Daniel Craig has reportedly agreed to do one last “Bond-James Bond” film—no doubt for a boatload of money. Don’t ask me why this is happening. There is every reason to love these movies and rejoice when Bond is back. But, let’s be honest. Daniel Craig is the most lifeless Bond since George Lazenby.
My heartfelt recommendation is to make a commitment now to skip these movies until they come up with a better Bond. While we are all waiting, here is a list of better spies to watch on the silver screen.
6. The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby (2011)
This film is a fascinating and riveting documentary about CIA Director William Colby made by his son. A rare and unforgettable glimpse into the family life and times of Cold War espionage, The New York Times selected the movie as a “Critic’s Pick.”
5. The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World (1965)
This British import, originally titled “License to Kill,” was re-edited and renamed for an American audience. In reworking the film, they added a really cool theme song. The U.S. producers wanted to cash in on the Bond movie mania with a movie that poked fun at the notion of an invincible superspy. The premise of the film is that James Bond is on assignment so the agency assigns their second best man to the next mission. This movie has a plot—but don’t worry about that. Secret Agent Charles Vane is actually a bit of a goofball, a forerunner of lampooning the Bond character in films like Austin Powers (1997).
4. Torn Curtain (1966)
Nobody made more suspenseful spy movies than the famed director Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock paired top talent with brilliant cinematography and smart scripts. In this movie, an American scientist pretends to defect behind the Iron Curtain, but he is really part of a plot to steal a secret Soviet formula and bring it back to the United States. If you like this film, check out other movies in the Hitchcock library including The 39 Steps (1935), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and North by Northwest (1959).
3. Ronin (1998)
These ronin are not master-less Japanese samurai, they are out-of-work spies after the Cold War, doing piece work for a mysterious boss that results in lots of car chases, explosions, and shooting. A world-class cast and engaging plot make for a film smarter and more entertaining than any Bond adventure.
2. A Most Wanted Man (2014)
This thriller about a team of German agents tracking down terrorists is perhaps the best example of what spy movies for adults ought to be like. The film is also a poignant reminder of why the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was such a great loss to his profession.
1. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
Based on a graphic novel, this comedy-action film has more character and humor than most Bond movies. A young loser from the wrong side of London becomes a super-secret agent who saves the entire world. And, yes, he does it in a tuxedo. Joyously, there is a sequel slated for release in 2017. If the second feature is half as good as the first film then it will be twice as good as any outing by Daniel Craig.
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