8 must-watch spy movies to stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and more
Every time I watch a Bond film, I have the same questions looming over me. Are all real-life spies this handsome and dapper? Are intelligent officers irresistibly charming and witty enough to talk their way out of a jam? Are they truly privy to futuristic gadgets and weapons that, at times, defy the laws of physics? Radioactive lint or rings that can shatter bulletproof glass, anyone? We may never find concrete answers. But the fascination over spy films will never wane (for those very same reasons).
The tribulations of the cloaked and armed render themselves to cinematic delight: brushes with death, sophisticated schemes, government secrets, brilliant disguises, and thrilling double crosses. In short, spy movies are the perfect form of escapism. Stories about espionage date back to the earliest days of cinema, notably with Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps in the ’30s, and show no signs of dying down anytime soon. Up ahead are some of the best stories of those who operate in shadows, which you can watch from the comfort of your couch.
Ek Tha Tiger (2012)
Director and co-writer Kabir Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger is a classic tale about falling in love with your enemy. The story illustrates the life of a RAW agent code-named ‘Tiger’ (essayed by Salman Khan). A relatively safe mission takes him to Dublin, Ireland, where he needs to keep a close eye on an Indian-origin nuclear scientist who is suspected of sharing his research findings with the Pakistan defence establishment. He then befriends the scientist’s assistant Zoya (played by Katrina Kaif), and falls in love with her. What follows is a tumultuous journey between the two.
After the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, a covert counter-espionage team named ‘Baby’ is formed, led by intelligent officer Ajay Singh (Akshay Kumar). In the lead up to a tip about an impending terrorist attack masterminded by a maniacal leader, the trail-basis unit traverses to Nepal, Turkey and the Middle East. If caught, the government will maintain plausible deniability about them. As the plot progresses, Baby faces escalating challenges with time ticking against them. Will they manage to stop the threat to India? Watch to find out.
The Meghna Gulzar directorial sees Alia Bhatt turning in an on-the-money performance as the protagonist, with supporting roles by Vicky Kaushal and Jaideep Ahlawat, among other actors. The 2018 spy thriller is a dramatised adaptation of Harinder Sikka’s 2008 novel ‘Calling Sehmat’. The story unfolds in the ’70s, when a timid Kashmiri student is convinced by her ailing father to marry into a family of military officials in Pakistan to relay war-related information to India. After some sharp training as a spy, she tries to thwart the neighbouring country’s plans with her guile and charm.
The 39 Steps (1935)
Aesthetically-pleasing and revolutionary in its time, Alfred Hitchcock’s second film is a masterpiece. The classic spy film elevated Hitchcock’s status as one of the leading directors in the genre and employed themes that became hallmarks of his movies. The cinematic page-turner concerns a Londoner, Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) who tries to help a counterespionage agent. After the agent is killed, Richard stands accused. He goes on to clear his name and stop a corrupt cabal called The 39 Steps from trying to steal top secret information.