Top Espionage Movies, Part 4

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) / Director: Kathryn Bigelow / Stars: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton

An obsesssed CIA agent (Chastain) hunts for Osama bin Laden for years. Initially praised for its verisimilitude, the film was harshly criticized by U.S. Senators McCain and Feinstein for depicting scenes that seemed to indicate that the U.S. gained valuable intelligence through torture, when it evidently didn’t.

The Parallax View (1974) / Director: Alan J. Pakula / Stars: Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, William Daniels

A reporter (Beatty) investigating the assassination of a senator uncovers a vast conspiracy involving a multinational corporation that covertly controls the world.

Black Book (2006) / Director: Paul Verhoeven / Stars: Carice van Houton, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman

Best known for Basic Instinct and Showgirls, Verhoeven shows off his war chops in this well-plotted WWII survival tale of a Jewish singer who beds Nazis in order to spy on them.

Inception (2010) / Director: Christopher Nolan / Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe

If a man can pull of a mind-bendingly difficult assignment, his payment will be a chance to relive the past. Playing with notions of reality, this beautifully orchestrated, complicated film is hardly your run-of-the-mill espionage thriller: here the game is spying on people’s dreams.

Salt (2010) / Director: Phillip Noyce / Stars: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Olbrychski

A Russian defector accuses a CIA agent of being a Russian spy, but why? This flick was slammed by reviewers, professional and amateur alike, as being over the top and ridiculous in its implausibility. Who cares? It is great fun, and few actors hold the screen like Jolie, who is magnificent as the ultimate spy-within-spy-within-spy. She also pulled off many of her own stunts, of which there are many.