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The Best '80s Spy Movies

Updated October 7, 2019 1.2k votes 261 voters 10.6k views34 items

List RulesVote 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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  • The Living Daylights1
    61
    19

    The Living Daylights

    Timothy Dalton, John Rhys-Davies

    Released1987

    Directed byJohn Glen

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  • A View to a Kill2
    55
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    A View to a Kill

    Christopher Walken, Roger Moore

    Released1985

    Directed byJohn Glen

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  • Licence to Kill3
    51
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    Licence to Kill

    Benicio del Toro, Timothy Dalton

    Released1989

    Directed byJohn Glen

    This film, released in 1989, is the sixteenth entry in the James Bond film series by Eon... more on Wikipedia

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    #31 of 92 The Most Rewatchable Action Movies#259 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

  • Octopussy4
    52
    25

    Octopussy

    Roger Moore, Maud Adams

    Released1983

    Directed byJohn Glen

    Octopussy is the thirteenth entry in the Eon Productions James Bond film series, and the sixth... more on Wikipedia
  • For Your Eyes Only5
    63
    41

    For Your Eyes Only

    Roger Moore, Sheena Easton

    Released1981

    Directed byJohn Glen

    For Your Eyes Only is the twelfth spy film in the James Bond series, and the fifth to star... more on Wikipedia
  • Top Secret!6
    37
    20

    Top Secret!

    Val Kilmer, Omar Sharif

    Released1984

    Directed byJerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker

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  • Never Say Never Again7
    38
    26

    Never Say Never Again

    Sean Connery, Kim Basinger

    Released1983

    Directed byIrvin Kershner

    Never Say Never Again is a 1983 spy film based on the James Bond novel Thunderball, which was... more on Wikipedia
  • The Fourth Protocol8
    32
    20

    The Fourth Protocol

    Pierce Brosnan, Michael Caine

    Released1987

    Directed byJohn Mackenzie

    The Fourth Protocol is a 1987 British Cold War spy film featuring Michael Caine and Pierce... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Gotcha!9
    25
    14

    Gotcha!

    Linda Fiorentino, Anthony Edwards

    Released1985

    Directed byJeff Kanew

    Gotcha! is a 1985 comedy-action film, starring Anthony Edwards and Linda Fiorentino and... more on Wikipedia

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  • Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins10
    28
    20

    Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins

    Anthony Hopkins, Kate Mulgrew

    Released1985

    Directed byGuy Hamilton

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  • The Bourne Identity11
    20
    10

    The Bourne Identity

    Jaclyn Smith, Richard Chamberlain

    Released1988

    Directed byRoger Young

    The Bourne Identity is a 1988 television movie adaptation of Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne... more on Wikipedia
  • Spies Like Us12
    28
    20

    Spies Like Us

    Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd

    Released1985

    Directed byJohn Landis

    Spies Like Us is a 1985 American comedy film directed by John Landis and starring Chevy Chase,... more on Wikipedia
  • Little Nikita13
    17
    12

    Little Nikita

    Sidney Poitier, River Phoenix

    Released1988

    Directed byRichard Benjamin

    Little Nikita is a 1988 American cult drama film directed by Richard Benjamin and starring... more on Wikipedia

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  • Invasion U.S.A.14
    15
    13

    Invasion U.S.A.

    Chuck Norris, Billy Drago

    Released1985

    Directed byJoseph Zito

    Invasion U.S.A. is a 1985 action film made by Cannon Films starring Chuck Norris. It was... more on Wikipedia

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    #82 of 112 The Best Action Movies Of The 1980s#577 of 723 The Greatest Action Movies Of All Time

  • The Little Drummer Girl15
    15
    13

    The Little Drummer Girl

    Diane Keaton, Bill Nighy

    Released1984

    Directed byGeorge Roy Hill

    The Little Drummer Girl is a 1984 American spy film directed by George Roy Hill and adapted... more on Wikipedia
  • Eye of the Needle16
    15
    16

    Eye of the Needle

    Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy

    Released1981

    Directed byRichard Marquand

    Eye of the Needle is a 1981 American spy film directed by Richard Marquand and starring Donald... more on Wikipedia
  • The Osterman Weekend17
    13
    13

    The Osterman Weekend

    John Hurt, Dennis Hopper

    Released1983

    Directed bySam Peckinpah

    The Osterman Weekend is a 1983 suspense thriller film directed by Sam Peckinpah, based on the... more on Wikipedia
  • Outrageous Fortune18
    13
    14

    Outrageous Fortune

    Bette Midler, George Carlin

    Released1987

    Directed byArthur Hiller

    Outrageous Fortune is a 1987 American film written by Leslie Dixon, directed by Arthur Hiller,... more on Wikipedia
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel19
    10
    11

    The Scarlet Pimpernel

    Ian McKellen, Jane Seymour

    Released1982

    Directed byClive Donner

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  • Condorman20
    11
    13

    Condorman

    Oliver Reed, Barbara Carrera

    Released1981

    Directed byCharles Jarrott

    Condorman is a 1981 American adventure/comedy superhero film from Walt Disney Productions... more on Wikipedia

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  • Real Men21
    9
    12

    Real Men

    John Ritter, Jim Belushi

    Released1987

    Directed byDennis Feldman

    Real Men is a 1987 comedy/science fiction film starring James Belushi and John Ritter as the... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Target22
    10
    13

    Target

    Gene Hackman, Matt Dillon

    Released1985

    Directed byArthur Penn

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    Target is a 1985 film directed by Arthur Penn. It stars Matt Dillon and Gene Hackman.

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  • The Falcon and the Snowman23
    12
    17

    The Falcon and the Snowman

    Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton

    Released1985

    Directed byJohn Schlesinger

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  • Hopscotch24
    9
    15

    Hopscotch

    Walter Matthau, Sam Waterston

    Released1980

    Directed byRonald Neame

    Hopscotch is a 1980 American film directed by Ronald Neame and produced by Edie Landau and Ely... more on Wikipedia
  • Trenchcoat25
    7
    13

    Trenchcoat

    Margot Kidder, David Suchet

    Released1983

    Directed byMichael Tuchner

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

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