No, we will not talk about 007 or Mission Impossible. Today we will focus on spy movies that are often underestimated in favor of the two big names. Prepare the equipment, now we will bring you into the International Superspyyyyy mood.
Red Joan -2018
Red Joan is an adaptation of Jennie Rooney’s bestselling novel, directed by Trevor Nunn, which is inspired by the true story of Melita Norwood (1912-2005). The story begins with a shot of 80-year-old Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) living her life quietly without major twists. This simple old lady, however, does not seem to be that normal. Soon the British secret services pull her out of her quiet retreat and arrest her for treason.
While old Joan undergoes an interrogation session denying any accusations, the film’s long flashbacks trace Joan’s past. We soon find ourselves back in her time to 1938. Joan (a pretty Sophie Cookson) is a budding physics student who is expanding her political horizon. But did she really commit those crimes, revealing Britain’s secrets to the Russians as a KGB spy in the 1930s? Find it out yourself watching this incredible spy movie. You can watch it on Prime Video and Apple TV.
Bridge of Spies – 2015
This spy movie immediately won the hearts of viewers, especially thanks to Mark Rylance who has grabbed the Oscar since the first scenes of the film. Stephen Spielberg, as well as Tom Hanks are, of course, a hit.
Bridge of Spies is set in 1962, the year in which America was preparing to bring Gary Powers, the American spy pilot captured by the Soviets back home. The plan was to deliver the Russian spy captured by the Americans, Rudolf Abel, in a classic Cold War prisoner exchange: at dawn, on the Glienecke bridge that crosses East and West Berlin, the so-called Bridge of Spies. Tension is punctuated by snipers waiting on both sides, ready to kill their man in case of last second betrayal. The enigma of the counterparts revolves around the doubt about the loyalty of the prisoners, did they succumb to the pressure, telling everything they knew? You can watch it on Prime Video and Apple TV.
The Courier – 2020
If you liked The Bridge of Spies, you should watch this spy movie too. Both films are based on real events and feature Russian spies, jailed agents, and an exchange between Russia and the West. Here, however, the exchange is not an integral part of the main story, and the Russian spy works for MI6 and the CIA. As in Spielberg’s film, this is a meditation on the individual cost of doing something not for personal gain but for the common good.
Director Dominic Cooke tells the story inspired by the true story of Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch). Wynne was a British businessman who, from 1960 to 1962, smuggled thousands of information out of Russia before being captured, imprisoned and tortured for two years by the KGB. How did his story turn out? You know that?
Official Secrets – 2019
Official Secrets shows that real-life spy dramas are nothing like action thrillers like Bond or Bourne or Homeland. The film is based on the book The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War by Marcia and Thomas Mitchell and was made in collaboration with Katharine Gun, protagonist of the story.
The film is inspired by the true story of Katharine Gun, a translator who worked for the British security services at the GCHQ surveillance unit in Cheltenham. One day she received a secret e-mail exposing a spying operation by the National Security Agency aimed at earning votes to support the impending invasion of Iraq. Gun printed the email and passed it to a friend who was fighting against the war. This email eventually turned into a sensational front page scoop on the Observer. Although she did not stop the war, as she dreamed of doing her Gun, she played an important role in transforming the press and public opinion.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – 2011
This spy movie is an austere, cerebral and uncompromising account of John le Carré’s cold war spy novel, adapted for the screen by Peter Straughan and Bridget O’Connor. Gary Oldman plays the melancholy agent George Smiley, dusted off and tasked with eradicating a Soviet mole in the upper echelons of the secret service.
The protagonist is described and acts as a real secret agent, nothing to do with Bond or Bourne. The director manages to convey the London mood of those years. He brings to life the fears, tensions and actions of the secret services of the two opposing blocs, while the “civil” world continues to lead its own life. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy plot revolves around the search for a mole within the British secret services. A search initiated by George Smiley (Gary Oldman) after the treasury department asks him to investigate the statements of Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) who claims to possess evidence of the existence of a double agent who sends information to the KGB, the Soviet intelligence agency. You can watch it on Prime Video.