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11 Great Spy Flicks You Can Stream on Netflix Right Now

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 26/10/2015 The Daily Dot

2015-10-15-1444939113-7841652-2663311366_29e17341c8_z.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-15-1444939113-7841652-2663311366_29e17341c8_z.jpg BY DAVID WHARTON
They're cool, calm, collected, clever, cunning, and -- if they're doing their jobs right -- uncatchable. Meet some of the greatest spies on Netflix today.
1.Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is a CIA analyst whose job is on the books... literally. Joe's job is to pore over books, magazines, and newspaper articles in search of patterns, hidden meanings, or even just ideas that dangerous people might decide to bring off the page and into reality. So he's thoroughly unprepared when he returns from a lunch break to find all of his co-workers gunned down by unknown assailants. After his official rendezvous to bring him in "out of the cold" results in him nearly being killed by another assassin, Joe realizes he can't even trust those within his own organization, and he's going to have to piece together what's going on or die trying. Faye Dunaway won a Golden Globe for her performance as an innocent bystander turned ally whose apartment Joe commandeers, and Max von Sydow steals scenes as a morally flexible hit man with an unfailingly pragmatic view of the world.
2. Marathon Man (1976)
I love the James Bond/Mission: Impossible style of action-heavy spy thriller as much as the next guy, but there's a lot to be said for throwing an everyman protagonist into that world of intrigue and watching them just try to survive. At least Redford's Joe Turner actually works for the CIA; Thomas Levy (Dustin Hoffman) is only related to a government agent, but the death of his brother (Roy Scheider) is still enough to put him on a collision course with a scheme involving Nazi war criminals, stolen diamonds, and non-elective oral surgery.


Poor Thomas has the bad luck to be a guy who knows nothing but whom very bad people are convinced does know something, and one of those people is a sadistic former Nazi with a love of unanesthetized dentistry. The infamous torture scenes are both cringe-inducing and justifiably iconic, and Marathon Man earned Sir Laurence Olivier another in a long line of career highlights: a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role as Dr. Szell. It's safe to say Marathon Man is a must-see classic.
3. Top Secret! (1984)
James Bond has been known to keep his tongue in his cheek (when it's not in someone else's mouth), but for the most part, the spy thriller genre takes itself pretty seriously. As such, it's perfectly positioned for lampooning, and the Airplane! team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker lampooned the hell out of it with their underrated classic Top Secret! (Those guys love them an exclamation point.) Val Kilmer plays Nick Rivers, an American rocker who travels to East Germany and gets ensnared in a Resistance mission to rescue a brilliant captive scientist. I know, I know, it all sounds like the plot of some bad movie [looks awkwardly at the camera]. The unstoppable barrage of jokes, puns, and sight gags will make you long for a time before parody flicks had been run into the ground by the Scary Movie franchise and its ilk, and there's a solid argument to be made that the Zucker/Abrahams team was never better -- certainly, Kilmer was never better (except for maybe in Real Genius). For whatever reason, Top Secret! never got the acclaim of Airplane! or the Naked Gun movies, but it's absolutely worthy of keeping that company.
4-6. The Hunt for Red October (1990) / Patriot Games (1992) / Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Not every spy-thriller hero can spend their days gunning down parkour-running terrorists and bedding femmes fatale. Like Three Days of the Condor's Joe Turner, Jack Ryan is a CIA analyst, more adept at using his noggin than a Walther PPK. Ryan is arguably the most famous creation of novelist Tom Clancy, all three of the original Ryan films are currently available on Netflix Instant. In The Hunt for Red October, an esteemed Soviet submarine commander (Sean Connery) goes rogue, planning either to defect or to unleash nuclear armageddon on the U.S. -- and it's up to Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) to discover which. In Patriot Games, an act of spontaneous heroism puts Ryan (Harrison Ford) in the crosshairs of a vindictive IRA terrorist determined to take his grudge out on both Ryan and his family. In Clear and Present Danger, Ryan (Ford again) takes on both South American drug cartels and disreputable elements within his own government. The Jack Ryan character has been rebooted twice in the years since -- played by Ben Affleck in 2002's The Sum of All Fears and by Chris Pine in 2014's Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit -- but nobody has yet topped Harrison Ford in the role.
7. Mission: Impossible (1996)
Netflix Instant is decidedly lacking in the big spy action icons at the moment: no Bonds, no Bournes, not even a Bauer. Thankfully the freshman outing of another venerable modern spy franchise is available, should you chose to stream it. Mission: Impossible could have been just another forgettable remake of familiar I.P., but director Brian De Palma and screenwriters David Koepp and Robert Towne provided enough twists and turns to relaunch a franchise that is still going strong nearly 20 years later. (The fifth installment, Rogue Nation, has earned nearly half a billion dollars worldwide since its release on July 31, and a sixth film is already in the works.) Based on the hit '60s TV series created by Bruce Geller, Mission: Impossible stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, a member of the Impossible Missions Force, a covert agency tasked with handling, well, impossible missions. When one such mission goes bad, Hunt's entire team is killed, leaving him on the run and suspected as a mole by his own government. In order to clear his name and bring the true culprits to light, Hunt must form a new team of former IMF agents and stage a heist that seems... well, you know. Mission: Impossible II is also currently available on Netflix Instant, but you would be well advised to just pretend that entire film self destructed before it made it to screen.
8. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)
Of all the films on this list, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is definitely the weirdest. And I say that with full knowledge that Top Secret! includes an entire sequence that was shot backwards. Based on a memoir by The Dating Game creator Chuck Barris, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind chronicles Barris's life as a game show host, TV producer, and globe-trotting assassin for the Central Intelligence Agency. And yeah, that last part is pretty much why Wikipedia includes a "citation needed" option. Needless to say, Barris's stories of moonlighting as a government hit man are considered dubious by many, and the CIA itself has given his claims the official governmental designation of "horse puckey." Then again, who would you suspect of being a trained killer less than the guy who gave the world The Gong Show? If anything, I'd expect him to be the target of assassins. Either way, it makes for one hell of an entertaining yarn, and Confessions star Sam Rockwell is a hoot and a half in the role of Barris, with director George Clooney serving dual duty as the CIA agent who recruits him.


9. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
When it comes to assassination plots, it doesn't get much bigger than trying to kill Adolf Hitler. And while several real-world attempts failed to take down the German dictator, Quentin Tarantino's World War II epic spins a ripping good yarn imagining what could have been. The flick actually follows two separate plots to take down Der Führer: one by the so-called "Basterds" themselves, a group of Jewish-American soldiers led by the grizzled Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), and the other by a young French theater owner who's nursing a very personal grudge against the Third Reich. Eventually the dueling conspiracies join forces, culminating in a truly unforgettable night at the movies and one of the most audacious film endings ever recorded. Basterds is easily one of Tarantino's finest films, and the movie would be worth your time even if all it ever accomplished was to introduce the world to Christoph Waltz. The German-Austrian actor's brilliant performance as the Jew-hunting SS agent Hans Landa provides both a screen villain worthy of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the genre's best and one of the most nail-bitingly intense opening sequences I've ever seen.
10. The Debt (2010)
Like Inglourious Basterds, The Debt focuses on a team of crack Nazi hunters, but it takes place long after the final shots of World War II were fired. Director John Madden's thriller opens in 1997 at a ceremony celebrating the release of a book recounting how, in 1965, a trio of Israeli intelligence agents tracked down and killed a notorious Nazi war criminal, the so-called "Surgeon of Birkenau." After one of those now-aged Mossad agents meets with a tragic end, flashbacks begin to peel back the layers of the story and reveal the truth about what happened all those years ago -- a truth that isn't quite as neat and tidy as the official account claims. The story unfolds in both the past and the present, showing how young Rachel Singer's (Jessica Chastain) capture of her target went wrong, and following older Rachel's (Helen Mirren) attempts to set things right and finish her mission after many long years of spinning a lie. (The Debt is a remake of the 2007 Israeli film Ha-Hov.)
11. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
It took over three decades for John le Carré's 1974 novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to make it to the big screen, but director Tomas Alfredson pulled out all the stops, assembling a frankly ridiculous cast that includes Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, Toby Jones, and Mark Strong. Oldman earned an Oscar nomination for his performance as George Smiley, a former British intelligence agent who was forced into retirement after the death of an agent and the international incident that followed. He's called back into the game for a good old-fashioned mole hunt: Rumor has it there's a traitor embedded somewhere inside British Intelligence, and it's his job to smoke them out. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy also picked up a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for writers Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan. (Le Carré's novel was previously adapted into an acclaimed 1979 BBC TV miniseries starring Alec Guiness as Smiley.)
Photo via Anonymous 9000/Flickr By C.C. 2.0A version of this story originally appeared on the Daily Dot.

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