31 Best Spy Movies – Espionage Thrillers to Stream in 2022


best spy movies

IMDb

A running list of stressful careers that are 100 percent not for me: surgeon, teacher, airline pilot, hedge fund manager, and—probably most notably—spy. However! Just because I personally cannot imagine myself handling the high-stake demands of an espionage agent doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good spy thriller. The best spy movies provide all the thrill of covert investigations without any of the risk, and if you’re in need of an action-packed flick for your next movie night, I’ve got some recs that’ll have you tempted to apply for a CIA job yourself…or not. ’Cause, ya know, stress.

Just a heads-up: This roundup doesn’t include any movies from franchises—so no James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan, or Ethan Hunt to be found here—because otherwise we’d be here all day. But fear not—there are TONS of stand-alone spy thrillers worth two hours of your time, from classics (like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Spy Game) to newer additions to genre (like Red Joan and Red Sparrow). In the mood for double agents, double-crossing, and a whole lot of Brad Pitt? Then keep scrolling for all the best espionage movies available to stream right now for a thrilling good time. And yes, all these movies will def get you hype for the highly anticipated Mr. and Mrs. Smith reboot coming to Amazon Prime sometime in 2022 (!!).

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1

The Courier (2020)

Set in the ’60s, this historical spy flick tells the real-life story of Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch), a British businessman who MI6 tapped to relay messages to the high-ranking Soviet official secretly providing intelligence to the West.

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2

Red Joan (2019)

Another wild true-story-turned-movie, Red Joan revolves around real-life KGB spy Melita Norwood who—while working as a secretary for a British research group—was secretly supplying the Soviet Union with nuclear secrets on the side.

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3

A Call to Spy (2020)

Yet another spy thriller inspired by a true story, A Call to Spy is about three very different women who joined Churchill’s all-female spy agency at the beginning of WWII to help undermine the Nazi regime in France.

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4

Red Sparrow (2018)

J. Law stars as Dominika Egorova, a former ballerina living in Russia who—following a career-ending injury—enrolls in Sparrow School, where she trains to become a deadly spy…although she soon meets her match in a first-tour CIA agent.

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5

Atomic Blonde (2017)

Set right before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Atomic Blonde stars Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton, an elite MI6 spy who’s tasked with taking down an espionage ring in Berlin—although the mission proves more dangerous than she initially realized.

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6

Official Secrets (2019)

If you don’t know the story of whistleblower Katharine Gun, then it’s high time to learn it. This drama stars Natalie Portman as British intelligence specialist Gun, who attempted to prevent the invasion of Iraq in early 2003 after learning about an illegal spying operation.

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7

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Ofc you can’t have a spy movie roundup without Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Set in London during the early ’70s, this flick follows the hunt for a Soviet double agent at the top of British Intelligence, and it’s a truly wild ride.

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8

Salt (2010)

Angelina Jolie stars in this one as the titular Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative who must go on the run to try to clear her name after being accused of being a double agent for the KGB.

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9

Traitor (2008)

In Traitor, Don Cheadle plays a Sudanese American former Special Ops soldier and devout Muslim who becomes the prime suspect in a string of explosions targeting civilians. This one will truly keep you guessing until the very end.

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10

Shadow Dancer (2012)

Set in 1990s Belfast toward the end of the Northern Ireland conflict, Shadow Dancer tells the story of a single mother and IRA member who is caught by a British agent and then given an impossible ultimatum: spy on her comrades or go to prison.

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11

Body of Lies (2008)

Starring Leo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, this one is set in the Middle East, following the attempts of a CIA operative, his superior, and the head of Jordanian Intelligence to catch the elusive terrorist aligned with Al-Qaeda.

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12

The East (2013)

Starring Alexander Skarsgård and Elliot Page, this wildly underrated spy thriller follows an undercover operative for a private intelligence firm who’s tasked with infiltrating “the East,” an ecoterrorism organization.

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13

Lust, Caution (2007)

Set during WWII, this v sexy espionage drama follows a secret agent who’s tasked with seducing (and then killing) an official who works for the Japanese puppet government in Shanghai. However, her mission becomes trickier when she engages in a wild love affair with him instead. Oops.

