Are spy organizations categorized as law enforcement agencies? This question has me pondering all day. Probably, the best spy movies on Netflix might shed some light.
If you have watched them before, no one says you have to watch them once.
Espionage is the most potent way to obtain information not released to the general public. The more information you have, the more powerful you become. Remember the old saying? Knowledge is power.
There is enough knowledge flying around in this selection of the best spy movies on Netflix. While some diligently seek out knowledge, others focus on providing false knowledge.
Have fun exploring this deceptive world of international espionage.
Table of Contents
- 1. Central Intelligence (2016)
- 2. Salt (2010)
- 3. Red 2 (2013)
- 4. The Tourist (2010)
- 5. The Tuxedo (2002)
- 6. Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
- 7. Body of Lies (2008)
- 8. Safe House (2012)
- 9. Mission Impossible – Fallout (2018)
- 10. The International (2009)
- 11. The Sum of all Fears (2001)
- 12. Munich – The Edge of War
1. Central Intelligence (2016)
- Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
- Star Cast: Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, and Aaron Paul
Central Intelligence is one movie that tacitly blends action and comedy. An incredible performance from Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart’s combo makes this one of the best spy movies on Netflix, and the thrilling action is perfectly balanced with comedy.
Kevin Hart stars as Joyner, who is a married forensic accountant. He is dissatisfied with his work and is also facing a deteriorating marriage. Bob Stone reaches out and asks for his help reviewing some online transactions.
It doesn’t take long for Kevin’s peaceful world to be blown to pieces as CIA operatives storm his house in search of Stone. The rest of the central plot serves up plenty of laughs. Warning! Don’t watch this movie at work.
Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart display incredible on-screen chemistry that is surprising from such mismatched characters. The humor is well distributed in the movie, and Central Intelligence is one of those thrilling rogue spy movies that you will enjoy.
2. Salt (2010)
- Director: Philip Noyce
- Star Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liey Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Andre Braugher
Fans of Angelina Jolie will know this movie as one of her best performances. Sony Pictures delivered a masterpiece with this movie that is currently rated 6.4 on IMDb.
You will not be surprised to find this film among the best spy movies on Netflix.
Angelina Jolie plays the role of the main protagonist, Evelyn Salt. Well, Spies are not above capture and torture, and they may do their best to avoid such, but as we see in this film, even the best spy can be captured and tortured.
Mike Krause, Salt’s husband, generated much publicity about her imprisonment. The Central Intelligence Agency responded by arranging a prisoner exchange to free her.
It would seem like a breath of fresh air until a conspiracy pits Salt as the Russian president’s killer.
This fitfully entertaining film has a fast pace with no room for extraneous sub-plots or a bubbling romance. It brings in a lot of energy to keep the viewer focused and maintain its fluidity, and the momentum is maintained until the climax.
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3. Red 2 (2013)
- Director: Dean Parisot
- Star Cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins, and Helen Mirren
Spying is not always fun, and there are some sacrifices and gloomy days. In Red 2, ex-CIA Frank Moses moves on to everyday life with his girlfriend, Sarah Ross, after the first movie’s events. He dismissed claims of imminent danger by Marvin Boggs.
Marvin drives off and seems to die from an exploding car. You can easily find the exploding car stunt in the best spy movies on Netflix.
Frank doubts that Marvin is dead from the incident. However, after much persuasion from Sarah, he attended the burial and delivered a tearful eulogy.
Following protocol, government agents take Frank to the FBI Yankee White facility for interrogation. What did you hear about bad eggs in the government agencies? In the company of private military contractors, Corrupt agent Jack Horton ambushes the facility.
Red 2 serves as the sequel to Red. It keeps up the same level of entertainment we got from the first installment, and the tension is loosened with humor here and there. The stellar cast gives this film an undeniable feature.
Seeing the reception, Netflix is currently streaming this incredible spy film. Take advantage and stream this movie before it leaves Netflix.
4. The Tourist (2010)
- Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
- Star Cast: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff, and Rufus Sewell
This film is an incredible spy thriller that is entertaining to watch. It is not fast-paced like the other best spy movies on Netflix, and one thing it does best is to take us into the dangerous slow-paced world of espionage.
The French police working together with Scotland Yard, follows a British woman, Elise Clifton-Ward. Inspector John Acheson directs the team of policemen searching for Alexander Pearce, Elise’s lover.
He is owing £744 million in back taxes and is believed to have evaded capture by changing his appearance through plastic surgery.
