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The Best '80s Spy Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated October 7, 2019 1.1k votes 249 voters 9.5k views 34 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite espionage films that were released in the 1980s

The best '80s spy movies feature plenty of thrills, deception, deep cover, and special operations. Spy movies can take two routes - they will either deal with espionage realistically, or through fantasy story telling. Some of the most popular '80s spy movies feature cool gadgets and gear that might not be realistic to use in real life, but make for great film content! 


So what are the greatest ‘80s spy movies? Any discussion of the spy genre has to start with the ultimate fictional spy: James Bond. 007 has been delighting audiences since the 1960s. The ‘80s saw three different Bonds. Sean Connery, often regarded as the best of them all, appeared in his final Bond film, Never Say Never Again, in 1983. The other two ‘80s Bonds were Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton. Moore played the role well into his fifties, making him the oldest actor to play the super-spy.  

In addition to the ever-popular James Bond films, many of the top ‘80s spy movies centered around Cold War fears and anxieties. The Falcon and the Snowman is a prime example. Starring Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn, the film tells the story of two friends who get caught up in a scheme involving selling secrets to the Soviets.

 


Vote up the best spy movies from the 1980s, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section! 

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1
For Your Eyes Only is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Roger Moore, Sheena Easton, Charles Dance

Released: 1981

Directed by: John Glen

For Your Eyes Only is the twelfth spy film in the James Bond series, and the fifth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It marked the directorial debut of John Glen, who ...more

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#212 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #284 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books #370 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

2
The Living Daylights is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Timothy Dalton, John Rhys-Davies, J.J. Barry

Released: 1987

Directed by: John Glen

The Living Daylights is the fifteenth entry in the James Bond film series and the first to star Timothy Dalton as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film's title is taken from Ian Fleming's ...more

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#373 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #1,277 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #34 of 92 The Most Rewatchable Action Movies

3
A View to a Kill is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Christopher Walken, Roger Moore, Grace Jones

Released: 1985

Directed by: John Glen

This film is the fourteenth spy film of the James Bond series, and the seventh and last to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Although the title is adapted from Ian ...more

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#210 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #1,149 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #424 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

4
Licence to Kill is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Benicio del Toro, Timothy Dalton, Talisa Soto

Released: 1989

Directed by: John Glen

This film, released in 1989, is the sixteenth entry in the James Bond film series by Eon Productions, and the first one not to use the title of an Ian Fleming story. It is the fifth consecutive ...more

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#261 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #37 of 92 The Most Rewatchable Action Movies #172 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

5
Octopussy is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan

Released: 1983

Directed by: John Glen

Octopussy is the thirteenth entry in the Eon Productions James Bond film series, and the sixth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film's title is taken from a short ...more

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#218 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #1,188 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #249 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books

6
Top Secret! is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Val Kilmer, Omar Sharif, Peter Cushing

Released: 1984

Directed by: Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Top Secret! is a 1984 action comedy film directed by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker, whose previous picture had been Airplane! It stars Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Omar Sharif, ...more

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#262 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #279 of 1,030 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #1,345 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

7
Never Say Never Again is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Sean Connery, Kim Basinger, Rowan Atkinson

Released: 1983

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

Never Say Never Again is a 1983 spy film based on the James Bond novel Thunderball, which was previously adapted in 1965 under that name. Unlike the majority of Bond films, Never Say Never Again ...more

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8
The Fourth Protocol is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Pierce Brosnan, Michael Caine, Ned Beatty

Released: 1987

Directed by: John Mackenzie

The Fourth Protocol is a 1987 British Cold War spy film featuring Michael Caine and Pierce Brosnan, based on the novel The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth.

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9
Remo Williams: The Adven... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Anthony Hopkins, Kate Mulgrew, Wilford Brimley

Released: 1985

Directed by: Guy Hamilton

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, also released as Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous, is a 1985 American action-adventure-thriller film directed by Guy Hamilton. The film featured Fred Ward, Joel ...more

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10
Spies Like Us is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Bob Hope

Released: 1985

Directed by: John Landis

Spies Like Us is a 1985 American comedy film directed by John Landis and starring Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Forrest, and Donna Dixon. The film presents the comic adventures of two novice ...more

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11
Gotcha! is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Linda Fiorentino, Anthony Edwards, Alex Rocco

Released: 1985

Directed by: Jeff Kanew

Gotcha! is a 1985 comedy-action film, starring Anthony Edwards and Linda Fiorentino and directed by Jeff Kanew, who also directed Anthony Edwards in Revenge of the Nerds in 1984.

