There's More Than One Kind of Spy: 10 Archetypes to Satisfy Everyone's Watch List
#BusyBenedict must be just so busy and that's why he hasn't come up much in the news lately. But, that's about to change with Benedict Cumberbatch starring in the forthcoming biopic The Courier, releasing on October 16 (we're getting a head start on Fall).
He takes on the role of businessman Greville Wynne, who is recruited by MI6 during the Cold War. While Wynne agrees to it, he is hesitant at first, being a civilian and all. It makes us think, this true story may deem Wynne The Reluctant Spy.
Here are 10 other on-screen spies, listed out by category:
1.The Amnesiac Spy
Let's kick off this post with Liam Neeson as Dr. Martin Harris in 2011's Unknown. When Harris is in a car accident, he wakes up in a hospital with no memory. Matters get more twisty turvy for him when he meets another man claiming to be Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn).
This next bit is a little spoiler-y, as it turns out... neither is who they say they are. It's just that Neeson's character has no recollection that his name, job and even wife are all a cover.
2. The Overly-Ambitious Spy
We love Melissa McCarthy as the unexpected spy in the 2015 movie simply called Spy. McCarthy plays the role of CIA agent Susan Cooper, but she mans a desk. When her group needs a field agent, who will go totally unseen, McCarthy's character is upped in the ranks. She is beyond excited, to the point that she could easily blow her cover by trying a little too hard.
But, she doesn't go it alone, with Anglo favorite Miranda Hart playing her trusting best friend and CIA sidekick. Jason Statham is also on board as a seasoned and more "traditional" agent.
3. The Street Kid Spy
In 2014, a virtually unknown Taron Egerton led an all-star cast in Kingsman: The Secret Service, opposite Colin Firth, Michael Caine and Mark Strong. The super secret elite group recruits a young guy off the street, named Eggsy (Egerton), to join them in their efforts to fight off baddies. He trains. And trains. And... trains some more. And, after putting in the work, he's ready for service.
Egerton returned for 2017's Kingsman: The Golden Circle, but at that point he was no longer a rookie.
4. The Quirky Spy
If you see quirky and think of Austin Powers, you're spot on. In 1997, Mike Meyers made a splash on the big screen as the very flashy international man of mystery. The movie starts off with Powers cryogenically frozen, having gone to sleep in the 1960s and waking up in the 1990s. His spying skills are needed, but things are quite different than he remembered.
Meyers plays more than one role, also popping up as Dr. Evil. You can also look for Elizabeth Hurley as Vanessa Kensington, a romantic interest who helps Powers adjust to modern day life.
5. The Spy's Spy
And, why not put James Bond right smack in the middle of this list? Bond, aka 007, is portrayed by numerous actors, with each "regenerating" every few movies. The first Bond was Sean Connery, making his debut as the highly skilled British spy in 1973's Dr. No, who was recently voted the favorite in a Radio Times poll. Connery was followed by David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. The current Bond is Daniel Craig, with a new actor set to take over for him sooner than later.
Author and creator of the Bond character, Ian Fleming, who was a spy himself, created the quintessential spy. There are 26 movies total, so plenty of Bond to go around.
6. The Mole Spy
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is topped up with all sorts of spies. But, one of them works for the other side. That's pretty much the goal of the movie, to find out who the mole in MI6 is and reporting back to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
We won't spoil anything by giving it away, but we will say you can look for a bunch of Anglo favorites including Benedict Cumberbatch (who inspired this list), John Hurt, Mark Strong, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones, Stephen Graham and Kathy Burke.
7. The Pissed Off Spy
Angelina Jolie took on the role of Evelyn Salt in 2010's Salt. She is a skilled, focused and loyal agent to the CIA. But, when she's accused of being a double-agent, she goes on the run. While her rogue mission is to avoid being detained and clearing her name, she also has her sights on tracking the actual KA-12 Russian agents.
You can also look for another Anglo favorite, with Chiwetel Ejiofor portraying Darryl Peabody, a counterintelligence agent. Peabody's only mission is capturing Salt.
8. The Decoder Spy
In 2014's The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch (again) teams up with Keira Knightley. Cumberbatch takes on the role of real life mathematician Alan Turing. He and his colleague, Joan Clarke (Knightley), develop a way to intercept messages during WWII. As well, they figure out a way to send out fake messages, meant for the enemy to hear but be mislead. The plan is to throw the Germans off the actual plan.
9. A Mentor Spy
In My Spy, which came out earlier this year, David Butista plays a seasoned CIA agent named J.J, with Kristen Schaal as a more green agent. But, it's not Schaal's character who is the mentee. It's a nine-year-old little girl named Sophie (Chloe Coleman), who "makes" the two spies at their hideout. J.J. is beyond mortified and agrees to Sophie's demands, which is... him teaching her the spy game.
Sophie seems like she might be a natural, and she's not above blackmail.
10. The Villain-Turned-Spy
And, finally, spies also come in animated form. In 2010's Despicable Me, we meet supervillain Gru (Steve Carrell) and his Minions. As a small child, all that Gru ever wanted was to be a villain. He lived up to that dream, but when he's fired from his "day job," he takes a turn and switches to the good side.
As well, he adopts three little girls and having them in his life makes him genuinely want to do the right thing. There are three Despicable Me movies total, with Gru and pals taking down a number of baddies.
What kind of spy does it for you? Please feel free to make additions!