Military Movies and Shows on Netflix

Military Movies and Shows on Netflix

For July,Netflix  features  an outstanding Danish drama about one family’s struggles during the husband’s military service, a fascinating mystery inspired by the homefront murder of a real-life soldier in the Iraq war, and a rah-rah revisionist version of the Bengazi attacks.

1. A War

This Danish drama is one of the finest movies ever about a family’s experiences at war, both on the front lines and back at home. Nominated for Best Foreign Picture at the Oscars, it’s not flashy but the incredible performances will have you thinking about the film for months after. You can watch it in Danish with English subtitles (recommended) or dubbed into English if you think you can’t handle a foreign movie. (2016)

2. In the Valley of Elah

A soldier recently returned from Iraq goes missing and is found dead. His father, a military police veteran played by Tommy Lee Jones, decides that he doesn’t like the police investigation and sets out to find the truth. That ugly truth involves his platoon mates and the suggestion that PTSD played a role in his death. It was writer/director Paul Haggis’ next movie after his Oscar-winning “Crash” and it’s based on a “Playboy” magazine story by future “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” screenwriter Mark Boal. (2007)

3. Jarhead 3: The Siege

Not only does this quickie action thriller have nothing to do with the well-regarded 2005 Marine Corps drama, it also has zero to do with the 2014 faux-sequel “Jarhead 2.” It’s a fantasy retelling of the Benghazi attacks at an embassy in an unnamed country. The Americans are the heroes and the bad guys get smoked. (2016)


4. Tears of the Sun

Lt. A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) leads a Navy SEAL team sent to rescue Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) during the Nigerian civil war. Kendricks won’t allow herself to be rescued without her patients, so Waters goes against orders in an attempt to save the 70 refugees she won’t leave behind. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day” and “Olympus Has Fallen”) knows how to make an action picture, but the movie has more of a ‘80s action movie approach to the military and doesn’t much resemble the serious exactitude of post-9/11 tributes to the troops. It’s a Bruce Willis action picture: the fact that he’s a SEAL is incidental. (2003)


5. The Bridge on the River Kwai

David Lean’s WWII classic won the Best Picture Oscar for 1957. Alec Guinness’ performance as the complicated and conflicted Lt. Colonel Nicholson also won him Best Actor. Set in a Sri Lankan POW camp, Nicholson attempts to build morale among the enlisted men by having them build a proper bridge for the Japanese army, even though their efforts are most definitely aiding the enemy. Escaped prisoner Commander Shears (William Holden) is forced to join a commando mission to blow up the bridge before completion. (1957)


6. Rock the Kasbah

Bill Murray is a washed-up rock manager who takes an American singer on a USO tour. He ends up abandoned and penniless in Kabul but discovers a talented young singer and guides her to compete on “Afghan Star,” a local version of “American Idol.” The movie filmed in Morocco instead of Afghanistan and it’s got some negative reviews, but nothing will Bill is completely unwatchable. Plus you get Bruce Willis, Danny McBride, Kate Hudson and Zooey Deschanel. (2015)


7. Above & Beyond

More proof that the popular narratives about World War II barely scratch the surface. This documentary details the role of WWII veterans (many of them American) in the early days of Israel’s air force. The United States was technically neutral in those early days and men who aided the Israeli military risked prison back home. The filmmakers get in under the historical wire, since there are enough men still alive to tell a tale they wouldn’t have dared share publicly at the time. Bonus: Pee Wee Herman’s dad was one of the pilots and he shows up with his mom to talk about that legacy. (2015)


8. The Enemy Below

Film noir star Dick Powell tried to make a move into the director’s chair in the late ‘50s, but it was bad luck that his first gig was “The Conqueror” starring John Wayne. Early scenes from that (terrible) movie were shot in Utan downwind from nuclear bomb test sites and almost half of the cast developed cancer over the next twenty years and Powell was gone by 1963. The only other movie he directed was this WWII ”KILLER-SUB versus SUB KILLER” movie starring Robert Mitchum as a Naval reserve captain hunting a German U-boat commanded by a Curd Jürgens. We’re supposed to feel sympathy for the German because he’s not enamored of his Nazi leaders, so this one’s about the mutual respect that warriors feel in battle. It’s surprising to see Hollywood moving on from Evil Nazis so soon after the conflict ended. (1957)


9. Last Days in Vietnam

This PBS documentary details the American withdrawal from Saigon in April 1975. As the North Vietnamese army closed in, the U.S. military had to evacuate 5,000 Americans and made efforts to rescue a large number of Vietnamese who had supported the U.S. during the war. (2014)


10. The Railway Man

Colin Firth plays a British army officer who was tortured as a POW in a Japanese labor camp during WWII. Decades later, he learns that the Japanese interpreter who tormented him is still alive and, with the help of his wife (Nicole Kidman), returns to the site of his trauma and to confront the man responsible. This movie is less flashy than “Unbroken” but equally intense. (2013)



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