Ranking The Best Spy Movies of 2015!
The Grandaddy of all spy movies. It’s really commendable that the James Bond franchise has been able to survive for over 50 years.
The Daniel Craig era has been a mixed bag from the highly critical reaction from fans when he was first cast to the almost universal acceptance he received once Casino Royale finally came out. While Craig’s performance as Bond has improved with every movie, The quality of the movies post Casino Royale have steadily declines. Quantum of Solace was a mess and while Skyfall was a good movie it still had it’s problems. Regardless Skyfall grossed over a billion dollars worldwide and therein lies the main reason Spectre is such a big disappointment.
On paper Spectre had everything going for it ; Sam Mendes was back in the director’s chair after much courting by the makers along with the same writers who wrote Skyfall, They had one of the best actors on the planet as their main antagonist in Christoph Waltz and they had one of the most popular singers on the era in Sam Smith singing the theme song but boy o boy was the final product a disaster. After a pretty good opening sequence set during the “Day of The Dead” festival in Mexico the movie just becomes a long, uneventful and inconsistent. Waltz is wasted in the limited screen time he has and the so called secrecy regarding his character was obvious to the fans from the moment he was cast. Compared to the past Craig movies Spectre tried to bring the charm and style of the old pre-reboot bond movies with a bit more humor and even tried to introduce a new Bond Henchman in Dave Bautista but sadly they could not capitalize on it. Finally, Sam Smith’s theme is possibly one of the most forgettable bond theme of all time something which especially sad as it comes after Adele’s brilliant Skyfall theme.
While Spectre no doubt is a blockbuster worldwide and will probably cross the billion dollar mark, but as a Bond film it fails miserably. One thing it does right though is that it neatly ties of all of Craig’s Bond movies together. So if Craig decides not to return for a 5th time it wouldn’t be that much of a problem. I’ve personally felt like many others that Craig’s movies are a little too gritty , extreme & Jason Bournish for a James Bond movie ( Having grown up in the Pierce Brosnan Era ) compared to the Bond movies of the past. Hopefully EON productions go back to the basics with future movies and stop trying to make Bond into a John Mclane/Jason Bourne kind of hero.
The only movie on the list which is a full blown comedy is Spy. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law and (in a very surprising comedic role) Jason Statham. While this movie has been getting raves all around I personally felt it was pretty generic and not that memorable. I often found myself checking my phone while watching it. The highlight of the movie is Jason Statham, who shows of his comedic chops with great ease. it’s really wonderful seeing Statham in a role like this which is completely different from his tough-guy action movie roles. Jude Law is fine as the James Bond type super suave agent.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E (3)
The 2nd movie of the year to be based on a 60’s TV show after M:I and the only one not to be set in contemporary times, something which actually works for this particular movie. Both Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer make fine leading men and the chemistry between them is brilliant. The movie as a whole falters a bit in the pacing and action areas while one of it’s strongest areas are the brilliant “Old Film” style cinematography and the amazing soundtrack. The antagonist played by Elizabeth Debicki is one of the weakest you’ll ever see in a spy movie. Had the makers focused a bit more on the story and added some substance rather than all style and glitz the movie could have been a more fun to watch.
Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation (2)
It’s hard for franchises to remain this strong when they are on their fifth movie CoughDieHardCough but The Mission Impossible franchise is one which is actually improving with each movie. After the mixed to negative response to the MI2, Cruise brought JJ Abrams on board and ever since the quality of the movies in the franchise has gone up. Mission Impossible IV in 2011 was quite possibly the best movie of the year. It had the excellent direction of Brad Bird (The Incredibles) and a strong script. Another aspect which seperates the MI franchise from the other spy franchises out there is the focus on the team aspect. Tom Cruise is definitely the face of the franchise but with each film the franchise manages to cast fantastic actors as part of Ethan’s team.
Rogue Nation not only maintains the above quality aspects of the franchise (from the crazy stunts by Cruise to Simon Pegg’s witty humour) but also adds to it in the form of finally giving the viewers a strong female lead who is not overly sexualised or there just to be the eye-candy. Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Frost goes toe-to-toe with Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and is an equal to him in every way. Christopher McQuarrie’s solid direction and script work makes Rogue Nation another another excellent entry into the franchise although Ghost Protocol still remains the best of the series. Jeremy Renner should have been given more to do ( It’s surprising considering he was originally brought onboard to eventually replace Cruise). The 2nd weak aspect is the lack of a real antagonist. All of the main antagonists of the franchise bar the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman have been pretty average. Hopefully this is something Cruise and Co will look into for the 6th part which is currently in development.
Kingsman : The Secret Service (1)
It’s become a trend in recent years following the success of the Bourne franchise that Spy/Espionage movies have been shedding the comedic and lighter elements in exchange for becoming more gritty and grounded. While this approach is giving positive results to quiet a few franchises, i’ve never been a fan of every movie/franchise going this route and this is what makes Kingsman a very different and extremely entertaining movie to watch.
Based on the graphic novel by Mark Miller, Kingsman is basically Bond on steroids and then some, with solid performances by Colin Firth as the older mentor spy to Taron Egerton’s young newbie to the insane action( that church scene ) and a steady dose of comedy. Matthew Vaughn’s direction is perfect as usual and the supporting performances by Michael Caine, Mark Hamill and Samuel L Jackson as the main antagonist with a lisp and hatred for bloodshed are strong.
The entire cast seemed to be having a ball while making the movie which only adds to the overall experience of the movie.
Kingsman pays a tribute of sorts to the Bond movies of the past ( especially the Roger Moore era ) with the campy comedy and over-the-top action and succeeds in proving that a Spy movie doesn’t need to be all dark and angst filled to succeed in the current era.