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15 Best Movies Like James Bond


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Summary

  • Tenet: A sci-fi time-travel movie that captures the essence of the Craig era of Bond films. Christopher Nolan’s influence on action-thrillers is evident.
  • Salt: Angelina Jolie shines as a betrayed CIA agent, delivering Cold War thrills reminiscent of early Bond movies.
  • Our Kind of Traitor: A civilian couple caught in a shadowy international plot. Rich characters and intelligent conversations make it a must-watch for fans of Ian Fleming’s novels.

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Movies like James Bond offer fans a look at super spies, espionage, and world-threatening situations. James Bond is one of the most iconic movie characters of all time, a super spy who has been a huge box office draw for well over 50 years. As a result of this, Bond movies have also formed the basis for not only other serious adaptations of spy novels but parodies of the genre. With so many movies directly inspired by the series, fans searching to find movies like James Bond’s adventures discover that it’s not hard to find.

The release of No Time to Die closed out the highly-acclaimed Daniel Craig era of Bond movies, leaving many longtime fans of the franchise pumped up for more spy movie thrills even though the role has yet to be recast and a new installment is still very far away on the horizon. Now more than ever is the time for 007 fans to be looking to the past for some of the great movies that have inspired the Bond franchise as well as the thrillers that have taken inspiration from it.

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15 Tenet (2020)

A Sci-Fi Time-Travel Movie Like James Bond

Tenet

Release Date
September 3, 2020

Distributor(s)
Warner Bros. Pictures

Tenet is a must-watch for fans of the Craig era of 007 films, despite the far heavier science-fiction elements of its plot. Many film fans have called for Christopher Nolan to take on the Bond franchise in earnest as its influence on some of his action-thriller movies, especially his hugely popular Batman trilogy, is quite evident. Tenet is the closest that Nolan has come so far to producing a Bond film, with John David Washington’s secret agent embarking on a high-concept mission to prevent a world-ending plot involving time manipulation.

14 Salt (2010)

Angelina Jolie Stars As A Betrayed CIA Agent

Angelina Jolie pointing a gun in Salt

Salt

Release Date
July 23, 2010

Director
Phillip Noyce

Cast
Angelina Jolie , Liev Schreiber , Daniel Olbrychski , August Diehl , Chiwetel Ejiofor

Writers
Kurt Wimmer

Studio(s)
Columbia Pictures

Angelina Jolie steps into the spy game to make the titular Evelyn Salt a super spy worth mentioning alongside both Bond and Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. A CIA agent accused of being a traitor, Salt goes on the run to prevent a wider plot involving a hidden team of Russian sleeper agents who have secretly infiltrated the highest levels of the U.S. government. Fans of early Bond movies should love its take on Cold War thrills and fans of the more recent Bond movies won’t be left disappointed by Jolie’s confidence as an action star.

13 Our Kind Of Traitor (2016)

A Regular Couple Sucked Into A Spy Thriller

Naomie Harris, Damien Lewis and Ewan McGregor in Our Kind of Traitor

Our Kind of Traitor

Release Date
May 13, 2016

Director
Susanna White

Cast
Ewan McGregor , Naomie Harris , Stellan Skarsgård , Damian Lewis , Velibor Topic

Adapted from the novel of the same name by John le Carré, Our Kind of Traitor follows a civilian couple who become embroiled in a shadowy international plot involving illegal money and assassination. The approach to the spy world is certainly more old-school Bond than latter-day Bond, but the intelligent conversations driving the plot forward keep the tension as high as elaborate action sequences do. Fans of Ian Fleming’s novels should seek it out for its rich characters and story details, while movie fans won’t want to miss the impressive ensemble.