Reginald Shaw, a mobster, is also hunting Pearce, who stole $2.3 billion from him. In the heat of the pursuit, Pearce instructs Elise to board the train to Venice. He further instructs her to pick out a random man to mislead the police into thinking he was Pearce.
Many spy enthusiasts may not like this movie because of the slow pace. If you were looking to catch the same action as No Time to Die, you would be highly disappointed.
But if you are looking to see how the world of espionage unravels, this film is for you.
5. The Tuxedo (2002)
- Director: Kevin Donovan
- Star Cast: Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love Hewitt
Spying is as old as you can think of, and nations have turned to espionage to keep themselves safe. The Tuxedo is one of the classic spy thrillers released in the early 2000s, and it became pretty popular enough to become one of the best spy movies on Netflix.
Jackie Chan plays the role of a taxi driver, James Tong, widely known for his speed and driving agility to get his customers anywhere. His reputation secures him as a personal chauffeur to a wealthy Clark Devlin.
James and Devlin become friends because of Devlin’s friendly nature, impeccable demeanor, and openness to advice. As James subsequently discovers, Devlin is a secret undercover government spy, and a recent attack lands him in a coma.
James becomes saddled with working on the last case Devlin was working on, and he ends up with a unique watch that controls an unusual Tuxedo. The Tuxedo is a fun film to pass the time, and there is plenty of action and humor.
Nevertheless, don’t expect too much from this movie, and it is just a simple spy action flick that bends more to humor.
6. Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
- Director: Christopher McQuarrie
- Star Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, and Sean Harris
Mission Impossible is perhaps one of the longest spy series movies, and its installments are among the best spy movies on Netflix.
This series is an exciting and thrilling collection with enough espionage events, and you will probably learn a lot about the world of espionage from this series.
In this installment, Rogue Nation follows IMF agent Ethan Hunt’s efforts to prove the existence of the Syndicate. The Syndicate is a consortium of rogue field operatives from various intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency.
In this thrilling hunting game, the Syndicate captures Ethan in a record shop in London. Meanwhile, in the corridors of power in Washington D.C, CIA Director Alan Hunley attempts to assimilate the IMF into the agency.
Tom Cruise once again delivers the spectacular performance that made us fall in love with the Mission Impossible series. There is enough action to keep you entertained, and this film doesn’t joke around in delivering one of the best espionage movies.
Which installment of the Mission Impossible series do you consider the best? Please share your opinion in the comment section.
7. Body of Lies (2008)
- Director: Ridley Scott
- Star Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Golshifteh Farahani, and Oscar Isaac
Body of Lies currently streams as one of the best spy movies on Netflix with an IMDb rating of 7.1. This Middle Eastern thriller throws new light on the war of terror as we know it. Hence, it is an excellent lens to examine the espionage efforts against terror.
The plot of this film seems simple at first until it unwinds into an endless maze of deceit. Roger Ferris, a CIA case officer, tracks a high-ranking terrorist leader called Al-Saleem in Iraq.
Nizar, a member of the terrorist organization, offers to give information in exchange for asylum in North America.
Ridley Scott brings another spy action epic to our screens, and he managed to get enough realism to the story and locations. The story that unfolds in the middle east is a thrilling web of lies that takes away Ferris’s will to continue the fight.
Don’t expect to watch this film in an instant. Ridley Scott combines visual sense with story-telling mastery to deliver an exciting and entertaining film.
It is one of his complicated and sophisticated films. You need to pay rapt attention to follow up, or you’ll be lost.
Nonetheless, Body of Lies stays true to its name, and it explores the complex nature of lying in the world of espionage. I’m confident you will love this one if you are patient enough.
8. Safe House (2012)
- Director: Daniel Espinosa
- Star Cast: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, and Sam Shepard
The lack of field experience has Junior CIA officer Matt Weston inquiring about a station in Paris from his mentor and immediate superior, David Barlow.
On the side, he hopes to stay with his live-in girlfriend Ana, who is a young French physician about to start her residency.
Barlow initially tells Matt that he is underqualified for the position he is considering but promises to look into the issue in a few months. Western’s quiet and uneventful world is about change when Frost is brought in for interrogation.
You can expect that astonishing and profoundly spectacular performance from Denzel Washington. It will take a lot of stamina to keep you from being blown away by this spy thriller. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best spy movies on Netflix.
