If you’ve seen any thrillers lately you’ll know that on-screen espionage is an ever-shifting world full of betrayal, danger and a bit more betrayal. Nothing is what it seems. The good guy? He’s actually the bad guy. That toaster? A weapon. That bloke with the beard? Angelina Jolie. But do not fear: this handy guide will steer you through the murky spy business that is Safe House, Salt, The Recruit, Bourne and all the other espionage thrillers currently infiltrating your DVD collection. Treadstone would call it an ‘Optimised Terminology Grid’. We call it ‘spy bingo’.
A person is refered to as "an asset"
Said asset goes "rogue"
Asset goes rogue and also "off the grid"
Asset goes rogue and off both "the grid" and "the reservation"
Rogue asset appears in international airport / US consulate / other eye-poppingly conspicuous locale
Asset is off the reservation but "pops up" on the grid
Emergency spy box contains 27 fake passports
Footchase occurs around African city
Asset is "turned"
Organisation is known as "the Agency", whether CIA or not
Agency assigns a "priority level" of 3 or above
Rival spy is particularly shit-scary because "he's ex-Mossad"
Woman in suit points to massive screen with map on it
Image on massive screen is "enhanced"
"Enhancement" technology reveals previously invisible details
Obvious disguise uses baseball cap and different jacket
Someone asks for the time "on the ground"
Extravagant use of 24 hour clock
CIA wonk turns up with back-up despite being told to "come alone"
Reference to "going mobile". Eg. "he's on a bus / train / plane etc."
Files download very slowly
Stuff is "compromised"
Car chase in ginormous 4x4
Car chase in taxi / slightly crap car
Hero jumps off a bridge
Hero throws away mobile phone
Hero throws away mobile phone while jumping off bridge
Agency suit says: "Okay, listen up people!"
Agency suit needs to know "what he's dealing with"
Agency honcho demands that information "yesterday"
Bad guy notes that "We're not so different, you and I"
Tech boffin pinpoints location of mobile phone in under 10 seconds
Hero is briefly waterboarded / otherwise tortured
Reference to "the playbook"
Agency honcho demands surveillance "package"
Agency wonk says: "It's already been done!" when it hasn't