30 Best War Movies Available on Netflix Right Now

What is it that makes war movies so gripping? Is it the action, the violence? Is it a disturbing basic human need for conflict and destruction? Is it watching men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for what they think is important, or willing to do what for most of us is unthinkable in order to serve the great good? Is it the challenge of overcoming adversity, or the puzzle of figuring out how to turn a no-win situation to your advantage.

While the specific draw of war movies is a bit illusive, it is clear that the best movies marry compelling and gruesome action scenes with a story that has a lot of hear and characters that are even sympathetic, even when they are on what we consider the wrong side of a conflict.

So, what are some of the best war movies currently on Netflix to quench your thirst for a bit of violence?

1898: Our Last Men in the Philippines (2016)

IMDB Score 6.5/10

This 2016 Spanish drama depicts the Siege of Baler that took place in the Philippines in 1898 to 1899, during which 54 Spanish soldiers defended themselves in the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa church against Philippine revolutionaries. The siege lasted 377 days and marked the end of the Spanish Empire. There is nothing subtle about this film, which lays the horrors and moral ambiguities of war bare. It is nevertheless spectacular and striking and a compelling watch.

Act of Valor (2012)

IMDB Score 6.5/10

This American way movie features a relatively unknown cast, led by Roselyn Sanchez and Nestor Serrano, who acted alongside active U.S. Navy Seals. They were initially brought on board as advisors, but the creators quickly realised that no actors could inhabit the roles as well as the Seals themselves. The film follows a group of elite navy seals as they try and rescue a CIA agent that has been kidnapped in Costa Rica.

Another Mother’s Son (2017)

IMDB Score 6.7/10

This British war drama looks at the German occupation of the Channel Islands, and focusses on a woman from Jersey, played by Jenny Seagrove, who takes in an escaped Russian prisoner (Julian Kostov) to try and hide him from the Germans. Boyzone fans might enjoy seeing Ronan Keating in a supporting role, as well as learning about this lesser known part of WWII history.

The Battle of the Chosin (2016)

IMDB Score 7.8/10

This documentary by Michael Murphy focusses on the Battle of the Chosin River that took place during the first few months of the Korean War and changed the course of the war. On Thanksgiving Day in 1950, American-led United Nations troops were celebrating the holiday when Chinese forces caught them off guard, leaving twelve thousand men surrounded, outnumbered and facing certain death.

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

IMDB Score 7.8/10

This harrowing drama tells the story of a young boy who becomes a child soldier in an unspecified West African country. Writer0director 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.

Black Hawk Down (2001)

IMDB Score 7.7/10

This now-classic war film from Ridley Scott follows the 1993 raid by U.S. Military in Mogadishu, that aimed to capture an important faction leader, but ended in a firefight in the streets of the city. The film has a large ensemble cast including Ewan McGregor, Josh Hartnett and Eric Bana, almost all completely unrecognisable as they inhabit the role of marines under fire. But don’t watch this movie for the characters, watch it for the visceral and unrelenting experience of battle.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)

IMDB Score 7.8/10

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 focusses 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 criticised as creating false equivalence between victims and perpetrators, but it certainly offers food for thought.

Forbidden Ground (2013)

IMDB Score 4.9/10

This Australian war drama is set in France in 1916 and follows a group of British soldiers that find themselves stuck in No Man’s Land after a failed raid. Starring Johan Earl, Tim Pocock and Martin Copping, the men struggle to get back behind allied lines, while also having flashbacks to  their private lives in England which have led them to where they are today.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

IMDB Score 8.3/10

One of the classic war movies, this Stanley Kubrick masterpiece has a now all-star cast including Matthew Modine, Vincent D’Onofrio and Adam Baldwin. Based on the Gustav Hasford novel, it follows a platoon of US Marines through their brutal bootcamp training and into the Vietnam War. This film regularly appears in lists of the best movies of all time.

Fury (2014)

IMDB Score 7.6/10

One of many typical American war films, starring the always compelling Brad Pitt and excellent Jason Isaacs, this film is better than most of its ilk. It follows a U.S. tank crew in Germany during the final days of World War II. The experienced crew of veterans is joined by a new recruit, who casts the brutality and callousness that the crew has become accustomed to over the course of the war in a new light.

Geronimo (2012)

IMDB Score 5.7/10

A made for TV movie starring William Fichtner and Cam Gidget, it chronicles the Abbottabad compound raid of 2011 which resulted in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Pitched by the National Geographic Channel as a dramatization of real events, the White House has never confirmed or denied the details of the film.

Hurricane (2019)

IMDB Score 5.9/10

Based on a true story, this British movie recounts the exploits of 303 Squadron RAF during the Battle of Britain. The squad actually consisted of Polish pilots, many of which were veterans of the air battles against Germany in relation to the invasion of Poland. Good to see Iwan Rheon (Ramsey Bolton from Game of Thrones) in a less evil role.

The Hurt Locker (2008)

IMDB Score 7.6/10

This Academy Award-winning war film from director Kathryn Bigelow stars Jeremy Renner, Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce and follows an Iraq War explosive ordnance disposal team who are targeted by insurgents. It explores their psychological reactions to the stress of combat. This film is smart, well filmed so that you always know what is happening, and well acted.

Hyena Road (2015)

IMDB Score 6.8/10

A rare Canadian war movie, this film follows Canadian troops in Kandahar Province as they encounter resistance from insurgents as they try to construct a road leading into Taliban territory. Director Paul Gross manages gripping and realistic depictions of war, which are more sympathetic to the struggles of the other side than many American films.

