The 15 Best War Movies to Watch Right Now

Want action and explosions? These movies fit the bill

People enjoy watching war movies to relive a bit of history, learn more about veterans' experiences, and enjoy an action-packed movie. You can find almost every major war movie online; these are the best military movies you can stream right now.

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Saving Private Ryan (1998): Best Investigative War Movie

Screen capture from Saving Private Ryan

1998 Paramount Pictures/IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 8.6/10
  • Genre: Drama/War
  • Starring: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 169 min

This epic film tells the story of John Miller (Tom Hanks) who, after surviving the horrors of the Omaha Beach landing, has to recruit several men to embark on a dangerous mission. The mission? To sneak across the battlefields of France and locate a needle in a haystack; a single private whose brothers have all died in the war effort.

The search for Private Ryan takes the group of men through a German machine gun position, into the crosshairs of a German sniper, and finally to the bridge where they must assist with a last stand in order to complete their mission. The film won the Golden Globes award for the Best Picture and Director. It also won the Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound and Sound Effects Editing.

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Hacksaw Ridge (2016): Best Inspirational Story

Screen capture from Hackshaw Ridge

Cross Creek Pictures\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 8.1/10
  • Genre: Biography, Drama, History
  • Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey
  • Director: Mel Gibson
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 139 min

This may be one of the only military movies you'll ever watch that features a hero who refuses to kill people. In this riveting film, you'll meet Christian pacifist Desmond Doss, who wants to join the war effort, but doesn't want to kill anyone. Desmond becomes an Army Medic, but faces scorn and ridicule from the men who train alongside him.

In one of the most inspirational films in the genre, Desmond goes on to save countless lives and receives the Medal of Honor, without firing a single shot while in action. This film won several accolades, including Best Motion Picture of the Year at the Oscars, as well as Best Motion Picture - Drama and Best Motion Picture Director at the Golden Globes.

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Overlord (2018): Best Video Game Adventure

Screen capture of Overlord

Paramount Pictures\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 6.6/10
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Horror
  • Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier
  • Director: Julius Avery
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 110 min

For video game enthusiasts familiar with the entire DOOM franchise, the premise of this film will feel familiar. The film opens the evening of D-Day as American paratroopers drop behind enemy lines and make their way toward a radio transmitter at a church inside a Nazi-occupied village. They soon realize that the Church hides a terrifying underground lab where they must come face to face with creatures straight out of their worst nightmares.

The film didn't win any major film awards beyond the Best Horror Film from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, but it is still one of the more terrifying and heart-pounding war films on this list.

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Free State of Jones (2016): Best Fight for Freedom

Screen capture of Free State of Jones

STX Productions\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 6.9/10
  • Genre: Action, Biography, Drama
  • Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali
  • Director: Gary Ross
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 139 min

This film, set during the Civil War, tells the true story of Newt Knight, a Southern Farmer who is ahead of his time. During the war, Knight joins up with other farmers and escaped slaves in an armed uprising against the Confederacy. The story doesn't end once the war does. You'll learn about his controversial actions during the Reconstruction to ensure that his fellow neighbors are able to vote.

This film was one of McConaughey's best performances, and won him Best Actor at the BET Awards.

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Fury (2014): Best Tank Warfare Film

Screen capture of Fury

Sony Pictures\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 7.6/10
  • Genre: Action, Drama, War
  • Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman
  • Director: David Ayer
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 134 min

You may not think that a film about a single tank would be terribly exciting, but Fury proves that tank warfare can be as edge-of-your-seat thrilling as any other military movie. In this film, Sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier takes his five-man tank crew into a nerve-wracking mission behind Nazy enemy lines. It's a suicide mission, but it'll have you standing and cheering on the tank named Fury as the crew stands strong against overwhelming odds.

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13 Hours (2016): Most Tragic Political Story

Screen capture of 12 Hours

Paramount Pictures\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 7.3/10
  • Genre: Action, Drama, History
  • Starring: John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, James Badge Dale
  • Director: Michael Bay
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 144 min

The attack on the Benghazi U.S. Diplomatic compound became political fodder during the 2016 U.S. election, but few people understood the true drama that unfolded there. This film highlights the experiences of the six ex-military CIA contractors who defied all odds to defend the compound from hordes of heavily-armed insurgents.

The film is presented with typical Michael Bay cinematography, meaning edge-of-your seat action and lots of explosions. This film won one Oscar for Sound Mixing and the Golden Trailer award for Best Drama.

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Lone Survivor (2013): Best Survival War Movie

Screenshot of Lone Survivor

Universal Pictures\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 7.5/10
  • Genre: Action, Biography, Drama
  • Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch
  • Director: Peter Berg
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 121 min

This military movie centers around a single mission that took place in June of 2005 where a team of Navy Seals, led by Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) set out to take out a Taliban leader by the name of Ahmad Shah. After local Taliban discover their presence, the team is forced to fight for their very survival. This is one of those military movies that leave you no room to breath. This film was one of Wahlberg's first and best military film performances.

