Five Best Fictional CIA Agents
In contrast to the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency works in the shadows. They are the behind-the-scenes agents who do not operate as publicly as the FBI. When films discuss legitimate spies, it is usually concerning agents in the CIA. It is in this agency that secret terrorist plots, espionage, and world-ending scenarios take place. Usually, these agents are spooky, dangerous, and incredibly clever. Her are the top five all-time best CIA agents on film.
Jack Ryan in the Jack Ryan Franchise
The character if Jack Ryan is one of the greatest CIA agents ever. Classically, he is a simple analyst thrust into serious situations where he never knew he could excel at. He has been played by Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger), Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears), Chris Pine (Shadow Recruit), and most recently, John Krasinski (Amazon series). However, Jack Ryan was never cinematically better than when portrayed by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October. Sean Connery’s Ramius has hijacked his own advanced nuclear submarine and is heading toward America. The CIA suspects he is rogue and off to attack the US. Jack Ryan convinces him that he may be defecting. It is a brave assertion so the CIA sends him into the field to find out. What follows is one of the greatest submarine thrillers of all time. This is the best Jack Ryan film, though the entire filmography is solid.
Frank Moses in RED (2010)
Retired, Extremely Dangerous. That is the designation of former CIA black-ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis). The premise of 2010’s RED was delightful. Director Robert Schwentke populated his spy thriller with screen legends such as Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, and Brian Cox. However, this movie is classic Bruce Willis. Frank Moses’s proficiency is shown quite early when an assassination squad tries to break into his house and kill him. Few actors in Hollywood can make us believe that they can fight off a hit squad the way Willis does. Honorable mentions to nearly every other agent in the film (even Karl Urban’s Cooper). However, Frank Moses is the highlight in an all-around fun action thriller.
Joseph Turner in Three Days of the Condor (1975)
In Three Days of the Condor, Robert Redford plays Joseph Turner. He is a CIA analyst who, with his team, scour books, newspapers, and magazines from around the world. Turner finds a few anomalies in a spy novel and reports it to the upper echelon. After Turner goes out for lunch, he returns to find his entire division slaughtered. What follows is another wonderful cat & mouse game. He may be a simple CIA analyst, but Turner is quite brilliant and capable. Obviously, some powerful people really want him silenced, but he is having none of it. Also, he is Robert Redford, so of course he has the ability to romance Faye Dunaway, whom he has kidnapped. Smart, suave, and dangerous; Joseph Turner is the quintessential spy.
Bryan Mills in Taken (2008)
Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills is an ex-CIA field agent who must have been amazing when he was active. In the runaway 2008 hit Taken, Bryan Mills’s daughter Kim is kidnapped in Paris soon after arriving for a tour across Europe. When Kim knows something is wrong, she calls her father. Bryan gets small bits of information from this phone call, and it is all he needs to get to Europe and track down his daughter. It is a simple premise executed to the highest order. The action is superb but the badassery of Liam Neeson is undeniable. Neeson has always been a respected actor throughout his prolific career. However, his role as Bryan Mills solidified him as a bona fide action star. Not only that, but Taken shows us once again that the CIA really does train some dangerous characters.
Jason Bourne in the Bourne Franchise
The way that Jack Ryan may be in over his head throughout his franchise, Jason Bourne is the polar opposite. In 2002, Director Doug Liman brought Robert Ludlum’s famous black ops spy to life in The Bourne Identity. In doing so, he made a legitimate action star of Matt Damon. Most of the critical acclaim falls upon the second and third entries in the series, but the original film really painted an amazing picture of Jason Bourne. He is a man who was trained by the CIA in the blackest of black-ops in a program called Treadstone. So well trained in fact that all the assassins the CIA send to take him out all wind up dead. Never before were we given any idea that Matt Damon could kick this much ass. Jason Bourne is such a formidable agent, that he spawned a franchise five films deep thus far.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.