You cannot beat a good spy film and we have been treated to a whole host of them over the years - there really have been some classics.

Our Kind of Traitor

Our Kind of Traitor

We take a look back at the spy genre and pick out some of the movies that you really cannot afford to miss.

- The Bourne Franchise (2002 - 2016)

When it comes to spy film franchises in recent years, Bourne really is up there with the best. Based on the Robert Ludlum books, The Bourne Identity was released back in 2002 and saw Matt Damon take on the central role of Jason Bourne.

The role of Bourne really did cement Damon as a Hollywood star, as he went on to star in The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum in 2004 and 2007. He returned to the role this summer with Jason Bourne, which reunited him with director Paul Greengrass.

The film series follows Bourne, a man who is attempting to gain information about his life, after being found with two gunshot wounds to his back... only to discover that he was part of a CIA black ops program and is a trained killer.

The Bourne franchise is a series of films that are packed with twists and turns as well as some fantastic characters. From Identity to Ultimatum, the films got better and better, until we thought we had said goodbye to this character.

Damon has always shone in the central role and it is a part for which he will forever be synonymous.

So far, the Bourne film series has grossed over $1.5 billion at the global box office and is one of the most successful spy franchises.

The Bourne Identity

- The Ipcress File (1965)

Michael Caine is one of cinema's most iconic stars and the role of Harry Palmer remains one of his most famous.

The Ipcress File is based on the book of the same name by Len Deighton and saw Caine team up with filmmaker Sidney J. Furie.

It kicked off a series of movies where Caine took on the role of Palmer - starring in Funeral in Berlin (1966), Billion Dollar Brain (1967), Bullet to Beijing (1995) and Midnight in Saint Petersburg (1995) - but The Ipcress File remains the best.

In London, a counter-espionage agent deals with his own bureaucracy while investigating the kidnapping and brainwashing of British scientists.

The Ipcress File is a movie that is packed with suspense and intrigue and is everything you would want from an espionage movie.

It is an intelligent and witty movie that sees Caine deliver a fantastic central performance. While the other films in the series are worth a watch, they don't quite live up to this British classic.

The Ipcress File

- Argo (2012)

I love a good spy film and Argo really has been one of the best in recent years. The movie was based on a true CIA mission and saw Ben Affleck back in the director's chair.

Argo was the third feature film of Affleck's career - coming after the success of Gone Baby Gone and The Town - and he also took on the central role of Tony Mendez in the movie.

On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador.

Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA "exfiltration" specialist named Tony Mendez (Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country.

I have been a fan of Affleck as a director ever since Gone Baby Gone and with Argo, he infuses and mixes drama, suspense, and comedy into what is practically a flawless movie - it really is just terrific.

He builds the tension with every frame and never overplays the comedy - striking the perfect balance.

Argo went on to be both a critical and commercial success before scooping the Best Picture Oscar.


- The Lady Vanishes (1938)

The Lady Vanishes is the oldest movie featured on our list, being released in 1938, over seventy-five years ago. The film's age highlights the genres unshakeable ability to sustain its popularity.

The 1930s was arguably the best decade for spy films, being dubbed by The Guardian as 'the genre's golden era', with this film being one of the high points. The out of the ordinary plotline is executed beautifully, under the direction of the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. The film is arguably one of his best, being paced in a way that allows the tension to flourish spectacularly.

Hitchcock also includes his own brand of wit, creating what can only be described as a comedy-thriller. The film masterfully harnesses dark humour in a way that doesn't draw away from the drama and make it light-hearted.

The added bonus is that the hero in this film is a strong, independent female; shaking up the typical, alpha-male characters that have saturated the genre.

Hitchcock delivered a film that was stylish and entertaining as well as showing that he could be a master of suspense.

The Lady Vanishes

- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Another terrific spy film from recent years is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which really is up there as another of my favourites.

Based on the novel of the same name by John le Carré, the movie saw Tomas Alfredson back in the director's chair for the first time since the terrific Let the Right One In.

