Top Espionage Movies, Part 6

True Lies (1994) / Director: James Cameron / Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton

The title refers to the secret double life led by apparently mild-mannered Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger), not the actor’s own real life of deception. It’s surprisingly good, and very funny in parts, as Tasker is forced to reveal his true identity as a Bond-like spy to his wife while he tries to stop nuclear terrorists.

Skyfall (2012) / Director: Sam Mendes / Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench

A creepy new villain (the always amazing Bardem) is out for revenge against M, and 007 must confront human mortality and folly as he fights to protect her. Oscar for Best Song to Adele.

Quantum of Solace (2008) / Director: Marc Forster / Stars: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench

A bit of a let down after Casino Royale reignited the series, this Bond flick nevertheless excites as 007 (Craig) and his boss M (Dench) confront the reality and reach of a secret organization whose highly placed operatives profit through all manner of corruption and ruthlessness.

Mission: Impossible IV, Ghost Protocol (2011) Director: Brad Bird / Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton

Agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team are blamed for blowing up part of the Kremlin in Moscow, putting them on the run as they try to outwit and stop the real villain.

Mission: Impossible (1996) / Director: Brian De Palma / Stars: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave, Emmanuelle Béart, Henry Czerny

This film introduces TV’s old M:I series to the big screen, giving Cruise and his production company a stream of work and revenue. Here, secret agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is falsely suspected of disloyalty and must uncover the real spy. A real Euro-spy feeling to this film. Some uneven casting: Redgrave is magnificently evil in her too-small role, Béart a pillow-lipped non-entity in her too-large one.