George Clooney stars in 'Burn After Reading' from Joel and Ethan Coen

‘Burn After Reading’ – unclassified CIA laughs on Amazon Prime

Burn After Reading (2008) – After the darkness of No Country for Old Men, the Coen Bros. eased up with a deadpan espionage farce played out by small fish convinced that they are in deep waters, a film much lighter and significantly slighter but put together with such perfection that you can’t help but be […]

‘Skyfall’ – James Bond faces his past on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Skyfall (2012), the 23rd official James Bond movie, attempts to make 007 more man than number as it works through some of Bond’s issues (James Bond has issues?) while he grudgingly returns to her majesty’s secret service when a conspiracy targets M and MI-5. It takes itself awfully seriously while doing some pretty crazy things […]

‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ – Matt Damon’s final run on Peacock

Matt Damon returns in the “Bourne” franchise in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), playing the great anti-Bond of Hollywood action cinema for his third and final time. Jason Bourne is a former covert assassin essentially programmed by the CIA to be an emotionless killing machine, and he’s determined to reclaim his identity and his humanity. His […]

‘Haywire’ – bad-ass action on HBO Max

Haywire (2011) is Steven Soderbergh’s drive-in assassin action movie by way of a sleek art-house conspiracy thriller. According to the director, the film sprung from his desire to develop a film around the talents and skill of mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano, and the finished film — which casts Carano as a covert agent […]

Alan Arkin and Peter Falk star in the hilarious 1979 comedy written by Andrew Bergman

The original ‘The In-Laws’ on Criterion Channel

“You interested in joining the CIA? The benefits are great. The trick in not getting killed. That’s the key to the whole benefits program.” Ever had a relative who thinks they’re part of the CIA? Ever had one who really was? The original The In-Laws (1979) tackles both at once and delivers one of the […]

‘The Tall Target’ – steam noir on Criterion Channel

Anthony Mann’s The Tall Target (1951) is a rare period piece noir. This one is set in 1860 and the tall target of the title is President-elect Abraham Lincoln. Dick Powell plays the lone police detective who believes in the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln on his journey to be sworn in as President and, in […]

‘Ministry of Fear’ – World War II spy noir on Criterion Channel

You could call the conspiratorial wartime thriller Ministry of Fear (1944) Hitchcockian, at least in its play with an innocent man swept up in international intrigue, but the sensibility comes from its director, Fritz Lang. Ray Milland is the wrong man here, recently released from a mental asylum (he was sentenced for the mercy killing […]

Richard Burton is ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ on Amazon Prime

Richard Burton is Alec Leamas, a once-sturdy MI-6 agent who has become a disillusioned burn-out after seeing too many fellow agents die, in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Martin Ritt’s superb film of John le Carré’s novel. The author was a British agent in his own right and his books were […]

‘A Most Wanted Man’ free on Hoopla

A Most Wanted Man (2014) is the final film completed by Philip Seymour Hoffman before his untimely death in 2014. That alone is reason enough to see the film, adapted from the post 9/11 novel by John le Carré and directed by Anton Corbijn, a music video veteran who becomes more accomplished with each feature. […]