Top Espionage Movies, Part 2

Mission: Impossible III (2006) / Director: J.J. Abrams / Stars: Tom Cruise, Michelle Monaghan, Ving Rhames, Philip Seymour Hoffman

This is one of the best of the six films starring Cruise as agent Ethan Hunt, as he tries to stop a sadistic arms dealer (the always brilliant Hoffman, here as one of the best movie villains ever) and save his lady love.

Munich (2005) / Director: Steven Spielberg / Stars: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Marie-Josée Croze, Ciarán Hinds

Based on true events, terrorists murder Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, and in retribution five men are chosen to pursue and eliminate those responsible. Bleak, moralistic, realistic — yet highly suspenseful, subtle and touching. One of Spielberg’s very best; a complicated, nuanced tale that goes on for more than two hours and forty minutes, yet doesn’t feel that long.

Three Days of the Condor (1975) / Director: Sydney Pollack / Stars: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow

A CIA researcher returns from lunch to find all his co-workers dead in a townhouse in New York. He has no idea why, and must outwit shadowy forces until he figure it out. Beloved decades after its release for its non-glamorous depiction of the government’s believable, bureaucratic approach to murder and cover-up.

Ronin (1998) / Director: John Frankenheimer / Stars: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård

A “ronin” is a former samurai knight who no longer has a master and now must work freelance, without purpose or honor. Thus does former U.S. operative working for hire (Robert De Niro) track a mysterious package coveted by Irish terrorists and Russian operatives. A decade and a half after its release, the spectacular car chases and double-crosses in this underrated film have few equals.

Goldfinger (1964)

The world’s favorite and most enduring spy goes after epically greedy Auric Goldfinger, who plots to knock over Fort Knox while his Korean bodyguard Odd Job wards off the curious with a steel-brimmed bowler hat. Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 makes its debut, with its tire-shredding hubcaps, machine gun headlights, and passenger seat that disinvites unwanted passengers. And then there’s Shirley Bassey belting out the movie’s iconic song, almost as famous as the series’ theme itself. The greatest of all the Bond films, at least until Casino Royale reinvented the series four decades later with a darker, more brutal and realistic vision.