These are the best spy thrillers to stream right now

From Amazon Prime to Disney+ (yes, really), we’ve rounded up the ten best titles to take you to the edge of your seat…

Excitement is at an all-time low. After almost a full year of shut-ins and self-isolation, we’re looking for our thrills wherever we can get them. Another potted plant for our desk? Exhilarating! The perfectly home-brewed cup of coffee? Sensational! More new pyjamas? What a buzz!

Fortunately, streaming services offer a welcome distraction from lockdown — and lifelines to more exciting, dangerous and unpredictable worlds. Our new obsession? Spy thrillers. And, from Amazon Prime to Disney+ (yes, really), we’ve rounded up the ten best titles to take you to the edge of your seat…

Bridge of Spies, 2015

Watch it on: Netflix

What it’s about: Tom Hanks stars as James B. Donovan, a lawyer entrusted with negotiating the release of a U.S Air Force pilot held captive in the Soviet Union. Mark Rylance puts in a blistering turn as Rudolf Abel, the KGB spy used as a bargaining chip. It’s a slower burn than other titles on this list; but just as thrilling. 

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, 1965

Watch it on: Amazon Prime

What it’s about: The first of several John le Carré adaptations to make this list, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was committed to film just two years after the book hit shelves. It tells the twisting tale of MI6 station chief Alec Leamas (Richard Burton) as he becomes a faux defector to East Germany. Alcoholism, assassinations and self-loathing follow him in his mission.

The Sum of All Fears, 2002

Watch it on: Netflix

What it’s about: Officially the fourth film in the Jack Ryan film franchise, The Sum of All Fears sees Ben Affleck cast as Tom Clancy’s hero (taking over from both Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford). The plot follows an Austrian Neo-Nazi, who plans to trigger a global nuclear war and establish a fascist superstate in Europe. It’s better than it sounds. 

Enemy of the State, 1998

Watch it on: Disney+

What it’s about: Will Smith’s protagonist may not be a spy in Enemy of the State, but this is a spy thriller nonetheless. The 1998 film follows Smith’s Bobby Dean, a lawyer who ends up in possession of a tape of a congressman’s murder. A group of NSA agents conspire to get it back — whatever the cost. 


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, 2011

Watch it on: Amazon Prime

What it’s about: John le Carré’s second entry on this list. We’re great fans of the 1979 BBC version (that series is available to buy on Amazon Prime), but the 2011 film version is free to subscribers. Starring Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy and Colin Firth, it follows the hunt for a Soviet double agent in the British secret service. Big names; tricky watch.

Salt, 2010

Watch it on: Netflix

What it’s about: Salt is an underrated film. Originally written as a vehicle for Tom Cruise, the titular CIA agent was gender-flipped when Angelina Jolie came aboard. And she does an incredible job — playing the part of a suspected Russian sleeper agent who must go on the run to evade arrest and clear her name. The stunts are especially impressive in this one.

Red Sparrow, 2018

Watch it on: All 4

What it’s about: Based on a 2013 novel, this Jennifer Lawrence-starring spy thriller is inspired by historic Soviet ‘sexpionage’. It was accused of having ‘more style than substance’ upon release and, while this is true to an extent, it still thrills and chills with graphic violence, sex and a slew of above-average performances. The accents, in particular, are a cut above Hollywood’s usual drawly Russian efforts. 

Our Kind of Traitor, 2016

Watch it on: Amazon Prime

What it’s about: A third entry for John le Carré — but, then again, he was a master of the form. This reasonably recent adaptation casts the ever-reliable Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris as a couple struggling in their marriage. While holidaying in Marrakesh, a money launderer with links to the Russian mob coerces the couple to deliver incriminating evidence to an MI6 agent. It doesn’t end well.

The Red Sea Diving Resort, 2019

Watch it on: Netflix

What it’s about: If you’ve never seen The Red Sea Diving Resort — and instead avoided it because of the bad reviews — we’re here to tell you that this Netflix original is worth a watch. The cast of Chris Evans, Ben Kingsley and Greg Kinnear does great work with an incredibly (if embellished) true story under the direction of Israeli director Gideon Raff.

The Spy, 2019

Watch it on: Netflix

What it’s about: Director Gideon Raff had a busy 2019. And a Netflix-centric 2019. And an espionage-focused 2019. This limited series is another spy thriller from Raff — starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a Mossad spy during the years leading to the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and Syria. If you’re looking for something longer-form than a film, this is the thriller for you. 

Looking for a new binge-worthy series? Here’s what to watch on Netflix in March 2021…

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