Every movie fan has their favorite genre, be it action, adventure, horror, or award-winning drama. But it’s the stories of those who take up arms to defend a nation that can capture every one of those strengths, and combine them into tales of survival and heroism that, when done right, can stand as lasting memorials for decades. Here are Screen Rant’s 5 Best Military Movies of All Time.
Black Hawk Down
Based on the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu (pronounced "Moe-Guh-Dee-Shoo") in which two American Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in enemy territory, Black Hawk Down follows the hour-long rescue mission that became an overnight siege. Director Ridley Scott gave audiences a front row seat to the confusion, relentless firefights, and the camaraderie that saw the soldiers through. The battle may have made headlines at home, but the film reminds us of the valour possible in every military engagement – and that hearing about combat and seeing it up close are two different things.
The story of actually filming Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now is as incredible as the on told in the film itself, but it’s the movie’s star soldier, sent to assassinate a renegade colonel deep in the jungles of Vietnam that is most remembered. Strangely, the story isn't based on any actual event, but an updated version of the 1899 novel "Heart of Darkness." Tthe Vietnam War was simply a suitable backdrop for exploring the horrors even ‘good’ people are capable of; an unforgettable script, star-studded cast, and Coppola’s direction ensured its legacy as one of the greatest films ever made.
Since writer and director Oliver Stone actually served in the Vietnam War, Platoon is one war story of particular note. Based on real battles and soldiers that Stone witnessed firsthand, the director's commitment to realism meant putting the actors through actual military training, even launching surprise night time attacks - complete with staged explosions - to leave his cast as fatigued and weary as he had been during the war. In the end, the film's focus on a single hero's coming-of-age and loss of innocence spoke to an entire generation, guaranteeing Platoon's place among military dramas seeking realism over spectacle.
Full Metal Jacket
"Vietnam can kill me, but it can't make me care." The tagline for Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket captures the attitude of this war story perfectly, following a platoon of soldiers from basic training to the heat of battle overseas. The director’s talent for dark humor put the insanity of war in the spotlight, revealing how much damage war can inflict even on those who survive it. The idea that not every war is glorious - or even rational – is the heart of the film - summed up perfectly in the platoon's unforgettable battle song:
Saving Private Ryan
A squad of soldiers heading through World War 2-era France to find a single private, and send him home may sound like a small story, but Saving Private Ryan was anything but. Beginning with a monumental re-enactment of the Omaha Beach assault - using more than 1,000 extras to capture the scale and intensity of the D-Day invasion - the 27-minute long sequence was enough to make director Steven Spielberg’s efforts worthwhile. What followed was a faithful tale of bravery and sacrifice that earned the movie 11 Oscar nominations and 5 wins, and one largely considered to be the greatest war movie ever made. Re-defining the look of an entire global conflict for years to come, the impact of the film - like the war it recreated - are still felt to this day.