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Top 10 Big Screen Secret Agents of All Time

07.27.2018by: Alex Maidy
With MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT hitting theaters today, it seemed appropriate to look back at the annals of film history to chronicle the best spy characters of all time. From secret agents to spies, assassins and analysts, there is a long and storied history of the intelligence communities from around the world depicted on the big screen. With that in mind, here is our ranking of the ten best, coolest, and effective secret agents of all time. If you disagree with our picks or think we missed one, let us know in the comments below.

#10 Austin Powers

Not just a bumbling idiot, Austin Powers was a damn fine spy. It may seem incredulous to us looking from the outside, but Mike Myers portrayed the dentally-challenged British secret agent as foolish yet impeccably capable of defeating even the most powerful villain. As dated as these movies may seem over a decade after they hit theaters, I still would love to see a fourth entry in the franchise, transporting Richie Cunningham to the crazy world of 2018.

#9 Jack Ryan

Four actors in, Jack Ryan is poised to get rebooted once more with John Krasinski taking the lead in the upcoming Amazon Prime adaptation of Tom Clancy's franchise. But, prior to the small screen adaptation, we had four actors play the CIA analyst. Most notable was Harrison Ford who portrayed Ryan in two films. What sets the character apart from everyone else on this list is the fact that he never intended to become a field operative but somehow ends up in situations that put his natural skills to the test. Maybe someday the screen version will mirror Ryan's rise to the Presidency as in the novels.

#8 Harry Tasker

James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger found the perfect balance of action and comedy in TRUE LIES. While we will never get a sequel to the very dated portrayal of the fight against terrorism, Schwarzengger is awesome as he somehow convinces everyone that his massive muscles and brutal combat skills are typical for a suburban dad. This is also the one and only time that Tom Arnold was an appropriate sidekick.

#7 Galahad

While the younger Galahad proves himself very capable in THE GOLDEN CIRCLE, Colin Firth's Harry is the man who deserves a spot on this list. Worthy based on the church scene alone, Harry Hart is a debonair agent who is as cool and collected as James Bond and yet could kick 007's ass easily. Firth was perfectly cast as Hart and even got the chance to delve deeper into the character in the sequel.

#6 Bryan Mills

Liam Neeson has played variations of this character over the past few years, but TAKEN remains the best of the bunch. While not an active agent during the events of the film, seeing how a man could be driven to use the skills taught to him to defend the country in ways that go way against the Geneva Conventions is thrilling and kind of scary. Can you imagine if this guy were representative of real CIA agents? Kidnappings would become a distant memory!

#5 Lorraine Broughton

If ATOMIC BLONDE taught us anything, it was that women can kick ass just as well as anyone...and sometimes better. Charlize Theron eclipsed the competition and was sexier than Bond, tougher than Bourne, and did so with a way better soundtrack. If we don't get a sequel to this movie, something is wrong with Hollywood. Is it weird that I find it really sexy that she could kick my ass?

#4 Jason Bourne

While I have not been a fan of this series since the second film, I admire Matt Damon's dedication to the role. While Paul Greengrass absolutely brought a vitality to the franchise, I do like the style Doug Liman started the series with. If anyone can beat you using a rolled up magazine, that is a well-trained individual who you need to not fight. Introducing Jeremy Renner as a secondary protagonist watered down the uniqueness of who Jason Bourne is, but even the lackluster fifth film shows that he still has what it takes.

#3 Black Widow

Through seven Marvel movies, Scarlett Johansson's portrayal of Natasha Romanov has garnered a dedicated fan-base clamoring for a solo film. As one of the few Avengers without any superpowers, Black Widow is able to hold her own against gods, aliens, and all manner of comic book insanity. To do that and still be able to take a guy down with nothing more than her thighs and a well-timed spin move is damn impressive. As much as I would like to see a grounded Black Widow movie, I am still good with having her jump in to save the day alongside her enhanced colleagues.

#2 Ethan Hunt

Tom Cruise is not human. Unlike most of the actors whose characters made this list, Cruise does virtually everything you see on screen without computer enhancement. This realism lends an extra boost to just how badass Ethan Hunt is. In many ways, he is the American equivalent of James Bond with that extra edge that distinguishes him from his more debonair counterpart. Plus, the consistency of seeing one actor play the same role over six films that somehow improve upon the one that came before it is almost without equal.

#1 James Bond

Was there any doubt that 007 would rank at the top? After twenty-five films, six actors, countless directors and even more martinis, James Bond remains an icon and the benchmark against whom all other movie spies are measured. From the smooth Sean Connery to the pulpy Roger Moore all the way to the gritty Daniel Craig, each Bond holds fast to the ideals and core of Ian Fleming's creation while imbuing their own tone and style to the franchise. Without a doubt, James Bond is the coolest and best secret agent in movie history.

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