Perhaps watching the new Netflix festive war release Operation Christmas Drop has put you in the mood for some grittier fare, or you have already got through our list of the best action movies on Netflix and you need some more daring stunts and explosions to enjoy on your home big screen.
Either way, an excellent next stop should be the best war movies on Netflix, which match epic action with historic learning, and questions of what motivates mankind and why it is sometimes difficult to do what is right.
Interested? Get started with these ten great war movies currently streaming on Netflix.
Beasts of No Nation (2015)
This harrowing drama tells the story of a young boy who becomes a child soldier in an unspecified West African country.
Writer/director Cary Fukunaga offers a sobering and compromising view of the grim life of many young people in Africa, yet manages to imbue it with a level of hope that makes it engaging. It has an amazing cast including young new talents such as Abraham Attah playing the lead, and powerhouse stars like Idris Elba.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)
This unmissable drama looks at the horrors of a Nazi extermination camp through the eyes of two eight-year-old boys: one is the camp commander’s son, the other is a Jewish inmate.
Not a traditional war film, it focuses on how one family came to terms with what was happening; but the family angle does not mean that it pulls any of its brutal punches. It has been criticized as creating a false equivalence between victims and perpetrators, but it certainly offers food for thought.
Darkest Hour (2017)
Gary Oldman turns in a stellar performance as Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, during the May 1940 War Cabinet crisis.
At this time Britain was still arguing about whether or not they should make peace with Germany. Churchill sternly refused, saying that Hitler could not be trusted. It is a film about political machinations and winning around popular opinion to the side of fighting.
Daniel Craig and Liev Schrieber star in this World War II film and looks at the Nazi occupation of Belarus.
It follows a group of rebels known as the Bielski partisans. They were a group of Belarusian Jews led and recruited by a group of Polish Jewish brothers. The film deals with big themes of resistance and helping your fellow man, but is also heavy on the grizzly action sequences.
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
One of the most iconic war movies of all time, Lee Marvin leads a stunning ensemble cast that also includes Charles Bronson and Donald Sutherland.
A British military general is recruited to work on a top-secret mission that involves training some of the U.S.’s worst criminals to be commandos. The idea is to send them on a suicide mission just before D-Day. This is an action flick with curious characters, and also tells the story of not always judging people by what society says they have done.
This is probably the most celebrated war film of the last few years. The Christopher Nolan picture shows the evacuation of Dunkirk during WWII from three different perspectives: land, sea, and air.
The movie has an impressive ensemble cast, with most male British talent of about the right age making an appearance including Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Fionn Whitehead, and even Harry Styles.
First They Killed My Father (2017)
Directed by Angelina Jolie, this is a Khmer language biographical and historical thriller set during the Cambodian crisis.
We meet a five-year-old named Ung, who is forced to be a child soldier while her siblings are sent to labor camps by the Khmer Rouge regime. Based on the memoir written by Ung herself, which the movie manages to convey without excessive “Americanisation”.
British actors Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike star in this American Civil War flick about a US army officer who must escort a Cheyenne war chief, played by Wes Studi, to a town in Montana.
There is a lot of action as Bale’s character must protect his hostage from both warring native tribes and violent western settlers. The movie is often described as revisionist, as it delves into the poisonous effect of decades of colonial warfare against native Americans.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
This war film by Quentin Tarantino is delightfully violent and features an all-star cast including Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, and Diane Kruger, but they are all outdone by an epic performance from Christoph Waltz.
The movie follows two plots to take down the Nazi leadership, one my a group of American Jews trained for the purpose, and another by a young French-Jewish woman who has been personally victimized.
The Seige of Jadotville (2016)
This film written by Kevin Brodbin and directed by Richie Smyth, looks at one Irish army unit’s role in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Congo in 1961.
Led by a compelling performance by Jamie Dornan (yes of Fifty Shades of Grey fame), the Irish troops are caught in a siege and refuse to surrender, despite direct orders from their commanding officers. This is a David vs Goliath story that also manages some pretty epic battle scenes.
What To Watch Next?
Once you are done with these, there is plenty of other great action to get your teeth into on Netflix. Check out our list of the 20 best zombie movies on Netflix, or our list of the best epic fantasy and sci-fi on Netflix, which always promises over-the-top action and fun.