Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, in 'Carlos,' from filmmaker Olivier Assayas

‘Carlos’ – The making of a terrorist superstar on The Criterion Channel

Carlos (2010), Olivier Assayas’ epic account of the life and myth of real-life terrorist Carlos the Jackal, is a mesmerizing portrait of a committed activist who transforms himself into a media-hungry rock star of an international terrorist. Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal (a name he appropriates from a Fredrick Forsythe […]

Oscar-winning ‘The Lives of Others’ on Netflix

Is there anything more dangerous than a true believer who approaches his mission with unshakable certainty and unwavering dogma? Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others (Germany, 2006) follows the odyssey of a staunchly patriotic Stasi agent (a brilliant Ulrich Mühe), the secret police of the GDR (Communist East Germany), and his surveillance of […]

Ian Tracey and Klea Scott star in the Canadian TV series created by Chis Haddock

‘Intelligence: The Complete Series’ on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

Created for Canadian TV by Chis Haddock, Intelligence: Complete Series (2006-2007) is a smarter and more sophisticated crime drama than the American counterparts of its era, cleverer in its tangle of narratives and less showy in its visual style. Set in Vancouver, B.C., a central hub for shipping between Canada, the U.S., Asia, and points […]

‘Killing Eve’ – Spy games on Hulu

Killing Eve: Season 1 (2018), BBC America’s clever, compelling, mordantly funny spy thriller, is the network’s first must-see original series since Orphan Black and is even more fun. Sandra Oh earned an Emmy nomination for her performance as Eve Polastri, a low-level security agent for MI-5 who has traced a series of unsolved assassination to […]

Patrick McGoohan and Leo McKern in the cult TV classic

‘The Prisoner: Complete Series’ on Amazon Prime Video

“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. I am my own man.” There are those who proclaim The Prisoner: Complete Series (1968), Patrick McGoohan’s cerebral spy show and portrait of personal freedom as an existential prison, the greatest TV show of all time. I won’t argue the point. His insidiously […]

Song Kang-ho stars in the South Korean spy thriller by Kim Jee-woon

‘The Age of Shadows’ – Korean spy thriller on Netflix

Kim Jee-woon, director of such hits as hits The Good the Bad the Weird and I Saw the Devil, announced his return to South Korea after his Hollywood tryout with The Age of Shadows (South Korea, 2016, not rated, with subtitles), a sprawling spy thriller set in the underground resistance to the Japanese occupation of […]

John Huston in the film by William Richert

‘Winter Kills’ – The great American conspiracy movie on Amazon Prime

Though technically a work of fiction, Winter Kills (1979, R) is the maddest and most entertaining of Kennedy conspiracy thrillers, a wild kaleidoscope of clashing theories directed with wit and performed with gusto by an astounding cast. Jeff Bridges is the half-brother of an assassinated President who digs up the “truth” 20 years later and […]

David Tennant stars in the British mini-series based on the Alan Furst novel.

‘Spies of Warsaw’ on Netflix

Spies of Warsaw (2013), adapted by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais from the novel by Alan Furst, has an almost old-fashioned clarity to it. It’s set in 1937 Poland, and Germany is quietly amassing troops outside the border. David Tennant continued his post-Doctor Who career redefinition playing French military attaché Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, an […]