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Best Spy Movies on Netflix: 11 Nail-Biting Thrillers, Ranked

If you're in the mood for intrigue, plot twists and secret missions, we've got just the picks for you!


It makes sense that spy movies on Netflix are so popular, especially when you consider that real-life spies have been in the news so much lately. You might hear of one working for the CIA or KGB, a military spy or even a corporate spy sent to collect information about competitors. But who wants to know of these nail-biting current events from the real world when all you have to do is turn on Netflix for intrigue.

It’s a genre the popular streaming service offers its viewers that’s filled with duplicity, deception, plot twists and missions that might seem impossible. Spy movies can give it all within a 90-minute popcorn filled experience, complete with beautiful vistas, thrilling car chases and nail-biting espionage.

Here are the best spy movies on Netflix featuring some of the most iconic agents on top-secret missions.

11 best spy movies on Netflix, ranked

11. A Call to Spy (2020)

A trio of women become spies for the British government during World War II. One of these operatives is Castle star Stana Katic, who recruits the other two women. Sexism ran high during this time period — even higher than it does in today’s climate.

Following Winston Churchill’s orders to recruit and train women as spies, the special ops trio is put into very dangerous territory while turning the other cheek to the multitude sexist comments and actions they come up against. The spy drama’s title is a variant of “a call to arms.” Though heavily fictionalized, the content is inspired by real life events of the three women who helped undermine the Nazi regime in France.

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10. Spy Game (2001)

Who can resist watching Robert Redford and Brad Pitt together on screen? Spy Game is a thriller that gives viewers a glimpse into federal bureaucracy and one man’s attempt to cut through it and save his former intelligence pupil.

Retiring CIA agent Robert Muir (Redford) has one foot out the door and into blissful retirement, when he finds out that Tom Bishop (Pitt) has been arrested in China for espionage. Determined to free his protégé from the Chinese prison, Muir puts his skills and wits together one more time, though his mission is not sanctioned by the agency.

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9. The Coldest Game (2019)

This is an English language Polish spy film starring Bill Pullman as Josh Mansky, an American alcoholic former chess champion now playing a major chess match in Warsaw against a Russian champion. Somehow Mansky becomes involved in a Cold War confrontation between nuclear superpowers. If you love chess and tension, The Coldest Game delivers. The chess match takes on uber importance as the U.S. is in danger of losing both the game and its place in global dominance as a military crisis escalates.

8. Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (2002)

Intrigue, action and comedy mix well in this second installment in the Spy Kids film franchise. Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara) have joined the family spy business as Level 2 OSS agents. Their new mission, should they accept it (which they do), is to save the world from a mad scientist living on a bizarre volcanic island. Their mission has to be accomplished despite the fact their gadgets don’t work and they have to rely on their own smarts to survive.

7. The Boss Baby (2017)

Who said intelligence agents and spy films have to be set in the real world, so to speak? The Boss Baby is one of the best spy movies on Netflix, using animation and the voices of Alec Baldwin as the title character, along with Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow and Tobey Maguire.

A suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying baby, who is a secret agent in the war for adults’ divided love between babies and puppies, helps his older brother thwart the sneaky scheme of the CEO of Puppy Co., who threatens to change the world as we know it with the use of puppies. Admittedly it’s far-fetched, but it’s still an entertaining spy movie. Ultimately the toothless secret agent shows everyone who is truly boss.

(Find The Boss Baby in our roundup of the 11 best animated movies on Netflix!)

6. The Interpreter (2005)

The pairing of Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn makes up this taut thriller, chock full of twists and turns, and as a result is one of the best spy movies on Netflix, maybe more on the political side than in terms of intrigue, Kidman plays United Nations interpreter Silvia Broome, who happens to overhear an assassination plot against the ruthless leader of an African country scheduled to answer for his crimes at the International Criminal Court.

As an eyewitness to the plot, Silvia’s life is is immediately in danger. Enter secret service agent Sean Penn, who is saddled with the task of keeping Silvia safe as he uncovers a link between Broome and the corrupt leader’s actions. The two are put into action as the danger of a major assassination on U.S. soil grows ever closer, with Silvia’s life hanging in the balance.

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5. The Gray Man (2002) best spy movies on Netflix

We loved him last summer as Ken to the iconic Barbie, but what about watching Ryan Gosling as CIA agent Six? Still captivating! Six is the CIA’s most skilled — and secretive — agent, who learns that Carmichael, his supervisor, is running unsanctioned assassination operations. Refusing to play ball and keep mum, a bounty is put on his handsome head. Enter murderous, snarky villain Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) to wipe Six out, no matter what it takes. Watching two of Hollywood’s most handsome leading men play opposite each other warrants a look-see.

Related: Ryan Gosling Movies: Our 10 Favorite Films Starring the Talented Hunk, Ranked

4. Red Notice (2021) best spy movies on Netflix

Not all spy movies have to be downright serious or go the animated route, as this enjoyable spy action-comedy proves. FBI criminal profiler John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) is assigned to assist an Interpol agent in catching international art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds). But the two learn never to underestimate the power of the female sex when the Bishop (Gal Gadot) gets the better of them, and this spy film takes us on an international romp. The playful nature of the film coupled with the chemistry between Reynolds and Johnson only adds to the enjoyment of these operatives.

3. The Berlin File (2013) best spy movies on Netflix

The action-packed spy film is a Korean thriller that gives us an illegal arms deal in Berlin as the catalyst for the ensuing intrigue. A North Korean ghost agent has to protect himself and his wife, who is a translator at the North Korean embassy in Berlin (and implicated double agent) after he interrupts the criminal sale of arms in Berlin. The couple has no choice but to go on the run from both North and South Korean agents, which results in excellent action sequences.

2. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

What list of spy films would be complete without a mention of Mission: Impossible? Things seem to be breaking down at a fast clip in this film — messages linger and don’t self-destruct, the mask machine is kaput, the Kremlin gets blown up.

And then, the IMF is completely shut down when it’s implicated in the Kremlin bombing, resulting in the franchise team going rogue to clear their organization’s name. In comes Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) to save the day, despite the fact he’s getting the blame for laying the bomb at the Kremlin’s feet. Secretly, he is tasked with finding the real culprit and teams up again with fellow agents Jane and Benji, plus a newcomer intelligence analyst (Jeremy Renner) on a covert mission.

1. The Good Shepherd (2006) best spy movies on Netflix

Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) believed in America’s virtues and would have sacrificed everything he loved to protect his country, even challenging his relationship with Margaret (Angelina Jolie). Wilson heads CIA covert operations during the Bay of Pigs invasion in the 1960s where the agency suspected that Fidel Castro was tipped off about the operation.

But by whom? It’s Wilson’s job to find the leak. Loosely based on real life events, this film at the top of our ranking of the best spy movies on Netflix tells the history of the birth of counterintelligence in the CIA. We see Wilson’s idealism wane as he remembers his past, the emergence of the Cold War and his relationships with British and Soviet counterparts. Will the CIA’s dirty little secrets be revealed?

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