Secret agents live very secretive, sneaky and mysterious lives. So mysterious, that what we only know of them is based on books and movies.
During the Cold War, the outlook of agents rapidly increased into well-groomed cosmopolitan men. Even today, that particular image still continues to be portrayed in 21st century movies. One perfect epitome of what we mean is the Bond franchise. Nonetheless, secret agents can come in many different looks as it was proven in the movie American Ultra.
Therefore, it’s time to see who are the best of the best secret agents in the movie business.
25. Jimmy Tong – The Tuxedo (2002)
Jackie Chan played the role of an ordinary taxi driver who was then transformed in to a suave secret agent with a touch of technological magic. The trick here is that their mind-bottling perfection of skills and oozing self-confidence comes from, not years of extensive training, but from the tuxedo itself.
One of the highlights of the movie was when Chan confusingly and anxiously fought the bad guys while still trying to understand how the tuxedo technology worked.
24. Derek Flint – Our Man Flint (1966)
Our Man Flint was the all-time spy movie during the 60’s, even before Austin Powers! An evil scientist had a diabolical plan to viciously create sudden changes in weather to rule the world. Chief Cramden rings top agent Derek Flint to take care of business. His martial arts skills were shockingly incredible and charming at the same time.
23. Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin – The Man From U.N.C.L.E (2015)
An unidentified mysterious alliance comes up with a plan to destroy the friendship between the United States and the Soviet Union. Coming from opposite sides, CIA agent, Napoleon Solo and KGB agent, Illya Kuryakin, worked back to back to save the world. They were mortal enemies, forcefully turned to fighting partners with no time for hesitation or reluctance. The action sequences of both agents are aggressively clever and excruciatingly delightful.
22. Phil Coulson – Iron Man 2, Thor, The Avengers (2010-2012)
Coulson is popular for his astounding support roles in the history of Marvel Films. His flexibility and carefree persona made him explicitly amazing in every role he had ever portrayed. Partaking in roles revolving around an iron-covered billionaire, a god from an outside-realm and a gang of superheroes, all made him such a great agent.
21. Harry Tasker – True Lies (1994)
As soon as the James Bond series took a break between 1989 and the mid-90’s, Arnold Schwarzenegger came in to the picture. Schwarzenegger is an undercover agent named Harry Tasker who kept his life as a spy a secret from his wife and daughter, making them believe that he was a computer salesman. From the sophisticated suit down to acquainting with fierce ladies, Tasker had it all going on. Even though he might not be as subtle as Bond, but he is exceptionally creative when it came to his spy skills.
20. Mallory Kane – Haywire (2011)
Gina Carano, an MMA fighter, played the role of a tough undercover agent in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. She perfectly portrayed the modern touch of a female agent. In her world full of treachery and ‘wanna-be’ wrongdoers, she manages to keep her head up high and continued to defeat the opposite sex.
19. Harry Hart – Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
The film revolved around the life of a street kid, from being practically helpless to getting recruited by a spy organization for immediate intensive training. The spy organization’s representative that recruits this street kid was, Harry Hart himself, the shining element of the movie. The mixture of Hart’s kindness and passion to avenge and stop evil is stimulating.
18. Agents K and J – Men in Black (1997-2012)
One of the most iconic agent duos in the history of spy movies. Agent K (Tommy Lee) and Agent J (Will Smith) partner their way through ceasing extraterrestrial shenanigans happening in the world without alerting the public. An action packed film with a touch of silliness and comedy is what made this movie a hit.
17. John Mason – The Rock (1996)
Sean Connery in his 60’s, doing physically challenging stunts, is something to not miss out on. Mason is a British intelligence operative in his mid-60’s who steals sensitive files from the FBI. This leads to him getting locked up for 33 years, but yet still maintains to escape by digging himself out. Only to find out that another mission is waiting for him outside the prison walls.
16. Susan Cooper – Spy (2015)
Melissa McCarthy has an ordinary role as a CIA agent doing all work from behind a desk. When her field partner, Bradley Fine dies she decides to move out from her comfort zone and battle on the field. Cooper’s unpredictable decision-making abilities and spy-like moves are to die for in this movie. It incorporates humor, sass, sarcasm and action, all at the same time.
15. Felix Leiter – The Bond Series (1962)
Felix Leiter is James Bond’s trusted and closest ally in the CIA. Leiter was played by a number of well-known actors. We have Jack Lord, Cec Linder, Rik Van Nutter in the 1960’s and all the way down to Jeffrey Wright in the 2000’s.
