Considering these and other works in the genre you know of, what themes, patterns and commonalities do you see? What defines a secret agent, or a secret agent story?
Spy movies these days are a dime a dozen. A good spy movie however, is a little more difficult to pull off. Think about how many movies involve secrets, espionage, adrenaline pumping action, and evil Russians. Quite a few right? Now how many of those movies were good, and even rarer, were great. Why the Bourne series was not included on the list of movies to watch, yet Spy Kids was, amazes me.. It crosses off every requirement I listed and then some. The Hunt for Red October was OK though, but the book was better.
For the TV shows I watched Burn Notice. A show about a “burned” CIA spy that landed in Miami and is stuck there doing whatever job comes his way. Throughout the series we see him shoot some baddies, do some neat tricks, steal a few cars, and make some friends (and enemies) along the way. The Hunt for Red October is similar in that the main characters, Jack Ryan, and Burn Notice’s Michael Westen both work(ed) for the CIA and have a certain set of skills to kill people. The normal and expected similarities still apply such as keeping secrets, evil Russians, intense fight scenes, and internal politics and bureaucracy.
What makes a great secret agent? Probably the agent that stays alive longest and isn’t caught. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and both sides are looking to snag an enemy spy. Westen is always finding more people out there that want to kill him and in many episodes he actually gets injured and shot. Jack Ryan is much the same way. Tom Clancy wrote a whole series on his life and one of my favorite novels of his is Patriot Games where you guessed it, he gets shot at by the IRA in London. Trouble seems to find both of them even if the want to settle down. I guess it’s just a perk of the job.