Are you a fan of spy movies? Netflix has you covered with the best spy movies. Being a spy is never easy. You have to live a double life to protect important secrets and still keep your family safe. There is also the danger of infiltrating the enemy's den, knowing that you may get discovered and killed in the long run.
But seriously, these are some of the reasons why we fall in love with spy movies. These films have a twisted plot and never lack an element of suspense. What is more, romance blossoms at some point, and you can expect some action and comedy.
20 best spy movies of all time ranked
Here are 20 of the best spy movies on Netflix that are definitely worth the watch.
20. Casino Royale (2006)
- Run time: 144 min
- Director: Martin Campbell
- Writer: Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
- Notable cast members: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen & Jesper Christensen
For fans of James Bond movies, Casino Royale is a must-watch spy blockbuster. The film is adopted from the 1967 Casino Royale Edition.
In the movie, Daniel Craig takes center stage as James Bond. Bond assassinates a high-profile chief and gains the status of agent 007.
He goes on an assignment at a Montenegro casino, and that is where he falls for a female treasury worker, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). The two become a team to protect a costly buy-in.
At one point, Bond loses a significant stake, and this forces Lynd not to authorize the buy-in. Later, Bond is captured by Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) when pursuing Lynd.
Le Chiffre tortures Bond to get a winning combination, but the agent does not yield. Thanks to Mr. White (Jasper Christensen), Bond and Lynd get to live. He kills Le Chiffre.
19. Madras Cafe (2013)
- Run time: 130 min
- Director: Shoojit Sircar
- Writer: Shubhendu Bhattacharya
- Notable cast members: John Abraham & Nargis Fakhri
Madras Cafe is one of the best spy movies in the Hindi language. The story is about an Indian major, Vikram (John Abraham), whose mission is to infiltrate a rebel organization in a war-torn country.
Major Vikram has to face a faceless enemy. While on the mission, Vikram meets a journalist who is determined to uncover the truth behind the rebel group.
The quest leads to the discovery of a deeper conspiracy involving the faceless nemesis. They unite to face and conquer the enemy.
18. The Angel (2018)
- Run time: 114 min
- Director: Ariel Vromen
- Writer: David Arata
- Notable cast members: Marwan Kenzari, Sasson Gabai & Tsahi Halevi
The Angel is a true story of a top-ranked Egyptian official, Ashraf Marwan, who becomes a spy for Israel. His spying leads to a ceasefire between the two historic nations.
Marwan Kenzari plays the role of Ashraf Marwan. He is not only an Egyptian diplomat in the story but also the president's son-in-law.
The Angel best suits those who like political dramas. It is based on Uri Bar-Joseph's New York bestseller, The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel.
17. From Russia with Love (1963)
- Run time: 115 min
- Director: Terence Young
- Writer: Richard Maibaum
- Notable cast members: Sean Connery, Robert Shaw & Lotte Lenya
Eon Productions' From Russia with Love is one of James Bond's most irresistible spy movies on Netflix. Sean Connery acts as M16 Agent 007 (James Bond). With the intention of revenge against Bond for the death of Dr. NO, a criminal organization by the name Spectre starts to train several assassins.
One agent by the name Grant (Robert Shaw) proves himself swiftly, and Spectre's top operative Klebb (Lotte Lenya) appoints him as Bond's protector. The plan is to gain Bond's trust and use him to acquire a particular device, Lektor, before killing him.
Klebb tries to attack Bond but is shot By Romanova as the two lovebirds (Bond and Romanova) go on a romantic boat escape.
16.Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
- Run time: 122 min
- Director: Tomas Alfredson
- Writer: Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan
- Notable cast members: Gary Oldman, John Hurt & Colin Firth
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is an amazing spy thriller with an exciting plot. It is based on John Le Carre's award-winning novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
During the 1970s Cold War, Control (John Hurt), the man at the helm of British intelligence, resigns following a failed Hungarian mission. Control believes a mole within the service is the reason for the failed operation, and Agent Smiley (Garry Oldman) is asked to investigate.
So, what is the most realistic spy movie? The film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is considered one of the most realistic spy films.
15. The Departed (2006)
- Run time: 151 min
- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Writer: William Monahan
- Notable cast members: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon & Jack Nicholson
Any Leonardo DiCaprio fan will fall in love with this spy film. DiCaprio stars as Billy, undercover police officer. He is asked to infiltrate a crime syndicate headed by Costello (Jack Nicholson).
Billy, however, first has to gain Costello's trust. Meanwhile, a hardened criminal by the name Sullivan (Matt Damon) manages to infiltrate the police force, and he is ascending the ranks fast.