14. Evelyn Salt – Salt (2010)
We are used to seeing Angelina Jolie in agent-like, action-packed roles. It is one of her signature trademarks in the world of action films. In the movie Salt, she played an unpredictable role as a spy to which she somehow works for both the US and Russia. That uncertainty to which side she’s on kept us on the edge of our seat up until the very end of the film. Despite the eagerness to find out the truth, what made the movie even more dazzling is Jolie’s overall performance. She successfully characterized being dangerous, mischievous, deceitful and a traitor. All the things we love lol…
13. Edgar Brodie – Secret Agent (1936)
An old classic thriller in the 30’s that was handcrafted by Alfred Hitchcock. A British Captain and Novelist, Edgar Brodie, takes leave and goes home during World War I. By then, he confusingly finds out that his own death has been written in the newspaper. He meets a man who gives him an undercover mission with a newly given identity to stop a German Agent from causing havoc in the Middle East.
12. Bruce Lee – Enter the Dragon (1973)
Bruce Lee is not the typical agent-type of man we usually see on screen. In this movie, which was his last and most famous movie, we get to witness the spy in Bruce Lee. He was contacted by the British Intelligence to go on a secret mission. He gets to invade a villain’s secret hideout, expose a huge drug operation and go head-to-head with Han.
11. Jack Ryan – The Hunt for Red (1990)
Another film that was adapted in five films and the main role was starred by a number of actors. Jack Ryan was the CIA’s analyst but inescapably finds himself on a mission to help save the country. Harrison Ford’s take of Jack Ryan is by far the best one there is. He was clever, persistent and mostly used his analytical skills rather than his combat skills to escape any situation and win any battle.
10. Alec Leamas – The Spy who Came in From the Cold (1965)
Alec Leamas is a British agent who was caught in an intelligence conspiracy during the Cold War. The Spy who Came in From the Cold was based on a John le Carré novel. The novel described the hurdles that a spy has to go through amidst traitors.
9. Ethan Hunt – Mission Impossible franchise (1996-2015)
The Mission Impossible series is a spy action movie starred by Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. All the series had one thing in common, mind-blowing, unpredictable and shocking revelations. Ethan Hunt came off a rebelling spy against his own organization because he was accused of something he was framed for. Hunt displays a character with tactical intelligence and outstanding perseverance that makes the movie more compelling to watch.
8. Joe Turner – Three Days of The Condor (1975)
Spies and agents are intentionally made mysterious and ambiguous which in turn makes it difficult for any director or actor. Robert Redford plays this elusive character of Joe Turner who starts as a CIA analyst, but things escalate quickly as he is chosen to unravel and fulfill a mission.
7. Gunther Bachmann – A Most Wanted Man (2014)
Philip Seymour Hoffman displayed extraordinary and astounding skills in this novel-based movie. He lured us into a world of secrecy and trickery. Unfortunately, this was his final performance, yet one of his best ones. He was the ideal cast to be the leader of an undercover counter-terrorist team.
6. Nikita – La Femme Nikita (1990)
Nikita was in a stage of drug remission to which she faced a decision that eventually change her life. It was either die in prison or train to become an agent. She gradually transforms into a death-dealing, life-threatening wonder. Her hesitation to become an undercover agent and state assassin was what made the movie even more entertaining.
5. Alicia Huberman – Notorious (1964)
Another masterpiece of Alfred Hitchcock was his classic thriller Notorious with Alicia Huberman pioneering the spy game for women. Huberman was the daughter of a convicted German Spy who led her to serve as an agent for the Americans. Her mission involved invading a group of Nazis in Brazil. She was caught in a love triangle between a US agent and a Nazi. Her character drew us to her admirable inner strength and the way she balanced her emotion from her missions.
4. Jason Bourne – The Bourne Series (2002-present)
Matt Damon continues to mesmerize us with his captivating role as Jason Bourne in the unending series of the Bourne movies. He exudes aggressiveness, toughness and the skills that we all desired. His dark past that marked him as the dark horse is the factor that glues us to the movie. He delivers a different taste of a spy. He uses pens and books as his combat gears and drives around in junk-old cars. Yet, completely manages to win his fights and complete his missions.
3. George Smiley – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Another John le Carré novel-based movie pushed the standards high after having an all-star cast in the movie. Including, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, John Hurt and Benedict Cumberbatch. Gary Oldman, as George Smiley, is British Intelligence who is remarkable for his rational thinking rather athletic skills. As deserving as he is, he was nominated for an Academy Award because of his applauding role in the film.
2. Harry Palmer – The Ipcress File (1965)
The role of Harry Palmer is more ironic than that of a typical 60’s spy. His character embodies what a typical ‘smart-brain’ usually looks for in movies. He wears glasses, casual clothes, has cooking as his hobby and he cracks jokes that can make someone cringe. Due to his alluring perfection attempt of this role, it opened doors to play the character four more times in different movies.
1. James Bond
The all-time spy film that set the bar high that many have attempted to copy but never replaced. Bond! James Bond! 007! Shaken but not stirred! His distinct moves and manners are one-of-a-kind. The style of his clothing, irreplaceable humor and skills are what makes Bond a one-in-a-million spy. He is recognized for his exemplary performance in every film since his big screen debut in Dr. No. He has been imitated but has never over taken as the number 1 spy in all movies.