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American cinema has seen its fair share of war movies, with European and French cinema following suit. From loyalist films to recounting historical events, the sensitive subject of war has become an artistic expression on its own.
War movies are popular among a large chunk of the audience. The reason may be that everyone wants to know what happens behind the big screen or wants to be transported somewhere where we haven’t been. This genre of film is unique and has fans all over.
We’ve dug up some titles that should be on your list. So whether you are a history nerd or want to see the yesteryears played out in full glory, here’s a list of the military movies on Netflix you can enjoy right now!
1. Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Director: Spike Lee
Writer: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott
Cast: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters
IMDB Rating: 6.5/10
A powerful underrated story about the Vietnam war, this movie is unforgettable to watch. Director Spike Lee beings to the life the story of a group of black Vietnam veterans who reunite years after the war to look for the remains of their squad leader.
They also regroup to look for buried treasure they had left behind all those years ago. The film aptly depicts post-war trauma and struggle, with the actors’ equally compelling and raw performance.
2. The King (2019)
Director: David Michod
Writer: David Michod, Joel Edgerton
Cast: Tom Glynn-Carney, Gabor Czap, Tom Fisher
IMDB Rating: 7.3/10
The film is about a historical war, entirely based on William Shakespeare’s ‘Henriad.’ The plot centers on Henry V, the eldest son of King Henry IV of England.
Soon after the king’s death, Henry experiences a whirlwind of emotions and a change of nature. He is thrust into royal politics and has to navigate life through adversaries, all while he’s on his way to seek a claim to the throne.
3. Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writer: John Milius, Francis Ford Coppola, Micheal Herr
Cast: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
Apocalypse Now Redux is an extended version of the 1979 psychological movie classic Apocalypse Now. Directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, the extended version is one not to be missed, whether or not you have seen the original installment.
The plot focuses on a U.S. Army Captain Benjamin L.Willard(Martin Sheen) from South Vietnam to Cambodia on the Nung River. He’s on a mission to extract Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a rebel officer accused of murder who has shown sociopathic tendencies.
It’s no ordinary mission, and what follows is a mind game of cat and mouse, as the two men try to outwit one another in an epic battle.
4. Stripes (1981)
Director: Ivan Reitman
Writer: Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, Harold Ramis
Cast: Bill Murray, John Candy, Harold Ramis
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10
The film follows John Winger (Bill Murray), a cabbie trying to find meaning in his life after he loses his job and his girlfriend dumps him. He and his pal Russell Ziskey(Harold Ramis) decide to join the army.
They are in for a nasty surprise as the rigorous army training takes a toll on them, and they show up with inadequate satisfactory performance.
Winger soon becomes the leader of a group of Army misfits, and little does he know that this band of miscreants could soon cause an international scandal. The action and thrill make it one of the best military movies on Netflix.
5. First They Killed My Father (2017)
Director: Angelina Jolie
Writer: Loung Ung, Angelina Jolie
Cast: Sareum Srey Moch, Phoeung Kompheak, Sven Socheata
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
The plot of the biographical historical thriller focuses on the life of an author originally from Cambodia, named Loung Ung. As a child, she experienced firsthand the horrors brought forth by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the year 1975.
This tenure of terror resulted in the death of millions of Cambodians. In the film, Ung is trained to be a soldier, while the rest of her siblings are dispersed and sent to different camps.
The film is a dive into the disturbing events in Ung and her families’ lives, and though the film is way more dramatized, the struggles shown are nothing less than unbearable.
6. War Machine (2014)
Director: David Michod
Writer: Micheal Hastings, David Michod
Cast: Brad Pitt, Daniel Betts, John Magaro
IMDB Rating: 6.0/10
A satirical, dark war comedy might be a strange addition to the list, but a healthy dose of humor can sometimes be the best way to comprehend things.
Based on a non-fiction book by Micheal Hastings, it follows the journey of a four-star U.S General, Glen MacMahon (Brad Pitt), who is deployed to Afghanistan to end the war.
He can’t request more manpower, but he still goes ahead and recruits 40,000 additional troops, which creates unprecedented mayhem.