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Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Best Al-Qaeda History Lesson

Screenshots of Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 7.4/10
  • Genre: Drama, History, Thriller
  • Starring: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt
  • Director: Kathryn Bigelow
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 157 min

While the ten year quest to track down Osama bin Laden following 9/11 is described in nearly every modern history book, this film is the best way to experience the hunt yourself. Zero Dark Thirty details real efforts by real people like young CIA agent "Maya" (Jessica Chastain) whose work led to the location of bin Laden's Pakistan compound. The reconstruction of the raid on the compound aligned as closely to the actual military raid as possible.

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American Sniper (2014): Best Psychological War Movie

Screen capture of American Sniper

Warner Bros\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 7.3/10
  • Genre: Action, Biography, Drama
  • Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner
  • Director: Clint Eastwood
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 133 min

For moviegoers who love watching a skilled marksman save the day, this movie fits the bill. It covers the story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), a Navy S.E.A.L. renowned for his sniper skills. However, unlike most other war movies like this, it also details Kyle's struggles to adapt back into his family life after returning home. It's an engrossing film that combines both action and drama into one powerful package.

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Platoon (1986): Best Vietnam Classic

Screenshot of Platoon


  • IMDB rating: 8.1/10
  • Genre: Drama, War
  • Starring: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe
  • Director: Oliver Stone
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 120 min

Platoon is an iconic film that hit the theaters during the 1980s. It told the story of Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) who quits college to volunteer to serve in Vietnam. What he discovers there is moral turmoil and psychological conflict that plagues nearly every member of his platoon. He witnesses the destruction of villages, senseless horrors, and conflict within the ranks. By the end of his part in the war, Chris is left forever changed.

The film won Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars, and multiple Best Actor in a Supporting Role awards as well. It also claimed the titles of Best Motion Picture - Drama, and Best Director at the Golden Globes.

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We Were Soldiers (2002): Best Never Give Up Story

Screen capture of We Were Soldiers


  • IMDB rating: 7.2/10
  • Genre: Action, Drama, History
  • Starring: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear
  • Director: Randall Wallace
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 138 min

If you enjoy war movies, this is one that should be at the top of your list. It features the true story of the Army's 1st Calvary Division in one of the earlier major battles in Vietnam in 1965. The focus of the film is the vicious battle that took place in La Drang Valley, portrayed from the perspective of Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore (Mel Gibson). Few movies portrayed the chaos and senseless violence that soldier's experienced in the midst of Vietnam.


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Full Metal Jacket (1987): Most Iconic War Movie

Screen capture of Full Metal Jacket

Warner Bros\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 8.3/10
  • Genre: Drama, War
  • Starring: Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D'Onofrio
  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 116 min

Director Stanley Kubrick created many masterpieces in his lifetime, and this film was no exception. It brought the world iconic (and highly quotable) characters like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey). The two part movie takes you through brutal basic training, and then continues in 1968 when the recruits enter into the Vietnam conflict. Each character has their own story that develops brilliantly throughout the film.

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Apocalypse Now (1979): Most Realistic Vietnam Film

Screen captures of Apocalypse Now

Zoetrope Studios\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 8.4/10
  • Genre: Drama, Mystery, War
  • Starring: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
  • Director: Francis ford Coppola
  • Motion Picture Rating: R
  • Running time: 147 min

One of the earliest Vietnam war films of the era, released in 1979, Apocalypse Now became the world's first real insight into the psychological turmoil troops experienced during the war. This film details U.S. Army Captain Benjamin Willard's (Martin Sheen) mission to track down Green Beret Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Willard meets the iconic Lt. Colonel Kilgore who uttered the famous line, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." What Willard (and moviegoers) discover is that "insanity" isn't so easily defined in the context of the Vietnam war.

This film won two well-deserved Oscar awards - Best Cinematography and Best Sound, as well as several Golden Globe awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

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Unbroken (2014): The Most Inspirational Survival Story

Screen captures of Unbroken

Universal Pictures\IMDB

  • IMDB rating: 7.2/10
  • Genre: Action, Biography, Drama
  • Starring: Jack O'Connell, Miyavi, Domhnall Gleeson
  • Director: Angelina Jolie
  • Motion Picture Rating: PG-13
  • Running time: 137 min

Few war movies can match the level of inspiration offered by Unbroken. It details the story of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini, who crashed into the Pacific during World War II and was captured by the Japanese Navy. The film details Louie's time in a brutal Japanese POW camp, and his survival there. There are moments in the film that portray conditions where most men would crack, but Louis exemplified the unbreakable spirit of an Olympic athlete. The most captivating moment was when his unwillingness to collapse even put his Japanese captors in awe.

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The Siege of Jadotville (2016): Best Castle Defense Story

Screen captures from The Siege of Jadotville


  • IMDB rating: 7.2/10
  • Genre: Action, Drama, History
  • Starring: Richard Lukunku, Danny Sapani, Andrew Stock
  • Director: Richie Smyth
  • Motion Picture Rating: TV-MA
  • Running time: 108 min

This film portrays the true story of an Irish peacekeeping force that was charged in 1961 to protect the mining town of Jadotville during the start of the civil war in Congo. The focus of the movie centers around attacks by French and Belgian Mercenaries, and the heroic and selfless actions of the Irish peacekeepers to fend off those attacks.

Jamie Dornan is amazing as Irish Commandant Pat Quinlan. The battle scenes will leave you on the edge of your seat, wondering if the under-supplied Irish soldiers are going to run out of bullets before the last skirmish is over.

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