Real life spies are, in general, pretty boring. They make “friends” with people overseas and convince those people to give information to their government, learn about non-video game-related technology, and write lots of reports. Movie spies, however, wear cool outfits and crazy disguises, jump through explosions, and speak dozens of languages. They’re who we all secretly wish we were. Here are 10 of the absolute coolest movie spies.
1. Evelyn Salt
From the 2006 movie Salt, Evelyn Salt is one of those super spies with endless skills, smarts, and endurance. The role was originally written for a man and offered to Tom Cruise, which is what’s so cool about Salt — her gender isn’t important. She’s just a badass spy who, yeah, also happens to look like Angelina Jolie.
2. Ethan Hunt
Ethan Hunt climbs up the outside of the Burj Khalifa at age 50. He rides motorcycles, perfects disguises, and talks on flip phones. He can seduce anyone, pick up any skill, and survive any car wreck. But when he’s playing Ethan Hunt, Tom Cruise never makes it look TOO easy. I heard an amazing story that on the set of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Cruise told the director that if it looked like he was scared for his life when filming the scene where he hangs off the side of an airplane, it’s just his acting. Cruise’s acting is so good he has to warn his directors about it.
3. Ilsa Faust
Swede Rebeca Ferguson plays Ethan Hunt’s collaborator, nemesis, and love interest in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. It’s hard to steal scenes from Tom Cruise but Ferguson manages it. Ilsa Faust is mysterious, smart, and a little sad. She’s comfortable on a motorcycle, impromptu zip line, or dressed to the nines at the opera. Her knife fight is one of the rawest scenes in any Mission: Impossible movie. And that yellow dress, am I right?
4. James Bond
James Bond is THE cool spy. Like, this list could have just been different iterations of James Bond and you would have been like, “yeah, makes sense”. He’s got the suits, the gadgets, and the iconic catchphrase — “Shaken, not stirred”. But hey, real quick, can anyone taste the difference between a martini that’s been stirred or not? I’m sure I could not. I tried a martini once and it was disgusting.
5. Bridget von Hammersmarck
Diane Kruger’s gorgeous, glamorous actress/spy is one of the best parts of Inglourious Basterds. She’s a German film star who’s secretly spying for the British. She speaks German, English, and Italian beautifully, and never looks anything less than perfect. She can charm anyone because, well, just look at her. She’s one of the coolest movie spies of all time for mixing movie star charm with Nazi-defeating spycraft.
6. Bryan Mills
Liam Neeson in Taken became one of the coolest spies in movie history from his first speech alone. You know the one I’m talking about. He has a particular set of skills, and those skills include ass kicking, ass kicking, and more ass kicking.
7. Jason Bourne
Everyone has dreamed of suddenly realizing they have incredible skills they never knew about. For Jason Bourne, that’s a reality. He can kick major ass and he doesn’t even know why. His memory loss also gives him a sweetness and innocence no other spy is capable of. Plus he’s Matt Damon, so he’s a likeable spy with surprise skills. What’s cooler than that?
8 & 9. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
That’s right, Angelina is on the list twice. She and Brad Pitt portray the ultimate spies — flawless in their completely impossible craft while also being better-looking than everyone in the room. And, you know, they’re Brad and Angie. Ugh. Brad and Angie. 2016 sucked.
10. Ilya Kuryakin
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is an all-around awesome movie, but Armie Hammer’s Ilya Kuryakin steals the show. He has the Russian accent, unique sense of humor/humorlessness, and the world’s most charming anger problems. That feels weird to write, but if you’ve seen the movie, you know what I mean. And as this clip shows, there is no spy with a better fashion sense than Ilya Kuryakin.
Who do you think is the coolest movie spy? Who did I miss? Tweet at me and let me know @erikaheidewald!