The spy film is one of the most popular genres there is, and the likes of Bond and Bourne are among the most established characters in cinematic history. But given that the life of a spy is all about being undercover and unnoticeable, you think they’d stop reusing the same old recognisable tropes time and time again.
So grab the laser pen and straighten that tie. With Kingsman: The Secret Service now out at cinemas, we take a look at nine of the most overused cliches in the spy movie genre.
1. Ridiculous gear
X-Ray sunglasses, buzzsaw yo-yo’s, invisible cars and chameleon suits. Is there any inanimate object that can’t be turned into some kind of high-tech gadget? What’s next? A telephone with a camera attached?
2. Disfigured foreign villain
In the same way that all spy protagonists need to be ultra-suave, it is also within the job description that all evil-doers be foreign and disfigured in some way – preferably facially. Just think about Raoul Silva’s botched suicide attempt, Blofeld’s facial scarring and Le Chiffre’s bleeding eyes.
3. Elaborate methods of death
They may want to destroy the world, but boy do the villains love a bit of showmanship. One of the many responsibilities of being evil is to continually invent wacky and ridiculous ways to off their enemies. From shark invested pools and razor-bladed hats to metal teeth and balloon inflation. More often than not though a villain, will fall foul of their own dark inventions.
4. All cars go super-fast
Spies are known for driving the fastest, most luxurious car around, but it’s all for show really. It doesn’t matter what you drive because, in a spy film, all vehicles will travel at the same speed. If the hostage-taker is escaping in a brand new Merc, never fear: simply hop in the nearest Transit van and you’ll definitely be able to keep pace. Likewise, the spy will inevitably be matched in his own daring escape by some guys on restricted mo-peds.
5. Ultra suave
It seems to be an integral part of the job description that all spies be the ultra-suave, manliest of men. They must always wear fitted tuxedos or attire that’ll showcase their rippling six-pack, regardless of the weather conditions or culture because hey, they’re spies and they don’t want to draw attention to themselves.
6. The Girl
Being a suave, sophisticated male spy, it is inevitable that you would come into contact with smart, sophisticated women. Whether they be sidekicks or malevolent temptresses, there will most definitely be bedroom adventures. The “Bond Girl” has become a cultural icon in itself.
7. Silent henchmen
The big-bad’s trusted lieutenant and personal bodyguard is always a hulk of a bloke who seems to have lost the ability to talk. Growling and staring angrily from their masters side, they will always be the physical superior of our heroic secret agent and their battles are only won by heroic brains over brawn.
8. Explanatory monologue
You know the scene. Our hero is captured and tied to a chair faced with certain death at the hands of the villain. Rather than just offing our hero though, the bad guy always endeavors to reel off a long-winded monologue explaining their motives and a offering a brief summary of their life up until that current moment. “No. I expect you to listen to me explain this film Mr. Bond.”
9. The Insider
The inside man. The double agent. The double-crosser. Whatever you want to call this guy, they are always the same. Typically a former buddy or mentor to our spy hero, this cowardly fella will sell him/herself out and join the bad guy because the plot needs to progress a bit.
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