Last Updated: January 11th
War films have long-captivated audiences, showcasing tales of both humanity’s cruelty and its nobility. There is no shortage of good military films on Netflix, ranging from Hollywood classics to modern, genre-bending pictures. Here are some of the best war movies on Netflix right now to stream.
Outlaw King (2018)
Run Time: 121 min | IMDb: 7/10
Chris Pine goes full-on Braveheart in this historical action epic about Scottish nobleman Robert the Bruce, who led a rebellion against England. Pine plays the famous “Outlaw King,” a soft-spoken good guy who thwacks his enemies with his ax and believes in freedom for Scotland above all else. His sidekick, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is a bit more complicated, a nobleman looking to win back his title through bloodshed. There’s plenty of the expected fare here: Beards, Scottish brogue, majestic scenery, men wrestling in the mud, and Chris Pine’s peen. Honestly, if you come for nothing else, come for Chris Pine’s peen.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Run Time: 144 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Ridley Scott’s 2001 war drama boasts an impressive ensemble cast and a gripping true story, two essentials to any great war film. Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana, Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Tom Sizemore, Sam Shephard, and a host of other A-listers star in this re-telling of the infamous Battle of Mogadishu, a 1993 raid by U.S. troops in Somalia that ended in tragedy. The objective of the mission was to capture a rebel leader responsible for inciting violence and genocide in the country. The film details all of the unfortunate circumstances that led to U.S. troops being pinned down in a remote village in Somalia, being forced to fight for their lives without backup, and ultimately, causing the U.S. government to decide to pull troops from the area. Hartnett gives a credible leading man performance as the young officer in charge of his first command, and the film finds its footing when it focuses in on its main characters, men trying to survive in a hostile environment despite impossible odds.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
Run Time: 183 min | IMDb: 6.1/10
Pearl Harbor was a turning point in World War II and the attack marked a devastating blow of the U.S. military. It’s a battle pretty much everyone, history-lover or not, knows about, which means injecting something new and exciting into it is, for a filmmaker, difficult. This Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale-led rendition is mostly bogged down by a convoluted and unnecessary love triangle, but with Michael Bay at the helm, you can at the very least expect some exquisitely choreographed action sequences. And explosions. There are a ton of explosions.
Last Men in Aleppo (2017)
Run Time: 83 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Technically, Last Men in Aleppo is a war documentary but it belongs on this list because frankly, it should be required viewing for everyone. The Syrian Civil War is an easily-forgotten mass tragedy since it takes place hundreds of thousands of miles away from most of us, but directors Feras Fayyad and Steen Johannessen make the conflict immediate and horrifyingly-real with this doc that follows three members of the White Helmets, a group of volunteer rescuers who are the first-responders when the bombs drop on innocent civilians in a way ravaging their native land.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Run Time: 147 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Francis Ford Coppola’s war epic starring Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen is a feat of filmmaking and a wild, gory ride. It’s basically a reinventing of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness — a truly bonkers novel — with the bloody conflict in the Congo being swapped out for the then-timely Vietnam War. Sheen plays Captain Benjamin Willard, an Army officer tasked with assassinating Brando’s Colonel Kurtz, a renegade Army officer accused of murder. Most of the film’s action centers on Sheen’s secret mission, his journey from Vietnam to Cambodia, and his showdown with Brando’s Kurtz, who’s been driven mad with power.
Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Run time: 134 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
It’s hard not to like a guy as talented and charismatic as Idris Elba but the actor plays a morally-corrupt psychopath to perfection in Beasts of No Nation. As the Commandant, Elba recruits young boys to his rebel army fighting the government of Ghana by forcing them to undergo a brutal initiation process. Agu, a young boy who saw his father and older brother murdered at the hands of the government, is captured and indoctrinated into the Commandant’s army, suffering through terrible torture, both physical and psychological, before he eventually escapes.
Run Time: 150 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Any historical drama with Daniel Day-Lewis starring is going to be worth a watch but Lincoln is Day-Lewis at his best. The actor’s eerily-accurate portrayal of one of the most famous presidents in the history of the United States is powerful and moving, even though everyone already knows the story of Lincoln’s terms in office and his eventual, tragic ending. The film touches on the Civil War, the fight for racial equality, the need to end slavery, and the president’s personal investment in the cause. Lincoln is a master-class in acting and an enthralling history lesson all in one.