7. Green Zone (2010)
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writer: Brain Helgeland, Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Cast: Matt Damon, Jason Isaacs, Greg Kinnear
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10
Another war story based on a non-fictional book, Green Zone, makes for a compelling war thriller. The film is based mainly on the story of Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, and it is set in the backdrop of the Iraq war.
The plot focuses on the U.S. Army’s mission to locate the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction), speculated to be hidden in Iraq.
Matt Damon stars as Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, who leads the mission to locate the said arms. However, the soldiers encounter disturbing information about a more complicated military and political cover-up.
8. Beasts Of No Nation (2015)
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writer: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Cast: Idris Elba, Kurt Egyiawan, Jude Akuwudike, Emmanuel “King King” Nii Adom Quaye, Abraham Attah
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
Award-winning filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga brings this war drama to life. An adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala, the movie follows a young boy named Agu in a small region in West Africa in the middle of a horrifying civil war.
As the war wages, the young boy is forced to join a group of rebels and receive child soldiers’ training to fight in the war.
But instead, Agu and fellow soldiers face a violent and dark journey into utter madness. Idris Elba stars as the charismatic rebel leader, known to his followers as Commandant.
9. The Siege Of Jadotville (2016)
Director: Richie Smyth
Writer: Kevin Brodbin
Cast: Jamie Dornan, Mark Strong, Mikael Persbrandt, Jason O’Mara, Danny Sapani, Michael McElhatton, Guillaume Canet
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
Based on a book called The Siege of Jadotville: The Irish Army’s Forgotten Battle by Declan Power, this action-packed war drama focuses on the Irish Army’s role in a UN peacekeeping mission in Congo.
The film is set in the year 1961 in the small town of Jadotville in Congo, where a small Irish Army unit is stationed to hold off the civil war following the death of the Congolese Prime Minister.
The unit is led bravely by Connor Cruise O’Brien (Mark Strong), who leads from the front in the fight against local mercenaries and Katangese forces for five whole days before the town is sieged.
The film exposes you to the terrors of war and serves as a reminder of a notable historical event.
10. The Guns Of Navarone (1961)
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Writer: Carl Foreman
Cast: Anthony Quinn, David Niven, Anthony Quayle, Stanley Baker, Irene Papas, Gia Scala, James Darren, Gregory Peck
IMDB Rating: 7.5/10
The Guns of Navarone is an adaptation of a 1957 novel by author Alistair MacLean. The plot is set during World War II. The story follows a unit of British Allied Intelligence officers sent to fend off Nazi attacks on the fictional island called ‘Navarone.’ The movie is an epic adventure story and features superb performances by the cast.
11. Shadow (2018)
Director: Zhang Yimou
Writer: Wei Li, Zhang Yimou
Cast: Deng Chao, Sun Li, Zheng Kai, Wang Qianyuan, Hu Jun, Guan Xiaotong, Leo Wu, Wang Jingchun
IMDB Rating: 7.0/10
Legendary Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou brings to life an almost poetic, fantasy-like war story. The 2018 release explores the story of an overzealous general during the Three Kingdoms period in China.
In the middle of all of this is Commander Ziyu (Deng Chao), who is adamant about being victorious over the rival kingdom.
He hatches a devious plan to execute. The film has captivating narration and presentation, iconic of Yimou’s work.
12. Tears Of The Sun (2003)
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Patrick Cirillo, Alex Lasker,
Cast: Bruce Willis,Tom Skerritt, Cole Hauser Monica Bellucci
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
An exemplar war movie, Bruce Willis doesn’t disappoint as the ever-favorite action hero. The plot explores a U.S Navy SEAL team on a rescue mission in Nigeria during a civil war.
Unfortunately, the unrest in the country doesn’t help as the team tries to retrieve a U.S citizen- Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks (Monica Belluci), from a hospital deep within the jungle.
The team is led by Lieutenant A.K. Waters (Willis), and together they must fend off the rebels advancing quickly in the area.
13. The Wolf’s Call (2019)
Director: Antonin Baudry
Writer: Antonin Baudry
Cast: Mathieu Kassovitz, Paula Beer, Jean-Yves Berteloot, Damien Bonnard,François Civil,Omar Sy,Reda Kateb, Alexis Michalik
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10
This French movie called Le Chant du loup is a 2019 entry on the list, and it follows the events surrounding the members on board the French submarine Titane.
