut, you might also enjoy: The Town, streaming on Netflix and HBO Max.
Truth is often stranger than fiction, as seen in Argo, the true story of CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), who enlists the help of a Hollywood producer (Alan Arkin) and a makeup artist (John Goodman) to create a fictional science fiction film. The daring ruse, dubbed the “Canadian Caper,” is used to extract six Americans during the initial stages of the 1979-1981 Iran hostage crisis. 
After receiving critical acclaim for directing Gone Baby Gone and The Town, one would think Ben Affleck hit his directorial apex with Argo, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2013. Yet somehow, Affleck wasn’t among the Best Director nominees (Ang Lee won that year for Life of Pi). But that doesn’t mean critics didn’t recognize his achievement. “Having proved, with The Town (2010), that he’s a crackerjack director, Affleck now ups his game,” EW’s Owen Gleiberman said in his review, “applying a wizardly finesse to one of the darkest chapters of recent American history.” 
If you liked Argo, you might also enjoy: The Accountant, available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team (Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton) embark on their fourth mission in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which starts with the crew infiltrating the Kremlin to get information on a nuclear strategist codenamed Cobalt. But the mission is ruined when Hunt’s cover is blown, the Kremlin is destroyed, and the IMF is blamed. The president then initiates Ghost Protocol, disavowing Hunt and his team who go on the run and pull off a daring caper outside the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, to help prove the IMF’s innocence. 
In EW writer Darren Franich’s recent ranking of the Mission: Impossible movies, Ghost Protocol came out on top. Franich states, “Cruise has his best Mission squad ever” and a back to basics approach leads to a “$145 million globe-trotting blockbuster about the virtues of just winging it.” Ghost Protocol‘s ending, which features a fight in a car vending machine, looks like something out of a Fast & Furious movie, but it’s Cruise’s climb outside the Burj Khalifa that makes the film unforgettable. A panning shot by director Brad Bird over and around Ethan Huntas he steps out an open window 123 stories up is nothing short of vertigo-inducing in the best way possible. 
If you liked Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, you might also enjoy: Mission: Impossible and Mission: Impossible 2, streaming on Netflix.
Thirty years ago, the internet was still in its infancy, but the writers of The Net could already see how it could be used for nefarious purposes. Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock) has her life erased by sly corporate fixer Jack Devlin (Jeremy Northam) after she accidentally comes across a dangerous computer program that can hack any system. We then watch as Angela uses her tech skills to get her life back while exposing a massive government and corporate conspiracy in the same swoop.  
The Net is carried by its charismatic star, who “…has it all — heart and soul, and mind, too.” according to EW’s critic. “Danger makes her blossom, and when she’s sitting in front of a computer keyboard, tapping into forbidden systems, her concentration is so compelling that we get the oddly ticklish sensation we’re thinking right along with her.” Decades later, The Net’s themes of identity theft, cyberterrorism, and misinformation feel prescient, for better or for worse. 
If you liked The Net, you might also enjoy: Antitrust, streaming on Tubi.
Sometimes that pot-smoking convenience store clerk is a lot more than he seems. That’s what Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) discover when CIA agent Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) activates the unsuspecting stoner through a series of code words. An undercover agent that’s had his memory suppressed, Mike unlocks his deadly CIA training when he’s targeted for extermination. 
Loaded with fun cameos (Tony Hale, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman, Walton Goggins), dark humor, and over-the-top action, EW critic Leah Greenblatt called the movie “a fun mess” and commented that Topher Grace “proves once again that he’s excellent at putting an aw-shucks face on sociopathy.” Although it wasn’t a box office hit, American Ultra has developed a cult following after audiences embraced its darker tone hidden by Eisenberg’s carefree stoner that was featured in trailers.  
If you liked American Ultra, you might also enjoy: Spy, streaming on Amazon Prime Video (with ads) and on Disney+.
The first entry of the Jack Ryan film series is based on the bestselling 1984 Tom Clancy novel of the same name. Set during the Cold War, CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) believes Russian captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) and the senior crew of the new silent-running submarine Red October are looking to defect. Ryan must not only convince his own dubious commanders that he’s right, but also prove to Ramius that he understands the sub captain’s intentions. If not handled correctly, it could lead to World War III. 
“At first, Alec Baldwin is disconcertingly boyish as Ryan, the anonymous CIA analyst thrust into heroism,” writes EW’s critic. “But he grows on you; the film needs his slightly geeky, head-of-the-class wit.” But the spy thriller isn’t just buoyed by yet another stellar performance from Baldwin. Our critic also praised the “crackerjack turns by Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones, Courtney B. Vance (as that new screen type, the techno-hipster), and, especially, Richard Jordan, who plays the national security adviser as a charmingly up-front Reagan-era buccaneer.” 
Directed by John McTiernan (Die Hard), The Hunt for Red October would be Baldwin’s first and only turn as Jack Ryan, but the classic Clancy character has been kept alive by the likes of Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Chris Pine, and John Krasinski, the last of whom stars in a TV series
If you liked The Hunt for Red October, you might also enjoy: Crimson Tide, available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.
Enjoyable spy movies don’t always have to take themselves seriously, as Red Notice, an action spy comedy, clearly demonstrates. John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) is an FBI criminal profiler assigned to assist an Interpol agent in catching international art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds). However, the duo are both outwitted by Booth’s rival, The Bishop (Gal Gadot), leading to a globe-trotting chase, a bevy of one-liners at Dwayne Johnson’s expense, and plot twists galore. 
In an interview with EW, director Rawson Marshall Thurber likened  Red Notice as “Fast & Furious 9.5,” while also citing Johnson and Reynolds’ real-life bromance as an asset to the film. “They have incredible chemistry together both on set and off,” said Thurber. “When the cameras aren’t rolling, they’re yukking it up just as much as they are when we put them in front of the camera.” While thin on plot and heavy on over-the-top action, Red Notice‘s playful nature is enough to justify its two upcoming sequels, with all its stars and the director set to return. 
If you liked Red Notice, you might also enjoy: Fast Five, streaming on Peacock.
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