Journey’s End (2017)

IMDB Score 6.7/10

This is a British war film based on the famous 1927 play of the same name by R.C. Sherriff. Starring Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield, Paul Bettany and Tom Sturridge, the film brings the play to life while remaining true t the source content. It highlights the intense role that class played in the British army at the time.

Lone Survivor (2013)

IMDB Score 7.5/10

Based on a biographical book by Marcus Luttrell, it looks at a U.S. Navy Seal counter-insurgent mission during the war in Afghanistan. Known as Operation Red Wings, a four man reconnaissance and surveillance team was tasked with tracking down the Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana.

My Honor was Loyalty (2016)

IMDB Score 4.4/10

This Italian war movie looks at how some German troops discovered some of the atrocities that they were being asked to fight for, but manages to do so without excusing anyone’s involvement. Our German soldier protagonist is knocked unconscious by Soviet troops, which places him on a journey of discovery and doubt as he questions what he is fighting for, while witnessing the deaths of his fellow soldiers and friends.

Platoon (1986)

IMDB Score 8.1/10

Another war classic, this is the first in a trilogy of Vietnam war films directed by Oliver Stone. Based on Stone’s own experience during the war, the movie follows a U.S. Army volunteer, played by Charlie Sheen, fighting in a war he does not understand while his superiors, played by Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe, fight for leadership of the platoon.

Restrepo (2010)

IMDB Score 7.5/10

This is an American documentary film about the war in Afghanistan, directed by journalist Sebastian Junger and photojournalist Tim Hetherington. It is based on the year that the two spent in Afghanistan on an assignment for Vanity Fair (of all magazines) while embedded in a platoon.

Rex (2017)

IMDB Score 7.1/10

This biographical film is based on the true story of a young female marine named Megan Leavey and a combat dog named Rex. Kata Mara stars as Leavey, who served two deployments in Iraq with Rex, sniffing out bombs. The film honours its subject with sensitivity, and a look at one of the many sides of war.

Riphagen: The Untouchable (2016)

IMDB Score 7.2/10

This Dutch drama looks at the life of Dries Riphagen, a Ditch criminal that collaborated with the Nazis. He spent the war pretending to help Jews in hiding in order to uncover their property in order for it to be seized by the German government. While this movie is low on battle scenes, it clearly portrays the horrors of war. While Riphagen remains a despicable opportunist throughout, his excellent portray by Jeroen van Koningsbrugge makes him highly watchable.

Sand Castle (2017)

IMDB Score 6.3/10

Henry Cavill war film, yes please. This film’s main protagonist is actually played by the talented Nicholas Hoult. He plays Matt Ocre, a young U.S. soldier who is tasked with restoring water to a village in Iraq. The film focusses on the uneasy relationship between the U.S. soldiers and the villagers that they are trying to help. The film can be a little slow going at points, but the 113 minutes is well worth the pay-off.

The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989)

IMDB Score 7/10

Starring Wings Hauser and R. Lee Ermey (who may have written the script), it tracks a marine unit holding a base against many attacks by the Viet Cong. Soon both sides realise that they are both pawns, with their sacrifices being made so that other elements of the army can play a more crucial role in the war.

The Siege of Jadotville (2016)

IMDB Score 7.3/10

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.

Special Forces (2011)

IMDB Score 6.4/10

This French war film stars Diane Kruger and Djimon Hounsou and shows French special forces on a mission to rescue a hostage in the Afghanistan and Pakistan area. More action than intricate plot, but it is well acted and a bit different from your normal war movie.

Tears of the Sun (2003)

IMDB Score 6.6/10

Bruce Willis (his character’s name doesn’t seem that important, he is Brice Willis) is sent into Nigeria in order to rescue a U.S. doctor, played by Monica Bellucci (make of that what you will), when rebels reach her remote hospital. This film lacks the heart of most of the other war films on this list, but is a great action romp. It also features an appearance from the amazing Tom Skerritt.

A War (2015)

IMDB Score 7.1/10

This Danish war film tells the story of a Danish military company in Afghanistan trying to protect civilians from the Taliban. The overly altruistic portrayal of their mission is turned on its head when a series of events leads the commander of the unit to be charged with war crimes. This film is half frontline battlefield thriller, half courtroom drama, but marries the two together in an engaging and intelligent way. If you are looking for something a bit different in your war movies, this is a good choice.

War Machine (2017)

IMDB Score 6/10

The second Brad Pitt war film on this list, this is a very different movie as it takes a satirical look at U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Pitt is joined by an all-star ensemble cast including Anthony Michael Hall, Topher Grace, Tilda Swinton, and the great Ben Kingsley. A fact-based story based on a book by Michael Hastings, this film manages to stay light with sharp wit and solid acting, without trivialising its content.

War Pigs (2015)

IMDB Score 4.2/10

A war film starring Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke, you probably know exactly what to expect. A disgraced U.S. army captain is given a chance to redeem himself by leading a group of misfits on a secret mission to destroy a Nazi superweapon. This is just as terrible as it sounds, but it is so terrible that it is just damn good!

Windtalkers (2002)

IMDB Score 6/10

Starring Nicholas Cage as a WWII corporal that returns to active duty after witnessing the death of almost his entire squad in a brutal battle, and losing most of the hearing in his left ear. He joins a group of code senders, but with orders to kill them if they are at risk of capture, so as not to let the code fall into enemy hands.

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