Following in the footsteps of the known world of espionage, there are plenty of lies to maintain the suspense. The plot has enough twists to keep you engaged all day long. Make sure you get your alarm set because you might get lost in this movie.
Safehouse is a solid spy movie with good cinematography.
9. Mission Impossible – Fallout (2018)
- Director: Christopher McQuarrie
- Star Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Sean Harris.
Henry Cavill teams up with Tom Cruise to bring us one of the best spy movies. The duo performed so well to earn this movie a spot among the best spy movies on Netflix. The Mission Impossible series continues with this latest installment.
Despite Solomon Lane’s capture, the Syndicate members of his disbanded organization reorganized themselves into another terrorist group known as the Apostles. They continue to cause chaos around the world.
Can this movie get any thrilling? The Apostles have associated with a known extremist called John Lark. With the ongoing havoc, he has called for the destruction of the current world structure. If you are looking for a sophisticated spy action, this film is for you.
Mission Impossible – Fallout has all the elements you would expect from a spy movie. The lies are there, and the twist is present. This will be a thrilling experience for you.
I am looking forward to more spy collabo between Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill.
The excellent cinematography and incredible stunts ensure no boredom even if you watch it a hundred times.
10. The International (2009)
- Director: Tom Tykwer
- Star Cast: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Brian F. O’Byrne, and Haluk Bilginer
Sometimes, the espionage world does not pit spies against spies. This thrilling action film brings the banking sector into view. You can quickly get this film as one of the best spy movies on Netflix. If you are ready for some banking action, let’s delve in.
The atmosphere is tense in this film, and however, the action boils at a slow pace reminiscent of the corporate world. Using bankers as the antagonists is a unique approach to spy movies, and the use of architecture in this film is also commendable.
You will have to pay close attention to follow this long winding movie. The conspiracy is thick and exciting to unfold. Trust me when I say that this film will have your expectations come crashing down. It is surprisingly thrilling than expected.
The complex story of corruption stands tall, gripping the attention of any viewer till the last scene. It is a good spy movie and definitely above average. Just imagine if you could travel the world like Louis Salinger, and that guy had no problem going anywhere.
11. The Sum of all Fears (2001)
- Director: Phil Alden Robinson
- Star Cast: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell, Lily Schreiber, and Alan Bates
Phil Robinson directed this 2002 American spy thriller based on Tom Clancy’s novel of the same name published in 1991. Jack Ryan film series play host to this film. You can’t speak of the best spy movies on Netflix without mentioning this classic thriller.
The plot of this film is as entertaining as the action. During the Yom Kippur war in 1973, an Israeli warplane carrying a nuclear bomb went down after being shot.
Fast forward to 2002, where a Syrian Scrap collector sells a sizeable unexploded bomb to Olson, a black-market arms trafficker.
A neo-fascist group acquires the bomb and intends to start a conflict between the United States and Russia. Their sole aim is to have a united fascist Europe that will rule the world. It might be safe to say that the real reason for espionage is power.
One thing you will love about this film is the acting. It is spectacular and mind-gripping. The film deploys high-level suspense that will leave you second-guessing the following line of action. This classic spy thriller still holds much ground in today’s spy action films.
The sum of all fears is a good name, and the film lives up to it.
12. Munich – The Edge of War
- Director: Christian Schwochow
- Star Cast: Jeremy Irons, George Mackay, Jannis Niewöhner, Sandra Hüller, and Liv Lisa Fries
This film takes its central plot from the international bestseller written by Robert Harris. It is a thrilling adventure of historical events. Among the best spy movies on Netflix, it is one of the most recent, released in 2021.
In 1932, Hugh Legat, Paul von Hartmann, and his girlfriend celebrated their graduation from Oxford University, unaware of the travails that awaited them. This film explores the world of international espionage like non-other.
As Europe sinks further into the clutches of war, Six years later, Legat works as the secretary to the British Prime minister Neville Chamberlain. The prime minister isn’t kin on war as he strives to maintain peace with Adolf Hitler.
The acting in this movie is solid and outstanding. They portray all the possible emotions, including a gentle, diplomatic approach and aggressive warnings.
It is also a lovely visit to historical events and how dangerous espionage can be.
Watching the best spy movies on Netflix is an entertaining experience. They have no dull moment, from the mind gripping plot to the spectacular stunts. I agree that some of these movies may require a bit of concentration to follow the winding story.
Have fun watching them, and please share with your friends if you found this article interesting. See you in a bit.