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50 Most Tense Undercover Movie Moments

Point Break (1991)

The Moment: Bodhi aggressively recruits Johnny into a skydiving excursion, with the latter unaware that the former has rumbled his scheme…

Look Away When:
Bodhi reveals that he knows what’s been going on… some several thousand feet up in the air. And there’s only one parachute.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

The Moment: Axel Foley decides to question Maitland about how he employed the recently deceased Mikey Tandino. However, the interrogation doesn’t quite go to plan…

Look Away When:
Maitland sees through Foley’s questions, and has his goons dump him through a window. Worse still, Jenny Summers is now on Maitland’s radar.

The Usual Suspects (1995)

The Moment: Having spent the whole movie undercover as “Verbal Kint”, Keyser Soze strolls out of the police station and into the sunset as poor old Kujan frantically struggles to put the pieces together.

Look Away When:
The sketch artist’s impression comes through on the fax, and Kujan realises what’s just happened.

Starsky And Hutch (2004)

The Moment: Having disguised themselves as mimes, our heroes break cover in order to expose Vince Vaughn’s supposed stash of drugs…

Look Away When: The boys unload their weapons into Vaughn’s barn door… only to reveal a fatally wounded pony. Oh dear.

Salt (2010)

The Moment: Evelyn Salt interrogates a Russian defector, who insists that she is a double-agent embedded in the CIA. At which point, it’s time for Evelyn to leave…

Look Away When: Evelyn realises that her colleagues are probably going to take this seriously, and decides to make her breathtaking escape.

State Of Grace (1990)

The Moment: The meeting at Pier 84, in which Jackie finds himself waiting for what may very well turn out to be an ambush.

Look Away When: Undercover copper Terry recognises that it’s a set-up and desperately attempts to call for backup without being discovered himself.

The Witches (1990)

The Moment: Having stowed away in the meeting hall with a view to exposing the witches’ evil plans, little Luke finds himself disturbing the nasal passages of the Grand High Witch.

Look Away When: Luke’s cover is blown, and he is left at the mercy of a room full of baying horrors.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

The Moment: Ricky Tarr’s story, told in flashback, in which he begins an affair with a Soviet operative’s wife in order to get close to him. The stakes are very high indeed…

Look Away When:
Inevitably, it all goes to shit, and Tarr is forced to watch as his lover is bundled off by kidnappers to face the consequences back in Russia.

Death Warrant (1990)

The Moment: Van Damme is undercover in a prison where the warden is secretly killing inmates and harvesting their organs (yes, really), when a psycho crim he thought he’d killed, suddenly makes an unexpected resurrection.

Look Away When: The Sandman vows to make Van Damme confess… and begins to torture him into doing so.

Blade Runner (1982)

The Moment: Deckard poses as your common or garden sleazebag to infiltrate gentlemen’s establishment Taffey’s Snake Pit, all in order to gun down a fleeing replicant.

Look Away When:
As soon as Deckard draws his gun for the first time… cover blown, but tension cranked right up.

George Wales
George is GR's resident movie news person, based out of London. He understands that all men must die, but he'd rather not think about it.