by ASH

We all love a good secret agent story, that’s why spies like James Bond and Ethan Hunt keeps coming back on the big screen. The masks, the double-crossing, the suave attire, it’s easy to be drawn in to them. But as it turns out, apart from adept undercover agents, we are also fans of spies who are not so good at their craft. Their bumbling habits, their sheer dumb luck, and their endearing ways, we do enjoy their ineptness. And here are 4 spies we love who are really bad at what they do.

Johnny English in the Johnny English series

Rowan Atkinson plays the titular character in Johnny English, an incompetent MI7 secret agent with lofty dreams for being her Majesty’s top spy. A parody of James Bond’s films, English first appeared in the big screen in 2003, where, through a series of mishaps (partly caused by him), became the only agent who survived. He must complete the mission top spy Agent One was handling- thwarting a plot to steal the crown jewels. In the second instalment in 2011, English is assigned to uncover the mastermind behind the plot to assassinate the Chinese Premier during scheduled talks with the Prime Minister (Emma Thompson). Once again, the clumsy, simple-minded English finds himself entangled in a web of clumsiness and mishaps.

Johnny English Strikes Again

In the latest movie, Johnny English Strikes Again, our bumbling agent is back. This time, he is called into action when all the British undercover operatives are exposed in a cyber-attack. Forced out of his retirement, English is tasked to find the mastermind hacker. Together with his old sidekick Bough (Ben Miller), the pair journeys to the south of France for their investigation. Following a succession of mistakes, lucky breaks and a crush, English manages to, like the first two movies, salvage the situation.

Why we love him: The fact that English has no idea truly how terrible he is at his job, and always maintains optimistic about his abilities.

Maxwell Smart in Get Smart

Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) has the smarts, just not the acumen to be a good spy. The movie is based on the Get Smart series co-created by Mel Brooks, the spy movie satirizes the secret agent genre that became increasingly popular in the 1960s. Smart works for a Government spy agency called CONTROL as an analyst with dreams of being a full-fledged agent. When the agency’s head office was attacked, he was sent out on the field to investigate with sexy Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). The duo, handicapped by Maxwell’s blundering antics, keeps running into issues that Agent 99 has to get them out of.

Why we love him: Carell plays Smart as an endearing, unlikely spy that makes you root for him.

Austin Powers in the Austin Powers series

Groovy Baby!

This is probably the first bungling movie spy that has us hooked onto, well, spies who don’t seem to be able to perform their jobs.

Parodying spy films and pop-culture elements, the Austin Powers films, which started in 1997, is the first of its kind. There are plenty of outrageous plots, sexual innuendo, cliché dialogue and two-dimensional characters. They wouldn’t have worked on paper, but somehow come together on the big screen. Mike Myers, who plays Austin Powers, dreamt up the movie one night when driving home from an ice hockey practice. His character is a pompous, unapologetic British spy from Swinging 60s London who was placed in cryotasis and got woken up in the 1990s to face his nemesis, Dr Evil. Still with the 60s mindset, and fashion sense, Powers finds himself glaringly out of place but manages to do his job while in loud colourful clothes, 60s lingo and all.

Why we love him: What’s not to like? His over-confidence, the clichés and pop-culture references are all refreshing. In the hands of another actor, Austin Powers may have fallen flat, but thanks to Myers, Austin Powers became an icon instead.

Molly in So Undercover 

So Undercover

Enough of middle-age spies. Here’s a spy on the opposite side of the spectrum, a teenage undercover agent. Molly (Miley Cyrus) works as a private investigator who takes photos of cheating men. She is approached by an FBI agent to work undercover in a college. Her assignment was to watch over the daughter of a senator. Molly gets to work, but falls on the wrong tracks, and eyes the wrong suspects. In the end, she manages to redeem herself.

Why we love her: It’s always good to root for a rookie! Cyrus injects an exuberant vibe to Molly, a confident young woman who’s not afraid to try new things.