Set in the bleak days of the Cold War, the movie follows espionage veteran George Smiley who is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons.

Gary Oldman took on the central role of Smiley and was joined on the cast list by Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, and Tom Hardy.

Upon release, some found the slow pacing rather irritating but I actually thought that it was a real strength of the film as it just cranked up the tension. And there really is suspense and menace around every corner, it really is a riveting watch, you, along with Smiley, has no idea who he can and cannot trust.

Oldman in superb as he given a controlled and understated performance as Smiley - it was great to see him bag a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was one of the best films of 2011 and is one of the finest British movies. I do hope that Smiley's People gets the big screen treatment sooner rather than later.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

- North By Northwest (1959)

We have already looked at one Hitchcock movie, but North By Northwest is another classic from the filmmaker. Hitchcock made several great spy films during his career, and North by Northwest is one of his most memorable and much-loved movies.

North by Northwest was the fourth collaboration between Hitchcock and Cary Grant - coming after Suspicion, Notorious, and To Catch a Thief - as he took on the central role of Roger O. Thornhill.

North By Northwest follows a hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.

This is perhaps Hitchcock's glossiest, action blockbuster film of his stellar career, however, it is no less riveting than his previous work. This is a witty thriller that is both entertainment and engaging and has a great central performance from Cary Grant.

Grant is the everyman who finds himself in danger and yet he has a gritty resolve and fight that makes him a character that you can latch on to and root for.

But it is some of the set pieces that this film will forever be remembered for - Grant being chased by the airplane being the one that really does spring to mind. There is no doubt that North By Northwest as the suspense of Hitchcock's previous films but there is more fun in this film that any of his other work.

North By Northwest

- Casino Royale (2006)

Let's face it, we could have talked about any Bond film and it would have been fitting... but Casino Royale kicked off the tenure of Daniel Craig. The casting of Craig caused somewhat of a stir, but his performance in Casino Royale silenced the critics and showed that the franchise was in good hands.

It is hard to believe the Casino Royale is a movie that is already a decade old and saw Craig team up with filmmaker Martin Campbell - who had directed GoldenEye in 1995.

Casino Royale is set at the beginning of Bond's career as Agent 007, just as he is earning his licence to kill. After preventing a terrorist attack at Miami International Airport, Bond falls for Vesper Lynd, the treasury agent assigned to provide the money he needs to foil Le Chiffre's plans by beating him in a high-stakes poker game.

Casino Royale is a thrill a minute action packed ride that truly did kick off a new era for the long-running spy franchise.

It got rid of the silly gadgetry and got down to what Bond does best... and that is killing people. Casino Royale was a gritty, a down a dirty, and more intimate Bond - something that we had not really seen in the franchise before.

But this movie also showed a very human side to this iconic character, which was equally as refreshing. Throw in some great set pieces, action moments, and car chases... and you have a Bond film that you cannot miss.

Casino Royale was a critical and commercial success, grossing $599 million at the box office. It was the most successful Bond film until the release of Skyfall in 2012.

Casino Royale

- Our Kind of Traitor (2016)

Our Kind of Traitor transforms the theme of espionage once again. Whilst on holiday, an unsuspecting couple accidentally get caught up with the Russian Mafia after meeting one of their servants. The man asks them to try and get him refuge with British Intelligence in exchange for him exposing a branch of corruption that runs right through the core of London.

The movie moves away from exploring the lives of spies and those who are deeply involved with espionage and instead, focuses on the experiences of a regular couple who get caught up with two dark and mysterious organisations.

Due to the relatable nature of the two main characters, the tension created throughout the film is even greater, as you have as much information as the protagonists. Grippingly gritty, this film will have you hooked from the start, taking you on rollercoaster of twists and turns, where you won't know your ally from your enemy.

Our Kind of Traitor

Other unmissable spy films include The 39 steps, Munich, A Most Wanted Man, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Spy Game.

Our Kind Of Traitor is released on EST from 5th September 2016 and on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD on 12th September 2016.

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