I would like to dedicate this list to James Bond. You sir, own every single spot on this week's Fistful; no matter it Connery, Craig, or Lazenby--you are a Dork Hero. Expect someday, A Fistful of Bond...perhaps when Skyfall hits theaters next year. Until, then these are my other favorite secret agents.
5. TIE--Emmet Fitz-Hume & Austin Milbarge (Spies Like Us): John Landis' The Three Amigos seems to get a lot of love these days, but the equally silly (and maybe even more stupid) Spies Like Us is still a ridiculous farty farce that still manages to connect with that stunted 12 year old dropping cherry bombs inside my cinematic soul. Dan Aykroyd & Chevy Chase are a couple of dimwits who stumble into Soviet espionage when the government decides to prop them up as a couple of decoys. Of course, the decoys befuddle their way into various heroic acts and eventually save the day from Dr. Strangelove-like world devastation. This is a kinda Sunday afternoon movie, watch it while eating corned beef from the can.
4. Edward Wilson (The Good Shepherd): I once had a coworker who had done time in the Congo with the CIA. He told me that the one movie that got the Agency right was Robert DeNiro's The Good Shepherd. As he was telling me this all I could think of was that pregnant woman being thrown out of the plane...yikes. The Good Shepherd is a slow burn of a movie, and Matt Damon's Edward Wilson is a sad bastard of a figure. You watch The Bourne Identity for some Spy Vs Spy Bang Bang but when you want to contemplate the psychological horror of spies you watch The Good Shepherd.
3. Scott (Spartan): What gets Val Kilmer's Special Operative Scott on this list is his absolute determination. When the President's daughter is kidnapped Scott won't just sit back and dot the Is and cross the Ts. He'll track the culprits to their sex farm lairs and destroy his superiors who stupidly get in his way. Scott's not your false identity and nifty gadget kinda spy--he's a one shot assassin kinda spy. Brute force. And if you're looking for quick, snappy Mamet dialog--well, it's snappy but not quick. One of his quieter outings and an underrated treat from the '00s.
2. Peter Joshua (Charade): Who the hell is Carey Grant anyway? Peter Joshua? Alexander Dyle? Adam Canfield? Who knows! What is for certain is what a clever dick Grant is with all these spy vs spy shenanigans occurring around poor, confused Audrey Hepburn. The thrill of Charade comes from the circular plot as well as the classy, wink-wink repertoire between Grant and Hepburn. They're just too cool for school.
1. Rachel Stein (Black Book): When I was a kid, one of my favorite spy films was Shining Through starring Melanie Griffith as Michael Douglas' Jewish secretary who turns spy to take down those darn Nazis. Watching that film now, I wince a lot. It's not a terrible movies but it's soft melodrama at best. When I watch the similarly plotted Paul Verhoeven's Black Book--well, the softness goes away for sure. Hard, brutal, viscous World War II melodrama at its best. And Carice van Houten as the transformative Rachel Stein plays all those highs and lows with expert craft. She's sad, sexy, and scary. And she would destroy James Bond.