The most common themes in war movies include combat, sacrifice, survival, and escape, but the best of them also highlight the effects war has on society, the ineffectiveness and inhumanity of battle, as well as other moral and human matters raised by war. There are some great war movies on Netflix, from classic films to modern-day war. Here are 12 of the best war movies on Netflix you can stream right now.
11. Field of Lost Shoes (2014)
Release Date on Netflix: February 1, 2015
Director: Sean McNamara
Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes
IMDb Rating: 5.7
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 48%
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for war violence and some thematic elements
Streaming on: Netflix US
This is among the best Netflix war movies because it is based on a true story during the American Civil War. It focuses primarily on the Battle of New Market, which occurred in May 1864. A team of teenage cadets, sheltered from the war while attending Virginia Military Institute, must leave behind their innocence and youth. They are forced to face the reality of an adult world that is emerged in a war when they are required to defend the Shenandoah Valley.
A fun fact about this movie is that rubber bayonets were actually used on set during the battle scenes. The film is also slightly historically inaccurate, as teenagers did fight in the Civil War.
10. Hyena Road (2015)
Release Date on Netflix: January 1, 2017
Director: Paul Gross
IMDb Rating: 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%
MPAA Rating: R (for bloody war violence, language throughout and some sexual material)
Streaming on: Netflix US, Canada
Although not the best rated, we consider Hyena Road one of the best war movies on Netflix thanks to the various perspectives of war shown to the viewer. Three men with three various paths are all caught in conflict but ultimately brought together to help save lives. This group consists of a highly skilled sniper, an intelligence officer who has yet to kill somebody, and an Afghan warrior who tried to leave the war behind, but gets sucked back in.
One interesting this about this movie is that “Hyena Road” is an actual road and was known as “route Hyena”. Many of the background stories portrayed in this film did happen during its construction.
9. Tears of the Sun (2003)
Release Date on Netflix: September 5, 2016
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Runtime: 2 hours 1 minute
IMDb Rating: 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%
MPAA Rating: R (for strong war violence, some brutality, and language)
Streaming on: Netflix US, UK, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and other South American countries.
Among the best Netflix was movies also comes “Tears of the Sun.” In this film, a Special-Ops commander, A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis), leads his elite team of tactical specialists into the Nigerian jungle to rescue a doctor to help them. However, the doctor refuses to leave the jungle unless Waters promises to help bring 70 villagers to a political asylum near the border.
During the filming of this movie in October of 2002, a stuntman died while filming a parachuting scene in California. He was jumping with a team of eight other skydivers from 14,000 feet and landed about three hundred yards offshore and drowned.
8. The Way Back (2010)
Release Date on Netflix: November 19, 2013
Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Runtime: 2 hours 13 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, depiction of physical hardships, strong language, and brief nudity
Streaming on: Netflix US, UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Poland, India, Puerto Rico, and Japan.
Another one of best war movies on Netflix is “The Way Back.” After his wife blows his cover as a possible spy in during the 1930s, Janusz (Jim Sturgess) ends up in a remote labor camp in Siberia. There, he faces horrible conditions, which determines him to get out. A blizzard gives him an opportunity to do so, so he and a group of other prisoners manage to escape. The events of this movie take place in 1941 and focus on the extreme temperatures, scarce food and water, and mosquitoes the group endures while walking about 4,000 miles through seemingly endless deserts and the Himalayas.
This film was created on a 53,820-square-foot camp in Gulag that was built in Sofia, Bulgaria. Today, it is still maintained by the studio so other films can be shot there.
7. The Longest Day (1962)
Release Date on Netflix: February 1, 2017
Director: Andrew Marton, Ken Annakin, Bernhard Wicki
Runtime: 2hr 58m
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
MPAA Rating: G
Streaming on: Netflix US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
Among the good war movies on Netflix is “The Longest Day.” It is also one of the best WW2 movies on Netflix. This movie is about the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War II and follows multiple characters to create the story of five different points of invasion that created the operation. It stars Eddie Albert and Paul Anka among other resounding names from that time.
Movie reviewers have a lot of positive things to say about it, but Dwight Eisenhower actually walked out on the movie after watching it for a few minutes because he was frustrated by the inaccuracies. Lt. Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort was also disappointed by the movie, as his character who was 27 at D-Day was played by John Wayne who was 54 at the time. Nevertheless, this is one of the most memorable and best war movies on Netflix.
6. Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Release Date on Netflix: October 16, 2015
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Runtime: 2 hours 17 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Suggested MPAA Rating: R for sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, smoking, alcohol, and drug consumption, frightening and intense scenes (not rated in the USA)
Streaming on: All Netflix markets (including Netflix US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.)
This Netflix original war movie accurately depicts the mechanics of modern war and is filled with shocking, visceral details. The movie starts off with introducing us to Agu (Abraham Attah) and his beginnings in the army of the fictional African country: the fear his commander and the other soldiers instill in him and the brutality of the fact that he needs to grow up in this environment at such an impressionable age. The movie depicts a very complex and, at times, difficult to watch portrait of young Agu and is one of the best war movies on Netflix.
