Mathieu Kassovitz stars in the French TV espionage drama

‘The Bureau’ – the great French espionage drama on Sundance Now

French film star Mathieu Kassovitz takes the lead in The Bureau, a French drama set in a clandestine branch of the French Secret Service that handles deep cover agents in the Middle East and Africa. He is the bureau’s star agent back from a six-year assignment in Damascus to become the right hand of the […]

‘A Most Wanted Man’ on Amazon Prime Video

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. […]

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

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 […]

‘Haywire’ – bad-ass action on Netflix

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 […]

Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in 'American Ultra.' Photo credit: Lionsgate

‘American Ultra’ – stoners and spies on Amazon Prime and Hulu

American Ultra (2015) reworks The Bourne Identity as a slacker comedy with a killer punchline. Jesse Eisenberg is Mike Howell, a sweet, underachieving stoner prone to panic attacks. He gets by as convenience store clerk in a dead-end West Virginia town with a supportive girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), who is almost impossibly understanding when it […]

‘Das Boot’ – The 2019 series on Hulu

Das Boot (Germany/France, 2019) shares the same title as Wolfgang Petersen’s 1981 film (and is technically a sequel), but familiarity with the original is unnecessary to start the series. Also based on the novel Das Boot by Lothar-Günther Buchheim as well its sequel Die Festung, the 2019 series is set in late 1942, nine months after the film’s finale, […]

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 […]