When movies are focused on intelligence or cover operations, they are always 100% accurate. Yeah right! While they might not be 100% or even 80% accurate, they are still fun, especially if you hold a security clearance. It’s fun when you hear actors use terms like “that’s eyes only” or “that is SCI material, highly classified.” While it’s not clear if production studios do their homework or even research the terminology, it’s worth a laugh.

My Top Five Security Clearance Movies

That being said, here are what I consider to be the top 5 movies that feature security clearances, if your favorite is not on the list, please comment and share below.

Mission: Impossible Series

All of them, yes, all of them. I absolutely love these movies and except for the second outing, they have been all riveting and fun. Tom Cruise is my favorite actor and his portrayal of Ethan Hunt, a U.S. covert operative working for the fictional Impossible Mission Force (IMF), is just plain awesome. The scenes in which the IMF battles it out with the CIA is super entertaining. From lifelike masks and voice changers, to self destructing top secret messages, these movies are full of situations where a clearance is needed. I often wonder how Ethan Hunt’s polygraph went… just saying.

Bridge of Spies

Yes, Mission Impossible is fun, but it is completely fictional. Bridge of Spies on the other hand is a true story. The film is set during the height of the cold war and tells the story of lawyer James B. Donovan, portrayed by Tom Hanks. After Francis Gary Powers, and American pilot, is shot down over Russia, Donovan is put in charge of negotiating Powers’ release. In order to get Powers released, Donovan represents a Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel, who is captured in the U.S. and put on trial for espionage. The film’s titles draws its name from the Glienicke Bridge, connecting Potsdam and Berlin and sets the stage for the film’s climax. Very accurate cold war spy stuff here and lots of clearance references.

The Hunt for Red October

Geez, it’s so hard to pick just one Tom Clancy film, so yeah, the next three films are Clancy novel adaptations. For me, the portrayal of Marko Ramius by Sean Connery is amazing! I mean, if you can get past a Scottish man portraying a Russian Naval Admiral (it’s Sean Connery, who cares!). The admiral wants to defect to the U.S. with the latest Soviet Nuclear submarine, or does he? CIA Analyst Jack Ryan, portrayed by a young Alec Baldwin is on board to prove he does, or stop him if he doesn’t…. Riveting!

Clear & Present Danger

Clear & Present Danger for me is one of the best, if not the best CIA movies out there. Much like Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones, he’s also Jack Ryan. No one else can portray Ryan like Ford does. Ryan, a CIA analyst, has been appointed the CIA Acting Deputy Director of Intelligence (DDI) and stumbles on a plot being kept from him regarding a war against a Columbian drug cartel. Ryan sets out to uncover the covert plot only to find out, the President of the United States has blessed it.

Patriot Games

Patriot Games is another Jack Ryan story and is again portrayed by Harrison Ford. This movie is absolutely riveting and gives you an idea of the breadth of what the CIA does… here’s a hint, it’s a lot! The plot of this movie revolves around Jack Ryan’s witnessing of an attempted assassination on the Minister of State for Northern Ireland. This movie is a sequel to The Hunt for Red October and is Ford’s first portrayal of Ryan. Ryan is able to kill two of the assassins and comes to find out the group of assassins is from a splinter cell of the Irish Republican Army. Ryan’s testimony against one of the terrorists ends up putting them in prison, and the terrorist swears revenge against Ryan and his family… riveting, edge of your seat psychologically thrilling action ensues.

What is Your Favorite Security Clearance Movie?

Do you hold a clearance? What are your thoughts on movies that reflect the cleared life? Let me know what your favorites are, if I haven’t seen them I need to, so please share! This is your mission, should you choose to accept….

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Greg Stuart is the owner and editor of vDestination.com. He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He has 20 years of IT experience and currently works as an IT Consultant both in the private and public sector. Greg holds a BS in Information Technology and an MBA degree. He currently resides in Southeast Idaho. You can follow him on Twitter @vDestination, read his blog (vDestination.com) and listen to his podcast (vDestination.com/feed/podcast).