The movie was shot in Ghana in just 35 days. The director cast former child soldiers and members of the Liberian Armed Forces both as extras and as consultants; however, many had issues getting into Ghana as Ivory Coast authorities suspected them of being mercenaries.
5. The Imitation Game (2014)
Release Date on Netflix: September 28, 2017
Director: Morten Tyldum
Runtime: 1 hour 54 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual references, mature material, and smoking
Streaming on: Netflix US, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Peru, and Turkey.
The story of this movie revolves around famous mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing who, together with other specialists in the field, is trying to crack the code behind the German Enigma Machine during the Second World War. Director Morten Tyldum did a great job with portraying the brilliance of his mind during the very time-sensitive and pressure-filled last days of WW2. Their efforts and contribution were even recognized by Winston Churchill.
Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Alan Turing in this movie, mentioned he had a breakdown while filming one of the final scenes of this movie because he learned so much and grew so fond of his character, he couldn’t stop thinking about how much Turing had suffered. Many viewers swear this is one of the best war movies on Netflix, and we agree; Cumberbatch’s performance is impressive!
4. Brothers in War (2014)
Release Date on Netflix: January 24, 2017
Director: Liz Reph
Runtime: 1 hour 28 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Streaming on: Netflix US, Canada, most of South America and most of Europe.
One of the best war movies on Netflix, although less known than others on this list, is “Brothers in War.” This movie has been highly appreciated as it is a documentary that tells of gripping first-person accounts of war action, along with digitally remastered archival footage. This documentary includes the soldiers’ personal home movies and audiotapes, recounting the distressing combat experiences from the Vietnam War. This film follows Charlie Company, one of the final drafted American combat infantries, trained and sent to fight in Vietnam.
This war documentary is narrated by Charlie Sheen, who became famous after his 1986 performance in “Platoon” playing a Vietnam soldier.
3. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Release Date on Netflix: April 1, 2017
Directors: Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth
Runtime: 2 hours 33 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
MPAA Rating: R for graphic violence, language, and sexuality
Streaming on: Netflix US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, UK, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Ireland, Finland, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.
The story takes place during World War II in Nazi-occupied France and follows a group of US guerilla soldiers of Jewish descent who plan on killing Hitler. However, their plan interferes with that of a young Jewish refugee who watched as her family was murdered in cold blood by a Nazi colonel. Now a theater owner, she plans on getting her revenge when a German war hero takes an interest in her and her theater for a grand movie premiere. This is one of the best war movies on Netflix as it tells a different, but equally captivating war story than most.
Fun fact: During the casting search for Colonel Hans Landa, Tarantino came very close to abandoning the film fearing he had written an unplayable role; this, until Christoph Waltz auditioned for the role and both the director and the producer became convinced they found the perfect match for the role. Other resounding names include Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, and Michael Fassbender.
2. Braveheart (1995)
Release Date on Netflix: January 3, 2017
Director: Mel Gibson
Runtime: 2hr 57m
IMDb Rating: 8.4
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
MPAA Rating: R (for brutal medieval warfare)
Streaming on: Netflix Canada, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland; unfortunately, this movie is no longer available on Netflix US.
“Braveheart” is one of the best war movies on Netflix, as well as one of the most well-known. It is the story of a legendary 13th-century Scottish noble named William Wallace (Mel Gibson). Following the execution of his secret bride who assaulted an English soldier after he tried to rape her, Wallace rallies his Scottish people against King Edward I of England. The amateur Scottish warriors turn out to be much stronger than the English army throughout this film.
Mel Gibson actually declined the role of William Wallace initially, claiming that a younger actor would make more sense in the role. However, the only way he was able to get financing to produce the movie was if he made a deal with Paramount studios to play this role.
1. Schindler’s List (1993)
Release Date on Netflix: September 4, 2015
Director: Steven Spielberg
Runtime: 3 hours 15 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.9
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexuality, and violence
Streaming on: Netflix US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, France, Puerto Rico, France, Finland, Spain, Italy, Venezuela, and Brazil.
Schindler’s List recounts the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist and member of the Nazi party who becomes concerned about his Jewish employees’ safety and wellbeing after witnessing the persecution of Jewish people by the Nazis. Schindler saved around 1,200 people from the gas chambers by turning his factory into a safe space for the victims of the Nazi regime. This is, hands down, the best war movie on Netflix.
To be able to gather enough costumes for 20,000 extras, the crew put out advertisements offering pay for clothes from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Moreover, when one of the Holocaust survivors was introduced to Ralph Fiennes who played an Austrian SS captain, she began shaking because of the striking resemblance between the two.
Even though there are many other war movies available for online streaming, these are, hands-down, the best war movies on Netflix at the moment; and with titles like Schindler’s List, Braveheart, Inglourious Basterds, or The Imitation Game, these seem to overlap with the best war movies of all time! If you were to pick a favorite, which one would that be?