In the middle of a rescue mission, the team picks up an unidentified sonar radar. An officer on board, Chanteraide, uses his skills to track down what appears to be a nuclear threat.
However, unknowingly he makes a mistake and puts the crew and the mission at risk. The dark and gritty narrative of the film keeps the audience hooked to the surprising plot. It’s worth a shot.
14. Outlaw King (2018)
Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Bathsheba Doran, David Mackenzie, James MacInnes
Cast: Chris Pine, Stephen Dillane, Rebecca Robin
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10
The film follows the struggles of the crowned king of Scotland, who is forced into exile by the English. He gathers together a group of fellow outlaws to help him reclaim the throne he rightly deserves.
The film stars Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce, and it was well-received by critics and fans alike.15.
15. Five Came Back (2017)
Director: Laurent Bouzereau
Writer: Mark Harris
Cast: Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Meryl Streep
IMDB Rating: 8.3/10
Narrated by Meryl Streep, the movie follows the story of five legendary Hollywood filmmakers who joined the army to document World War II.
Directed by Laurent Bouzereau, their wartime contributions are highlighted and brought forth, expanding our understanding of the Second World War and its unimaginable cost.
16. IP Man (2008)
Director: Wilson Yip
Writer: Edmond Wong, Tai-lee Chan
Cast: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Siu-Wong Fan
IMDB Rating: 8.0/10
The Hong Kong biographical martial arts film is based on the life of the IP Man, who was the grandmaster of the martial art Wing Chun and teacher of Bruce Lee.
The film is based in Foshan (a city famous for martial arts), where a practitioner of Wing Chung tries to face the 1937 Japanese invasion as peacefully as possible, but he’s forced to do otherwise.
The semi-historical film features limb-breaking action, which serves to be the perfect martial arts fan bait making it one of the best military movies on Netflix.
17. Cold Mountain (2003)
Director: Anthony Minghella
Writer: Anthony Minghella, Charles Frazier,
Cast: Jude Law, Renee Zellweger, Nicole Kidman,
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
The classic war-torn love story is set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, where a wounded soldier named W.P Inman(Jude Law) deserts his unit and attempts to reunite with his young wife, Ada (Nicole Kidman), the latter is left behind at their farm.
A kind neighbor introduces Ada to Ruby (Renee Zellweger), a mysterious woman who helps Ada keep her home intact while waiting for her husband to return.
Director Anthony Minghella adapted the Charles Frazier novel with a finesse that translates well into the screen, making it one of the best military movies on Netflix.
18. Defiance (2008)
Director: Edward Zwick
Writer: Clayton Frohman, Edward Zwick, Nechama Tec
Cast: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
This film is an adaptation of the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec, which follows the heroic story of three Polish Jewish brothers who saved Jews in Belarus during World War II.
The events take place in Nazi-occupied Poland in the year 1941. The Bielski family is faced with unimaginable trauma when the parents are killed, leaving behind four brothers to survive and flee to the nearest forest.
In the dark jungle all by themselves, the brothers vow to avenge their parent’s death. The brothers team up with other survivors, and together, they form a rebellion group with one goal in mind: to wipe out the Nazis.
19. Operation Finale (2018)
Director: Chris Weitz
Writer: Matthew Orton
Cast: Haley Lu Richardson, Nick Kroll, Lior Raz, Mélanie Laurent, Ben Kingsley, Oscar Isaac
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
This film depicts the events that followed after World War II. The plot revolves around the Operational Finale by the Mossad, an attempt to capture a former SS officer Adolf Eichmann.
WWII has ended, and we’re catapulted 15 years into the future. Mossad agents spot their guy in Argentina and devise a plan to trap him to bring him to trial.
Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned, and the plan almost falls through. The film is essentially a spy-thriller set in the ’60s that keeps you at the edge of your seats, making it one of the best military movies on Netflix.
