The Year of Spy Movies

Spectre may be the biggest spy movie released this year, but it certainly wasn’t the only one. It seems that in 2015 the spy movie genre has been given a resurgence, with no less than 6 blockbusters featuring the theme.

While the spy genre this year seems pretty diverse – we have comedy, drama and comic book adaptations – it seems that the plot doesn’t vary much from the classic spy fiction. The main plot of “Kingsmen”, “Spy” and “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” involved stopping super-bombs from blowing up or exchanging hands, while spies like Ethan Hunt (Rogue Nation) and James Bond (Spectre) go rogue. What’s interesting to note is that the tone of these movies start off being fun and lighthearted, and then progressed to more serious drama.

The Spy List

The year kicked off with titles that don’t take themselves too seriously. “Kingsmen: The Secret Service” ticks the boxes for an action/comedy flick – cue well-tailored spies and a lisping Samuel L Jackson as the villain with a ridiculous agenda – with Colin Firth as a spy mentor in the same vein as Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black.

Hot on its comedic heels is “Spy”, starring Melissa McCarthy as an overweight kick-ass female spy who manages to stop a bomb from blowing up. This movie is more about female empowerment than about spying, and is probably one of the most surprisingly entertaining films of the year (probably because not many people expected it to be).

With the fifth installment of “Mission Impossible” – Rogue Nation – we see a turn to a less comedic approach. This ‘movie where Tom hangs outside an airplane’ is all about being a cool spy, but what makes this flick bearable to watch is the diverse cast which includes funnyman Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner.

The next month came “Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, Guy Ritchie’s first foray into the spy genre. Reinforcing the ‘cool spy’ image, the movie is a slick production that resembles a high-end fashion advertisement featuring the dashing Henry Cavill, who’s constantly decked in designer stitches and never has a hair out of place. Ironically, Cavill (the Brit) plays an American spy, while Armie Hammer (the American) plays the Russian counterpart, Illya.

Then came Tom Hanks’ Bridge of Spies in October, marking the change to a more serious side of the spy genre. Based on the real life U-2 incident in 1960 involving a CIA pilot, the Spielberg-directed movie is acknowledged to have an accurate historical portrayal of the era.

The latest of the ‘serious’ spy movie is James Bond’s “Spectre”, which marks the closure of the story arc involving the current Bond (Daniel Craig). The fourth installment of Craig’s Bond features the annoying villain Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) who makes you wonder if he intends to kill Bond or torture him with monologue. With all the big marketing budget thrown at it – especially from Heineken – this is easily the most anticipated spy movie of 2015 (the most anticipated movie of 2015 would be Star Wars: The Force Awakens, of course).

Let’s not forget…

But wait, there’s more. This year’s spy season also includes teen flicks “Barely Lethal” (featuring an ex-CIA teenager who fakes her death to have a normal high-school life) and “American Ultra” which is about a teenage boy who flicks into super-killer spy mode when a codeword is whispered to him.

Then there’s “Hitman: Agent 47” in which a rogue spy-killer’s mission is to assassinate a certain villain in a high-security building located somewhere in ‘Singapore’. Yes, a lot of the movie was filmed in Singapore (you can see MBS and the CBD). Finally, let’s not forget “The Gunman”, in which Sean Penn mirrors the role of Liam Neeson in Taken (ex-agent being targeted by a hit squad).

And there you have it – 10 spy movies in 2015. Did we leave any out?