Five great spy movies

With “Mis­sion: Im­possible — Rogue Na­tion” hit­ting theat­ers, we look back on oth­er spy flicks that kept our pulses ra­cing.

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Tinker Tail­or Sol­dier Spy (2011)

You may just need a guide­book—per­haps the nov­el on which it’s based—to ul­ti­mately grasp the full scope of this mas­ter­ful re­make, but one of its joys is that it of­fers no guard rail for the view­er. In this clandes­tine world cre­ated by au­thor John le Carr&ea­cute;, and visu­al­ized to min­im­al­ist­ic per­fec­tion by dir­ect­or To­mas Al­fred­son, names and codes fly as fast as the bul­lets, and it’s on you to fol­low their trail. The stun­ning Brit­ish cast surely doesn’t hurt the ex­per­i­ence.[if !sup­portEmp­ty­Paras] [en­dif]

The Bourne Ul­ti­mat­um (2007)

Rarely has an ac­tion film been as riv­et­ingly ed­ited as “The Bourne Ul­ti­mat­um,” hand­held mas­ter Paul Green­grass’s vis­ion of the third chapter of Jason Bourne’s (Matt Da­mon) on­screen saga. A former drone spy still hunt­ing to find him­self and piece to­geth­er his past, Bourne trots the globe and the cam­era breath­lessly fol­lows him, catch­ing every bloody knuckle along the way.

The Con­ver­sa­tion (1974)

Though it’s ad­mit­tedly a labor-in­tens­ive movie for view­ers with short at­ten­tion spans (long stretches of si­lence pass like cine­mat­ic molasses), Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola’s “The Con­ver­sa­tion” is nev­er­the­less a tightly-wound clas­sic — in­dic­at­ive of the make-your-own-rules artistry of ‘70s van­guard flicks. Gene Hack­man leads the cast as a con­flic­ted sur­veil­lance ex­pert, whose con­science takes over as he spies on an ill-fated couple.

True Lies (1994)

Leave it to dir­ect­or James Camer­on to make the best, go-big-or-go-home spy film of the 1990s. An ac­tion-com­edy, “True Lies” stars the un­likely pair of Arnold Schwar­zeneg­ger and Jam­ie Lee Curtis, a cheery couple whose do­mest­ic life is upen­ded when she learns he’s in the CIA. Things really heat up when she joins the team, go­ing from happy home­maker to femme fatale.[if !sup­portEmp­ty­Paras] [en­dif]

North by North­w­est (1959)

One of many at­mo­spher­ic clas­sics to come from the great Al­fred Hitch­cock, “North by North­w­est” pairs Cary Grant and Eva Mar­ie Saint in a cross-coun­try sur­viv­al story crammed with icon­ic visu­als. Sum­ming up the movie in a single shot (Grant’s New York ad­man is per­petu­ally on the run), the most fam­ous im­age from “North by North­w­est” is that of Grant be­ing chased by a plane as he scrambles on foot. Word to the wise: Don’t get mixed up with spies. 


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