20. The 12th Man (2017)
Director: Harald Zwart
Writer: Petter Skavlan
Cast: Maria Grazia Di Meo,Thomas Gullestad, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen,Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
IMDB Rating: 7.4/10
This war thriller is adapted from a book by authors Tore Haug and Astrid Karlsen Scott. The film is an actual account of historical events in Norway in the year 1943.
The plot explores the story of Norwegian resistance fighter Jan Baalsrud (Thomas Gullestad) and his epic escape from Nazi-occupied Norway. The gripping story pulls us into one of the darkest and bleakest times.
21. Sand Castle (2017)
Director: Fernando Coimbra
Writer: Chris Roessner
Cast: Tommy Flanagan, Logan Marshall-Green, Nicholas Hoult, Henry Cavill, Beau Knapp, Neil Brown Jr, Glen Powell
IMDB Rating: 6.3/10
The story is derived from the intimate experiences of the writer, Chris Roessner. A young soldier in the U.S Army is deployed to Baghdad during the Iraq War.
Private Matt Ocre (Nicholas Hoult) is assigned to reviving the water supply of a small village, but the mission is far from simple. The following events are equally frightening and emotionally moving, making it one of the best military movies on Netflix.
22. Sarajevo (2014)
Director: Andreas Prochaska
Writer: Kurt Mündl, Martin Ambrosch
Cast: Michaela Ehrenstein, Reinhard Forcher, Eugen Knecht,Florian Teichtmeister
IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
A fascinating account of the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, this film is set in the year 1914. Dr. Leo Pfeffer investigates the deaths while he is drawn deeper into the web of corruption as he attempts to determine if the Serbian government is behind the killings.
The film sheds light on the events that essentially sparked the First World War and led to chaos around the globe. The German-Austrian biographical television film is a fascinating account of historical events and lets you look into the dynamics of one of the most significant life-altering events for the world.
23. The Photographer of Mauthausen (2018)
Director: Mar Targarona
Writer: Alfred Pérez Fargas,Roger Danès
Cast: Mac Rodriguez, Alain Hernandez, Mario Casas, Macarena Gomez
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10
This Spanish historical biography brings to light the story of a Spanish photographer and civil war veteran called Francisco Boix during his tenure at the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria.
The photographer is a prisoner at the Nazi concentration camp. He tries his best to hold onto any photographic evidence to capture the atrocities within the camp.
The photographer records all the misgivings within the camp while his fellow prisoners jeopardize their lives to conceal the negatives from the officers.
24. The Men Who Stare at Goats(2009)
Director: Grant Heslov
Writer: Peter Straughan
Cast: Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Ewan McGregor
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
This film explores the dark side of politicians and bureaucrats and the lengths they could go to win a war. It’s based on a non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Ronson.
The story follows an Ann Arbor reporter called Bob Wilton (Ewan Mcgregor), who goes to Kuwait to report on the war after his marriage falls apart.
A chance encounter with a U.S Army Special Forces operator leads him to believe that he’s struck gold with this story.
Lyn Cassady (George Clooney) claims to be once a part of a unit that trained people to become psychic spies. The film is intriguing, giving us another perspective on war movies, making it one of the best military movies on Netflix.
25. War Dogs (2016)
Director: Todd Phillips
Writer: Stephen Chin, Todd Phillips, Jason Smilovic
Cast: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Armas, Bradley Cooper
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
War Dogs is a dark war comedy that will ease off some of the intensity of the other movies on our list. The film follows two young American lads and their journey to becoming notorious arms dealers.
Efraim Diveroli(Jonah Hill) and David Packouz(Miles Teller) were drawn into selling arms to the U.S government during the Iraq War.
The duo manages to convince the army and secure a contract of 300 million dollars to supply ammunition to the Afghan National Army.
The film is based on actual events, but it is a highly dramatized and satirical display of the arms trade and subsequent warfare making it one of the best military movies on Netflix.
Though you can watch anything and everything on Netflix, including comedy, thriller, horror shows, Halloween movies, suspense, horror movies, classic, cartoon, action, romance, cooking shows, sci-fi, reality, kid movies, emotional drama, Marvel shows, and documentaries – it is time to enjoy the best military movies on Netflix.
The plethora of war movies available on Netflix can be a hassle to browse through. However, we are sure that our carefully curated list will allow you to select something palatable for you.