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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

quick list: five great spy movies

Do you guys like lists? I tried doing a daily list a while back, and it never seemed to connect with you all. Plus it was a lot a work because I tried to be too comprehensive, too definitive. But maybe a quicker hit of a list — and ones that didn’t pretend to be the end of the discussion instead of the beginning — would be a way to jump start some conversation? I’ll try a few of these over the next few days and see how it goes. To begin:

With Salt demonstrating that Russian spies are still hot — even though the Cold War is colder than a corpse — intelligence is confirming that espionage as an excuse for globetrotting action has never really gone out of style. The Director requests that you study these missions to see how it’s done, and further requests that you recommend your own cinematic missions for additional study:
The Bourne Identity
Jason Bourne has forgotten who he is, but he hasn’t forgotten all his superspy superskills. And he will use them if you get in his way.

(whatever your favorite James Bond movie is)
I’m not going to get into the which-Bond-movie-is-best debate. Let’s just leave it at the acknowledgement of 007 as the greatest spy in cinema history.

Three Days of the Condor
Robert Redford’s CIA analyst is forced into the field when all of his coworkers are murdered. I hate when that happens.

The Good Shepherd
This riveting drama of the early days of the CIA will make you even more suspicious of spies. They’re not very nice people, it turns out.

The Conversation
When you spy on people, sometimes you end up getting involved, as Gene Hackman discovers in this harrowing thriller.

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