As Billy and Sullivan live double lives, they are suddenly in danger when the police and the syndicate suspect a spy in their midst. The only way for any of them to save his life is to uncover the other.
14. GoldenEye (1995)
- Run time: 130 min
- Director: Martin Campbell
- Writer: Michael France
- Notable cast members: Pierce Brosnan, Izabella Scorupco & Sean Bean
GoldenEye is a British spy movie based on Ian Fleming's spy book, James Bond. It is the 17th installment in the historical James Bond series.
Pierce Brosnan plays the role of Mr. Bond. His mission is to save the world from a deadly satellite missile, the GoldenEye, which is in the wrong hands. He follows the space weapon to Russia.
The problem is that he has to contend with an enemy who was once his friend. He also has to square with a dangerous female assassin. With the help of a skilled programmer by the name Natalya (Izabella Scorupco), Bond manages to complete the mission.
13. Spy (2015)
- Run time: 120 min
- Director: Paul Feig
- Writer: Paul Feig
- Notable cast members: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham & Miranda Hart
This 2015 Paul Feig creation is among the top funny spy movies on Netflix. Spy focuses on an unsung CIA analyst by the name Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy). She is instrumental in all dangerous missions that the agency takes.
One day, her partner goes off the grid as another is compromised. Cooper volunteers to infiltrate a dangerous arms dealership group. She goes undercover and has to follow the operations of the syndicate in different countries.
12. The Man with Thousand Faces (2016)
- Run time: 123 min
- Director: Alberto Rodriguez
- Writer: Roberto Rodriguez, Rafael Cobos, Manuel Cerdán
- Notable cast members: Eduard Fernandez, Jose Coronado & Carlos Santos
The Man with Thousand Faces is one of the best spy movies of all time in the Spanish language. It focuses on an ex-Spanish operative who fakes his death following a high-profile corruption scandal.
The agent, Francisco Paesa (Eduard Fernandez), is accused by the Spanish government of embezzling millions of dollars. He has no choice but to flee his native land and make it look like he is dead.
When he finally resurfaces and goes back home, things are very different. His personal life is a mess, and he is as broke as never before. Luckily, a powerful ex-police commissioner offers him a million dollars to use to protect the multimillions he embezzled before fleeing.
11. Goldfinger (1964)
- Run time: 110 min
- Director: Guy Hamilton
- Writer: Paul Dehn & Richard Maibaum
- Notable cast members: Sean Connery, Gert Frobe & Shirley Eaton
Agent 007 (Sean Connery) investigates a gold smuggling syndicate headed by Goldfinger (Gert Frobe). He uncovers the organization leader's malicious plan of contaminating the U.S. Bullion Depository.
When Goldfinger realizes that James Bond is a mole, he has him captured and plans to kill him. To save his life, Bond lies about M16 having information about the operations. Goldfinger is, without doubt, one of the best British spy movies out there.
10. Inception (2010)
- Run time: 148 min
- Director: Christopher Nolan
- Writer: Christopher Nolan
- Notable cast members: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy & Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Having bagged 4 Oscars, Inception is one of the good spy movies on Netflix. The lead actor is Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays the role of a con artist named Cobb.
Cobb infiltrates the target's subconscious to extract valuable secrets. He does what is called corporate espionage, and this makes him a wanted man. He is about to lose everything when he is offered a rare chance to redeem himself.
Cobb needs to do one job; reverse corporate espionage. He needs to plant an idea into a target's subconscious instead of stealing it.
9. Batman Begins (2005)
- Run time: 140 min
- Director: Christopher Nolan
- Notable cast members: Christian Bale, Liam Neeson & Katie Holmes
For those who are passionate about superhero movies with a spy element, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins is just the movie to watch. It all starts when a rich heir by the name Bruce (Christian Bale) tragically loses his parents.
This forces him to move to Asia, where he meets Ducard (Liam Neeson). Ducard teaches him martial art, and he returns home to combat evil as the iconic Batman.
8. Inglorious Basterds (2009)
- Run time: 153 min
- Director/writer: Quentin Tarantino
- Notable cast members: Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent & Daniel Bruhl
Following Death Proof's success in 2007, Quentin Tarantino developed Inglorious Basterds. Shosanna (Melanie Laurent), a Jewish refugee, witnesses her entire family die in the hands of the militia. After managing to escape, she returns to make the militia pay.
She catches the eye of German warlord Zoller (Daniel Bruhl), who organizes a movie premiere at Shosanna's theatre. The event attracts guerilla soldiers (Basterds), led by the cruel Lt. Raine (Brad Pitt). Shosanna cannot wait to cross paths with her targets.
7. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
- Run time: 118 min
- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Writers: Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz, George Lucas
- Notable cast members: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw & Philip Stone
Looking for one of the best espionage movies from the old days? If so, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a must-watch.
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) arrives in India, and he is implored by the villagers to find a precious mystical stone. Additionally, Jones needs to rescue local children who have been taken captive by a cult.
There are fears that the children may be sacrificed to a goddess known as Kali, and only Jones can save them. Jones embarks on the dangerous mission and eventually conquers the Temple of Doom.
6. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
- Run time: 127 min
- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Writer: Jeffrey Boam
- Notable cast members: Harrison Ford, Julian Glover & Sean Connery
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is one of the best action spy movies. The movie is the 3rd installment in the IJ series.
In the story, an art collector by the name Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) convinces Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) to search for a valuable artifact, the Holy Grail. Donovan is also motivated to search for his father, who disappeared while searching for the relic.
Contrary to most assumptions, the search is very complicated. What is more, the powers of the Holy Grail are stronger for someone with an impure heart.
5. Spy Kids (2001)
- Run time: 88 min
- Director/Writer: Robert Rodriguez
- Notable cast members: Antonio Banderas, Daryl Sabara, Alexa PenaVega & Carla Gugino
Kids are always covered when it comes to the best spy comedy movies. Robert Rodriquez did an exemplary job in this production.
Spy Kids is a story about two secret operatives. They disguise themselves proficiently to neutralize terrorists in separate countries. They coincidentally meet in the line of duty, fall in love, and eventually start a family.
The retired agents are recalled nine years later to aid in an investigation. Unfortunately, they disappear, and only their kids (the Spy Kids) can rescue them.
4. The Lives of Others (2006)
- Run time: 137 min
- Director/writer: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
- Notable cast members: Ulrich Muhe, Sebastian Koch & Thomas Thieme
The Lives of Others is a German-produced spy movie that bagged the 2006 Best Foreign language Oscars. It was the 1st recognizable drama after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
The story starts with police office Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe), who attends a famous play by Dreyman (Sebastian Koch). Wiesler has a conviction that Dreyman is not the person he is claiming to be.
So, he initiates surveillance on him, which the minister (Thomas Thieme) agrees to. Upon spying on Dreyman on several occasions, Wiesler changes his mind and starts to care, contrary to the minister's liking.
3.The Dark Knight (2008)
- Run time: 152 min
- Director: Christopher Nolan
- Writer: Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan
- Notable cast members: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger & Morgan Freeman
The chances are that you will love this movie if you enjoyed watching Batman Begins. The Dark Knight features the iconic character, Batman, whose mission is to fight evil.
Unlike its predecessor, The Dark Knight won 2 Oscars, which makes it one of the top spy movies on Christopher Nolan's CV.
The story is a continuation of Batman Begins. Christian Bale maintains his role as Batman and Liam Neeson as his trainer. In the story, a psychopathic criminal gang leader, The Joker (Heath Ledger), turns up in Gotham City, and only Batman can stop him.
2. Spy Time (2015)
- Run time: 93 min
- Director: Javier Ruiz Caldera
- Writer: Pablo Alen & Fernando Navarro
- Notable cast members: Quim Gutiérrez, Imanol Arias & Alexandria Jimenez
The film is an action-comedy based on Manuel Vasquez's comic book, Spy Time. In the story, a security officer by the name Adolfo (Quim Gutierrez) is going through a difficult time.
His lifetime girlfriend has just dumped him, and he is the target of a wanted criminal. As if that is not enough, he learns of his father's double life.
To ensure that he survives the arch-enemy's revenge plans and possibly win his girl back, Adolfo has to keep his father's secret and work with him. His father is a secret agent, by the way.
1. Argo (2012)
- Run time: 120 min
- Director: Ben Affleck
- Writer: Chris Terrio
- Notable cast members: Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin & Tate Donovan
Argo is an exciting historical drama based on CIA operative Antonio Mendez's spy book, The Master of Disguise. Argo is a must-watch.
Following an invasion of the Iran-based American Embassy, so many American diplomats are taken hostage, but 6 are lucky to escape. They end up in the home of the Canadian ambassador in Tehran.
The CIA, headed by Mendez (Ben Affleck), is tasked with getting them out. Time seems to be running out for the rescuers as the Iranian forces are closing in on the diplomats.
The next time you prefer to watch a film with a twisted plot and that is suspense-filled, consider the above spy movies. They are the best spy movies of all time and have intrigued millions who have watched them over the years.