12 Jack Reacher (2012)

Tom Cruise Stars In The Lee Child Adaptation

Jack Reacher holds a gun in Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher

Release Date
December 21, 2012

Director
Christopher McQuarrie

Writers
Christopher McQuarrie

Distributor(s)
Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise brought Jack Reacher to the big screen, and, while they might not have the same expensive tastes as Bond, the highly-trained sleuth shares his distinctly uncompromising attitude. With a mysterious European villain (Werner Herzog), Jack Reacher is a gripping mystery with all the tension and quality of a James Bond movie. Based on One Shot, Reacher takes on an elusive criminal organization that hides its ruthless business tactics of intimidation and murder from the wider world.

11 Atomic Blonde (2017)

Charlize Theron In A John Wick-Style Adventure

Atomic Blonde

Release Date
July 26, 2017

Director
David Leitch

Cast
Charlize Theron , Eddie Marsan , John Goodman , James Faulkner , Toby Jones , James McAvoy , Daniel Bernhardt , Sofia Boutella

Writers
Kurt Johnstad , Antony Johnston , Sam Hart

Distributor(s)
Focus Features

In Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron plays secret agent Lorraine Broughton, who’s sent to Berlin on a mission to find out who murdered her colleague and to recover an important list. The brutality of the action scenes is the best testament to Theron’s commitment to the role, which sees the super spy showing off her Bond-like skills as both a lover and a fighter. The movie is a lot more visually stylized than the James Bond franchise ever is, but that spills over into the action sequences and doesn’t just linger in the backdrops.

10 North By Northwest (1959)

Alfred Hitchcock’s Spy Masterpiece

Cary Grant runs from a plane in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest

North By Northwest

Release Date
September 8, 1959

Cast
Eva Marie Saint , James Mason , Cary Grant , Leo G. Carroll , Jessie Royce Landis

Writers
Ernest Lehman

Distributor(s)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Alfred Hitchcock was a master filmmaker, and his 1956 masterpiece, North by Northwest, is one of several Hitchcock movies that informed the spy genre before Dr. No came out and directly inspired the Bond franchise. The film follows a New York City ad executive (Cary Grant), as he finds himself on the run for his life after being confused with a government agent by international spies. Grant’s performance in Notorious would leave a clear blueprint for Bond as a character, and the movie was hugely influential for the genre.

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9 Three Days Of The Condor (1975)

Robert Redford In A Spy Thriller From The 1970s

Robert Redford wearing a coat and glasses in Three Days of the Condor

Stream now on Prime Video

Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway star in this icy thriller that uses a more subversive urban-set conspiracy story than Roger Moore’s campier James Bond adventures in the mid-1970s. Redford takes on the role of a CIA researcher who finds all of his co-workers assassinated when he returns from lunch, forcing him to go on the run in New York City and stay one step ahead of those trying to kill him. Three Days of the Condor is an iconic spy movie that helped shape the genre as much as some of the classic James Bond movies did.

8 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Gary Oldman’s Take On George Smiley

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Release Date
September 16, 2011

Director
Tomas Alfredson

Writers
Bridget O’Connor , Peter Straughan

Studio(s)
StudioCanal

Adapted from the novel of the same name by John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a Cold War thriller set during the 1970s and follows George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman, a former British agent who is brought back into the spy game to find a mole. Fans of the literary side of James Bond will love the cast of the film as each of the world-class actors amplifies the stiffer-upper-lip side of Bond to its full dramatic extent and the film delves deeper into the psychology of its characters than most movies.

7 Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

A Spy Movie Based On A Graphic Novel

Colin Firth and Taron Egerton talking in front of a shoe display in Kingsman The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Release Date
February 13, 2015

Director
Matthew Vaughn

Writers
Matthew Vaughn , Jane Goldman

Studio(s)
20th Century

Stream now on Max

Kingsman: The Secret Service is more graphically violent than even 007’s darkest moments, but those elements are balanced by the film’s emphasis on comedy. The Kingsman franchise may be heavily inspired by James Bond, but it adds its twist to the spy genre. Rather than having the titular Kingsman spy organization be an extension of a government, they’re an independent body. They satirize the tropes of the genre as much as they save the world. The first film follows Eggsy as he joins the group and works to stop a master villain.

