Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Top Ten Movie Spies

James Bond's latest adventure Quantum of Solace, is almost here (why do these titles never make sense?) While we wait this this spy spectacular, I thought it'd be fun to compile a list of my Top 10 secret agents in cinema history (with the exception of Bond, we all know he's the best).

10. Vin Diesel as Xander Cage in xXx

Yeah, I know this movie wasn't that great. What do you expect when Vin Diesel is your star? But I gotta give this movie credit for at least trying something different. They basically took ever spy cliche in the book and reversed them, kinda like Hancock did for superheroes. Instead of a suave sophisticated British guy, Xander Cage was a crude, anti-establishment American thug. Maybe it's just the anarchist in me, but I had fun with this movie.

I'm sorry, I couldn't help it. I had to include this one, I just had too. Sure it was a lame, campy TV movie. Sure it was corny as all hell. And it was so damn awesome! This baby's one of my favorite guilty pleasures. It's sheer, explosive B-movie fun, not to mention it was written by David S. Goyer (a.k.a. the guy who wrote The Dark Knight). Forget that Sam Jackson stuff, Marvel, The Hoff is your Nick Fury.

8. Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara as Carmen & Juni Cortez in Spy Kids

Robert Rodriguez is famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) for making intentionally bad movies as homages to old films. But anyone who says that's all he does has forgotten Spy Kids. I'm not saying this film is a masterpiece any any means, but I will say it's one of the most visually creative children's films since Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The story may be old an cliche, but great actors combined this killer set pieces make for one wild ride.

7. Mike Myers as Austin Powers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

The sequels may have been awful, but this first one was pretty damn funny. It's really hard to come of with an original spy spoof, since it mostly all been done before, but Mike Myers came of with the bright idea to mix with usual James Bond parody with the psychedelic vibe of the 60's. It's a bizarre, over-the-top combination, but it works, and Mike Myers performance make it knock-down-drag-out hilarious. Not to mention he gave us a near-nude Elizabeth Hurley.

6. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Harry Tasker in True Lies

Schwarzenegger may not be much of an actor, but man does the dude know how to blow stuff up! Harry Tasker acted more like Rambo than James Bond. Why settle for a pistol when you can sport an RPG? Why drive an Aston Martin why you can fly a fighter jet? And let's not forget that he made the scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, do a striptease.

5. Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible

I'm not the biggest Tom Cruise fan, but this movie was just too friggin' cool. So often movies based on TV shows are absolute crap. Mission: Impossible was the exception. And since the characters aren't from the series, the film stands on it's own. Sure, Ethan Hunt became just another American ripoff of James Bond in the sequels progressed, but in it was a thrilling suicide mission story, with a great twist ending to boot.

4. Cary Grant as T. R. Devlin in Notorious

Though not really a spy film, this movie was amazing, and my personal favorite of Alfred Hitchcock's works. Cary Grant is perfect in this movie, as was his adversary, the always excellent Claude Rains. Though Devlin may not actually fight anybody, you know he could kick your ass any minute. Besides, James Bond never nailed a woman like Ingrid Bergman.

3. Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan in Patriot Games

Alec Baldwin may have been the first Jack Ryan, but Harrison Ford was definitely the best. As if being Han Solo and Indiana Jones wasn't enough, he had to go and become a super spy too. Going up against the always sinister Sean Bean, Ford proved once again why is is one of the greatest action stars ever. Add James Earl Jones and Samuel L. Jackson too the mix, and you've got one badass spy thriller.

2. Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity

Though I do think the Bourne films are a tad overrated, Jason Bourne is still very cool. The first film especially was very smart and well-made espionage thriller/mystery. Aside from the whole brainwashing thing, Jason Bourne is one of the most realistic spies on film. He doesn't have a laser in his watch or a submersible car, no Q to supply his every need, just his own skills and resourcefulness.

1. Clint Eastwood as Frank Horrigan in In the Line of Fire

Why? Two reasons: 1. Nobody was expecting this choice, and 2. it's Clint @#$%ing Eastwood! Even at the rip old age of 63 this guy still kicked ass, and bedded Rene Russo. Playing a Secret Service agent out to protect the President for a psychopath, Clint Eastwood never had too face a foe as insane as John Malchovich before this. Though I gotta wonder why he'd wanna risk his life for a politician?

Honorable Mention: Don Adams as Maxwell Smart in Get Smart, Again!

The reason I'm only giving this an honorable mention is because the actual TV movie wasn't very good, just a rehash of old jokes ans plots for the TV series. But Get Smart was one of my favorite TV shows of all time, and I just had to mention it. The series wasn't the greatest spoof ever, but it's one of my favorite Mel Brooks creations, and Don Adams made the lamest jokes hilarious. And no, I didn't consider give the new Get Smart movie a spot on the list, it was dreck. It disrespected and ignored everything that made the show good. May Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway rot in hell for their basterdization of those characters.

Bonus: A special no-prize too the first person to tell me how many times I used the name "James Bond" in this blog without looking back.

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