The dawning realization that the movie we’re watching is irredeemably bad is always so incredibly disappointing. Here we are, with our popcorn and oversized fountain beverage at hand, ready to strap in and escape the daily grind, when instead we’re sneaking peeks at our watches, praying for the sweet release of the end credits. Note to self: Always read the reviews.
The concept of espionage – gathering secret or confidential information for the benefit of a government or organization – is inherently dramatic. Following spies around while they do their thing has formed the foundation of some of the very best movies ever made. (These are the 30 best spy films of all time.)
Not all spy films are good, however. A spy movie can go off the rails for a whole host of reasons. If it’s a comedy, it might simply be unfunny. If it’s for kids, anyone over the age of 10 might find it dumb. If it’s an action film, it might be overburdened with badly-edited chase sequences and unburdened by any coherent plot. And if it’s just trying to be a smart spy thriller, it can easily fall into the trap of being formulaic, generic, and forgettable. (This is every James Bond movie ranked from best to worst.)
To determine the worst spy films of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of February 2022, weighting all ratings equally. We considered only movies with at least 25,000 audience votes on either IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes. Only films that center on a spy or clandestine intelligence officer protagonist or deal with the theme of espionage were included. Data on cast is from IMDb.
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