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6 The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

A Spy Movie Based On The 1960s TV Show

Alicia Vikander, Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill in The Man From UNCLE

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is an adaptation of the 1960s TV series of the same name and follows two spies, one from the USA and one from the Soviet Union, who work with the daughter of a missing scientist to stop a plot involving a nuclear bomb. Guy Ritchie brings out a back-and-forth dynamic between the main trio, evoking a classic James Bond movie feeling that could make anybody consider Henry Cavill in the role of 007. The movie’s period setting also evokes the relatively simplistic beauty of the early Bond movies from the 1960s.

5 The Bourne Identity (2002)

The Movie That Forced James Bond Movies To Change

The Bourne Identity was a game-changer for the action and spy genres. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Robert Ludlum, the story follows Jason Bourne as he is pulled out of the ocean, barely clinging to life with four bullet holes in his back. Suffering from amnesia, Bourne must uncover the truth about his past. The film was a massive success for critics and at the box office, offering a low-key take on the concept of a superspy that the 007 franchise emulated, especially in Daniel Craig’s Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.

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4 Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Tom Cruise Takes M:I To A Higher Level

Tom Cruise hanging onto the outside of the helicopter in Mission Impossible Fallout

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Release Date
July 25, 2018

Director
Christopher McQuarrie

Writers
Christopher McQuarrie

Distributor(s)
Paramount Pictures

Hailed by critics as one of the best in the series, Mission: Impossible – Fallout follows the franchise’s heroic IMF team as they attempt to prevent a nuclear attack. The film contains several of the Mission: Impossible franchise’s most death-defying stunts, ones only in danger of being topped by Cruise himself in the next installment, Dead Reckoning Part One. Henry Cavill also joined the team for this adventure, furthering his credentials for the 007 role, and the action sequences match the Bond franchise’s emphasis on practicality with impressive gusto.

3 The Rock (1996)

A Spy Movie Starring The First James Bond Actor

Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage in The Rock

The Rock

Release Date
June 7, 1996

Cast
John C. McGinley , Sean Connery , David Morse , Nicolas Cage , Michael Biehn , William Forsythe , Vanessa Marcil , Ed Harris , Tony Todd , John Spencer

Writers
Mark Rosner , David Weisberg , Douglas Cook

  • Rent now on Prime Video & Apple TV

Filled with explosive shootouts and chases, this Michael Bay thriller sees Nicolas Cage play an FBI chemical weapons expert forced to team with a captured spy to break into Alcatraz and stop a group of rogue Special Forces soldiers threatening San Francisco with deadly nerve gas. There’s an excess of the kind of action and adventure sequences that fuel the spy movies. Sean Connery’s character plays off of his past as James Bond and the action sequences on display all but guarantee a good time for 007 fans.

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2 The Ipcress File (1965)

A Spy Thriller Starring Michael Caine

Michael Caine in The Ipcress File

The Ipcress File was released during the rising popularity of James Bond in 1965 and Michael Caine portrays the main character, a spy named Harry Palmer. Unlike Bond, Palmer struggles with bureaucracy and leads a far less exotic lifestyle that focuses on the reality of post-war life in Europe. Caine reprised the role several more times and, though they never achieved the popularity of Eon Productions’ Bond films, Caine’s Harry Palmer movies remain one of their most interesting counterpoints in British cinema.

1 Patriot Games (1992)

Harrison Ford In The Jack Ryan Thriller

Stream now on Max

Patriot Games follows former CIA agent Jack Ryan as he prevents the assassination of a prominent British official. Ryan becomes the target of a terrorist, played by Sean Bean. The film features stellar performances from the cast, most notably Harrison Ford as Ryan, who reprised the role in Clear and Present Danger. Both films offer an interesting take on the espionage hero, one of the best movies like James Bond, but the British connection makes Patriot Games one of Ryan’s most Bond-like movie outings to date.

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