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14

Allied (2016)

Sure, it may have been a box office flop, but Allied still deserves a watch, IMO. In it, Brad Pitt plays a Canadian intelligence officer who must pretend to be married to a French Resistance fighter (Marion Cotillard) during a mission in 1942 Casablanca…and ofc they end up actually falling in love.

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15

The Debt (2010)

With an A+ cast that includes Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, and Jessica Chastain, this thriller tells the story of three young Israeli Mossad agents who successfully capture and kill a Nazi war criminal…or so they think.

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16

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Set during the Cold War, this historical drama tells the story of real-life NYC lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), who was recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate the release of a U.S. pilot captured by the Soviet Union…in exchange for a convicted spy who Donovan once defended in court.

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17

Haywire (2011)

This action-packed flick follows a highly trained black ops operative (Gina Carano) who—after she is betrayed by her employers and targeted for assassination—must set a trap and learn the truth behind the double cross. Fun fact: Carano performs all her own stunts in this one.

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18

Burn After Reading (2008)

Uh, who said spy movies couldn’t be funny? This dark comedy (which has a legit STACKED cast) revolves around two delusional gym employees who accidentally mistake an ex-CIA analyst’s memoir-in-progress for classified government documents…and then attempt to profit off it. Chaos follows, obv.

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19

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Although this one revolves around a fictitious CIA intelligence analyst (Jessica Chastain), it follows the very real story of the nearly decade-long international manhunt for Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks, and it’s seriously fascinating.

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20

Munich (2005)

Another movie based on real-life events, Munich tells the story of the Israeli American security consultant (Eric Bana) who was assigned to retaliate against the Palestine Liberation Organization after a dozen Israelis were murdered at the 1972 Olympics.

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21

The Imitation Game (2014)

This historical drama revolves around the real-life story of cryptanalyst Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), who was recruited by MI6 to crack Nazi codes in 1939 and lauded as a hero…only to be imprisoned a little over a decade later after authorities revealed he was gay.

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22

The Good Shepherd (2006)

Matt Damon stars in this one as a no-nonsense CIA officer heading covert operations during the Bay of Pigs Invasion who begins to question his unerring loyalty to the agency while investigating a potential leak.

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23

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

In Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last movie before his 2014 death, he plays a German agent who attempts to catch a respected Muslim philanthropist—who he suspects is financing terrorists—and bring him to justice.

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24

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)

Yes, you may think of Mr. and Mrs. Smith as the movie that ended Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s marriage, but it’s still really good, okay?? The ~spicy~ plot follows a married couple who realizes they’re both trained assassins hired to kill each other, and things get even wilder from there.

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25

The Exception (2016)

Looking for some romance? You’ll love this war drama, which follows a German soldier who’s on a mission to investigate an exiled Kaiser, but instead gets distracted by a love affair with the Kaiser’s maid (Lily James).

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26

Duplicity (2009)

More romance! This unexpected espionage rom-com stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen as two former government operates-turned-corporate spies at rival companies whose latest missions have them in hot competition (and yes, things def get ~steamy~).

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27

Argo (2012)

In Argo, Ben Affleck plays a professional extractor who’s tasked with rescuing six U.S. diplomats from Iran. His plan: to pose as the producer of an upcoming Hollywood sci-fi movie—and believe it or not, Argo is based on real-life events.

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28

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

Henry Cavill stars in this one as Napoleon Solo, a CIA agent who is forced to work with a KGB agent when both the U.S. and the Soviet Union are threatened by a mysterious criminal organization at the height of the Cold War.

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29

Breach (2007)

This wild movie recounts the true story of Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent who—back in 2001—was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union (and later Russia) for more than two decades.

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30

Spy Game (2001)

An oldie but a goodie, Spy Game follows a CIA operative on the verge of retirement who must get back in the game after he learns that his protégé (Brad Pitt) has been arrested in China on a charge of espionage.

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31

Spy (2015)

Hear me out: Spy is a legitimately good movie, and Melissa McCarthy as a CIA analyst-turned-undercover agent is a comedic genius, trust.

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