James Bond, the British Secret Service agent codenamed ‘007’, has been named the best film spy of all time in a poll of film fans, fending off tough competition from the likes of Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt.
The victory comes in the same year as the MI6 operative celebrates his 50th year on the big screen, during which time he has been played by some of Hollywood’s greatest actors – including Sean Connery, Sir Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and most recently, Daniel Craig.
The poll of over 2,500 film fans was conducted by LOVEFiLM – Europe’s largest subscription service instantly streaming films and TV series over the internet and sending DVDs and games by post – to celebrate the release of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy on its streaming service, LOVEFiLM Instant. The list featured some of the silver screen’s most revered secret agents of all time, with Ian Fleming’s martini-swilling spy taking the top spot with 39 per cent of the vote.
In second place and with his sights firmly set on Mr. Bond with 21 per cent comes the Bourne franchise’s Jason Bourne, an amnesiac and CIA-trained assassin most recently played by Matt Damon.
Following closely in third is another British spy, George Smiley (7 per cent) from espionage flick, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. As an intelligence officer working for MI6, Smiley (played by Gary Oldman) is responsible for unraveling the mystery of a Soviet double agent in the upper echelons of the British secret service in the critically acclaimed film.
In fourth place is the flamboyant International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers (6 per cent). With a strong advocacy for free love, a never-changing dress sense and a hairy chest that most men would be proud of, this parody of James Bond played by Mike Myers won the hearts of British film fans when he first hit the screen in 1997.
With 5 per cent of the vote, retired US spy Bryan Mills, whose efforts to rescue his estranged daughter after she is kidnapped in cult action film Taken cemented his status as a fan favourite, takes fifth place in the list.
Sneaking his way into sixth with 5 per cent is Harry Palmer from the 1965 BAFTA award winning film, The Ipcress File. Played by Sir Michael Caine, this spy’s antics edged out the incompetent British intelligence spy, Johnny English (3 per cent) – an agent with all the gear but no idea, who came in seventh place. This spy saved the nation from a bleak future as a giant prison, earning him a knighthood as a result – all in his first on-screen outing.
Tom Cruise’s IMF Agent and lead protagonist from the Mission Impossible series, Ethan Hunt, suspends his way into eighth place with 3 per cent of the vote. In a career which has involved clearing his name of false accusations, rescuing a deadly genetically engineered virus and tracking down a dangerous mystery item known as the ‘Rabbit’s Foot’, Hunt’s latest outing sees him stop a nuclear bomb from exploding.
The best film spies of all time according to LOVEFiLM members are:
1. James Bond (James Bond franchise) – 39%
2. Jason Bourne (Bourne franchise) – 21%
3. George Smiley (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) – 7%
4. Austin Powers (Austin Powers franchise) – 6%
5. Bryan Mills (Taken) – 5%
6. Harry Palmer (The Ipcress File) – 5%
7. Johnny English (Johnny English franchise) – 3%
8. Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible franchise) – 3%
9. Evelyn Salt (Salt) – 2%
10. Jay (Men In Black franchise) – 2%
Other – 7%
Helen Cowley, Editor of LOVEFiLM, commented:
“James Bond has beguiled and blindsided his way into the top spot of the Best Spies poll, putting Bourne and Austin to shame. It’s good to see ‘007’ is still so popular and as ageless as the actors who play him!
“Film fans can catch all the best spies and their exploits on LOVEFiLM’s huge catalogue of films available on DVD, Blu-ray or to stream instantly via LOVEFiLM Instant for as little as £4.99 per month”
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is available on LOVEFiLM Instant from 30th June 2012.