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12
The Bourne Identity is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Jaclyn Smith, Richard Chamberlain, Denholm Elliott

Released: 1988

Directed by: Roger Young

The Bourne Identity is a 1988 television movie adaptation of Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Identity. The film was directed by Roger Young for Warner Bros. Television with Richard Chamberlain ...more
13
Little Nikita is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Sidney Poitier, River Phoenix, Loretta Devine

Released: 1988

Directed by: Richard Benjamin

Little Nikita is a 1988 American cult drama film directed by Richard Benjamin and starring River Phoenix and Sidney Poitier. The film marks the first collaboration between Phoenix and Poitier.

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14
Invasion U.S.A. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Chuck Norris, Billy Drago, Eddie Jones

Released: 1985

Directed by: Joseph Zito

Invasion U.S.A. is a 1985 action film made by Cannon Films starring Chuck Norris. It was directed by Joseph Zito. Both Chuck Norris and his brother, Aaron, were involved in the writing. It was ...more

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#374 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #86 of 98 The Best Action Movies of the 1980s #554 of 740 The Greatest Action Movies of All Time

15
The Falcon and the Snowm... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton, Michael Ironside

Released: 1985

Directed by: John Schlesinger

The Falcon and the Snowman is a 1985 spy film directed by John Schlesinger about two young American men, Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee, who sold U.S. security secrets to the Soviet Union. ...more

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16
Condorman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Oliver Reed, Barbara Carrera, Michael Crawford

Released: 1981

Directed by: Charles Jarrott

Condorman is a 1981 American adventure/comedy superhero film from Walt Disney Productions starring Michael Crawford, Barbara Carrera and Oliver Reed. Inspired by Robert Sheckley's The Game of X, ...more

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17
Eye of the Needle is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Kate Nelligan

Released: 1981

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Eye of the Needle is a 1981 American spy film directed by Richard Marquand and starring Donald Sutherland and Kate Nelligan. Based on the novel of the same title by Ken Follett, the film is ...more
18
The Osterman Weekend is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
John Hurt, Dennis Hopper, Burt Lancaster

Released: 1983

Directed by: Sam Peckinpah

The Osterman Weekend is a 1983 suspense thriller film directed by Sam Peckinpah, based on the novel of the same name by Robert Ludlum. The film stars Rutger Hauer, John Hurt, Burt Lancaster, ...more
19
Target is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Gene Hackman, Matt Dillon, Josef Sommer

Released: 1985

Directed by: Arthur Penn

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Target is a 1985 film directed by Arthur Penn. It stars Matt Dillon and Gene Hackman.
20
Jumpin' Jack Flash is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Whoopi Goldberg, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz

Released: 1986

Directed by: Penny Marshall

Jumpin' Jack Flash is a 1986 spy comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg. The film was directed by Penny Marshall in her theatrical film directorial debut. The film was one of the first to feature ...more

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#270 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #126 of 280 The Best Whodunit Movieslisted on The Very Best Movies About Hackers

21
Trenchcoat is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Margot Kidder, David Suchet, Jennifer Darling

Released: 1983

Directed by: Michael Tuchner

Trenchcoat is a 1983 American action/comedy film starring Margot Kidder and Robert Hays.

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22
Hopscotch is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Walter Matthau, Sam Waterston, Ned Beatty

Released: 1980

Directed by: Ronald Neame

Hopscotch is a 1980 American film directed by Ronald Neame and produced by Edie Landau and Ely A. Landau. It was written by Bryan Forbes and Brian Garfield, based on Garfield's novel of the same ...more
23
Outrageous Fortune is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Bette Midler, George Carlin, Shelley Long

Released: 1987

Directed by: Arthur Hiller

Outrageous Fortune is a 1987 American film written by Leslie Dixon, directed by Arthur Hiller, and stars Shelley Long and Bette Midler. The title is taken from Shakespeare's Hamlet. The film was ...more
24
The Little Drummer Girl ... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Diane Keaton, Bill Nighy, Klaus Kinski

Released: 1984

Directed by: George Roy Hill

The Little Drummer Girl is a 1984 American spy film directed by George Roy Hill and adapted from the 1983 novel The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré. It starred Diane Keaton, Yorgo ...more
25
The Scarlet Pimpernel is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '80s Spy Movies
Ian McKellen, Jane Seymour, Anthony Andrews

Released: 1982

Directed by: Clive Donner

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a 1982 British romantic adventure film set during the French Revolution. It is based on the novels The Scarlet Pimpernel and Eldorado by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, and ...more