5 movies like 'Argylle' but better

Dua Lipa with Henry Cavill in Argylle
(Image credit: Alamy)

Not all spy content has to be constant action and guns blazing. The new Prime Video series “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” received that memo.

Hollywood needs more women-led spy and action movies, but they do exist — mostly within the past decade. Bryce Dallas Howard’s new spy movie “Argylle” packs quite a lot of action and more than a few twists in its 2.5-hour run time, but it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea (even though the movie served tea more than a few times). It's got a dismal 33% Rotten Tomatoes score. Many moviegoers found it was a little too campy and self-aware, which ... fair.

So, if you weren’t a fan of “Argylle,” but you’re desperate for more leading lady action, there are certainly other options that you don’t even have to leave your house to watch. Here are five less campy female spy action movies like "Argylle" you can stream online right now.

'Black Widow'

Fans had been clamoring for a Black Widow-led movie ever since Natasha Romanoff came onto the MCU scene in “Iron Man 2.” Scarlett Johansson breathed life into the spy and assassin-turned-Avenger — perfectly capturing the layers of her trauma, fearlessness, and loyalty. After Natasha’s untimely death, it didn’t seem like a solo movie was possible despite the previous announcement. Of course, that was before we knew that “Black Widow” was a prequel set after the events of “Civil War.”

“Black Widow” isn’t the movie to watch if you’re looking for some lighthearted shenanigans. The film toggles back and forth between the past and the present, showing fans the brutality of her upbringing and the brainwashing that took place when she was forced to be a Russian spy. 

Alongside Johansson is Florence Pugh as her pseudo-sister Yelena. They’re joined by David Harbour (Alexei), Rachel Weisz (Melina), and Ray Winstone (Dreykov). Cate Shortland directed the movie written by Eric Pearson, Jac Schaeffer, and Ned Benson.

Watch on Disney Plus

'Atomic Blonde'

Everyone loves a good period movie — and Cold War-set films are some of the most popular spy movies out there. It makes sense, given how panicked everyone was about Russian spies during this period of time. “Atomic Blonde” centers on Charlize Theron’s Lorraine Broughton, a British M16 agent stationed in Berlin after the murder of another agent. Her mission is two-fold: find her coworker’s killer and track down a list of double agents that the fallen agent died for.

The action-thriller was adapted by screenwriter Kurt Johnstead from the graphic novel “The Coldest City.” “Atomic Blonde” was directed by David Leitch. The star-studded cast includes names like James McAvoy (David Percival), John Goodman (Emmett Kurzfeld), and Bill Skarsgārd (Merkel). With a captivating lead and impressive action, “Atomic Blonde” is a go-to spy staple. 

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple


Melissa McCarthy's 2015 movie “Spy” has more “Argylle” energy with comedic elements taking center stage, yet the Paul Feig-written and directed film avoids getting too ridiculous.

Susan (McCarthy) isn’t exactly a pro in fieldwork in her CIA analyst job, opting for a desk rather than a gun — usually. Naturally, she has to leave the comfort of her desk job behind to go undercover to catch a dangerous arms dealer and seek revenge on the guy who killed her partner. The cast also includes Rose Byrne (Rayna Boyanove), Jude Law (Bradley Fine), and Jason Statham (Rick Ford).

Watch on Max

'Zero Dark Thirty'

“Zero Dark Thirty” wasted no time depicting the end of the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda terrorist responsible for 9/11 — the Kathryn Bigelow-directed film was released in 2012, just one year after the monumental moment in history. While the film is based on true events, Jessica Chastain’s CIA analyst character Maya is fictional and the events are dramatized for the screen. Though the movie is incredibly dark, the realistic and gritty depictions don’t shy away from the brutality of the war and those we lost along the way. While Chastain leads the charge, the movie also stars actors like Joel Edgerton (Patrick), Chris Pratt (Justin), Mark Strong (George), and Jason Clarke (Dan). 

Watch on Hulu

'Red Sparrow'

Most people don’t think “ballerina” when someone mentions spies, but “Red Sparrow” puts a spin on the usual suspects. Jennifer Lawrence leads the 2018 movie, where she plays Dominika Egorova, a famous ballerina who gets recruited by her uncle into the SVR (the foreign intelligence of the Russian Federation). Most nepotism doesn’t include covert ops, and yet … Dominika only takes on a grisly assignment to pay for her mom’s medical care. Super cool of her uncle to not just foot the bill.

From here, it gets dark — really dark. Dominika eventually gets forced into becoming an SVR operative by her charming uncle, who assigns her to the “Sparrow” program: a nicer term for agents forced to partake in dangerous “sexpionage.” 

Lawrence is joined by Joel Edgerton (Nate Nash), Matthias Schoenaerts (Vanya Egorov), Charlotte Rampling (Matron), and Mary-Louise Parker (Stephanie Boucher). Francis Lawrence directed the movie that was adapted by Justin Haythe from Jason Matthews’ book by the same name. 

Watch on Hulu

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Xandra Harbet

Xandra is an entertainment journalist with clips in outlets like Salon, Insider, The Daily Dot, and Regal. In her 6+ years of writing, she's covered red carpets, premieres, and events like New York Comic Con. Xandra has conducted around 200 interviews with celebrities like Henry Cavill, Sylvester Stallone, and Adam Driver. She received her B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Randolph College, where she chilled with the campus ghosts and read Edgar Allan Poe at 3 am.