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The 15 best war movies on Netflix (January 2021)

The 15 best war movies on Netflix
The war movies Glory and Enemy at the Gates on Netflix. Pic credit: TriStar/Paramount

Netflix is a perfect streaming service for movie fans, as there are great options for every genre of movies, and this is true for war movies as well.

Whether it is movies taking place during real-world wars, sci-fi movies with battles against aliens or robots, or films that take place with the war as a backdrop, there are several great war movies on Netflix for fans to enjoy.

Whether it is a Netflix original or a movie licensed from another studio, there is something here for everyone.

As with all Netflix movies and TV shows, there are several that leave the streaming-service every month. The good news is that many films and TV shows are replacing them each month.

Make sure to bookmark this page as we will update it every month with the new releases while also removing those movies that have left Netflix.

Updated on January 7: Every month, movies leave Netflix, and others show up to replace them. This means some of the best movies we might list here as recommendations are no longer available to view the streaming giant.

The good news is that we will be coming back to this article every month and removing those movies no longer available, and replacing them with new options that are of equal, or in some cases, superior quality.

The Outpost (2020)

The 15 best war movies on Netflix
The Outpost. Pic credit: Screen Media Gems

The Outpost was a Screen Media Gems release in 2020 that was based on the non-fiction book by Jake Tapper.

The book and movie take place during the Battle of Kamdesh in the war in Afghanistan.

The cast is top-notch, with Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, and Jack Kesy. It was supposed to premiere at South by Southwest in 2020 but that was canceled due to COVID-19 and it is now available on Netflix.

The Outpost has a great 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Outlaw King (2018)

The 15 best war movies on Netflix
Chris Pine in Outlaw King. Pic credit: Netflix

Outlaw King is a 2018 Netflix original war movie starring Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce.

The movie shows how Robert the Bruce launched a guerilla war against the large English army, starting when he rebelled against Edward I, becoming an outlaw, until the Battle of Loudoun Hill.

Pine (Wonder Woman) starred, alongside Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Avengers: Infinity War) and Florence Pugh (Black Widow).

The movie is bloody and doesn’t skimp on the battle scenes, picking up a nomination for its visual effects in 2019.

Platoon (1986)

Platoon
Willem Defoe in Platoon. Pic credit: Orion Pictures

Platoon is one of the most unforgiving and brilliant war movies ever made, and it is now on Netflix.

Oliver Stone directs this movie, which has an all-star cast and is based on Stone’s experience from serving in the war.

Charlie Sheen stars as a U.S. Army volunteer who serves in Vietnam and finds himself in the middle of a war of morals between his squad leaders (Willem Defoe and Tom Berenger).

The rest of the cast includes Keith David, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley, Forest Whitaker, and Johnny Depp.

The film received praise for its realistic battle scenes and won four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Enemy at the Gates
Jude Law in Enemy at the Gates. Pic credit: Paramount Pictures

Released in 2001, Enemy at the Gates is based on the 1973 non-fiction novel by William Craig.

The film takes place during the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-43 and tells the fictional story of a Soviet Union sniper (Vasily Zaytsev), who was considered a hero of the Soviet Union in World War II.

Jude Law stars in the movie as Zaytsev, while Ed Harris stars as a Nazi sniper school instructor named Konig, with who he has a duel. Rachel Weisz, Joseph Fiennes, Bob Haskins, and Ron Perlman also star.

The 12th Man (2017)

The 12th Man
The 12th Man war movie. Pic credit: IFC Midnight

The 12th Man was a Norweigian war movie released in 2017.

The movie focuses on the escape of Jan Baalsrud (Thomas Gullestad) from the Nazis during World War II.

The title is based on the fact that there were 12 Norweigan resistance fighters in an attack on the Nazis. Their attack failed, and 11 of them are executed after interrogation and torture.

Jan is the 12th man, and the last alive, as he sets out on his escape, trying to get to neutral Sweden.

Unlike the book it is based on, the movie deals with the people who helped him escape and the courage of the local population. It is also a cat and mouse game, with his pursuers given the face of a Nazi pursuer played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.

Glory (1989)

Glory
Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington in Glory. Pic credit: TriStar Pictures

Released in 1989, Glory tells the true story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first-ever African-American regiment for the Union in the American Civil War.

The film stars Matthew Broderick as the commanding officer and some major heavyweights as the soldiers, including Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman.

Based on the books telling the story via the personal letters of Broderick’s character (Col. Robert Gould Shaw), the film shows their formation and the men’s heroic actions at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner.

Glory picked up five Oscar nominations and won three of them, including one for Denzel Washington for Best Supporting Actor.

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Isiah Whitlock Jr.. as Melvin, Norm Lewis as Eddie, Delroy Lindo as Paul, Clarke Peters as Otis and Jonathan Majors as David in Da 5 Bloods
Isiah Whitlock Jr.. as Melvin, Norm Lewis as Eddie, Delroy Lindo as Paul, Clarke Peters as Otis, and Jonathan Majors as David in Da 5 Bloods. Pic credit: Netflix

Spike Lee chose Netflix to create his latest movie, and Da 5 Bloods hit the streaming service in June 2020.

In his first movie since winning an Oscar for BlackKklansman, Lee tells the story of a group of Vietnam War veterans returning to Vietnam to find their fallen squad leader’s remains.

They also want to retrieve some treasure they buried there.

The cast is fantastic, with Delroy Lindo, the late Chadwick Boseman, and more. Critics praised the movie, with a 92-percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monsters & Critics John Dotson called it “magnificently tense as well as riveting.”

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Pic credit: Picturehouse

Guillermo Del Toro directed the fantasy movie Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006 – a fairy tale story about a young girl who discovers a fantastical undergrown world.

However, on top of the fantasy movie aspects, Pan’s Labyrinth is set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, haunting its every moment.

The film also takes the horrors of war and creates an almost alternate fantasy world that allows the little girl to escape the real horrors, only to find more horrific monsters at her final destination.

This is easily one of the best movies on Netflix and remains Del Toro’s masterpiece.

War Horse (2011)

War Horse
Jeremy Irvine in War Horse. Pic credit: Disney

A second Steven Spielberg movie about the war on this list, War Horse, isn’t as critically acclaimed as Schindler’s List, but it is a great movie nonetheless.

This is a movie about a horse named Joey, who is lovingly raised by a young boy in Britain but then sold to the British Army to serve in World War I.

The film then shows the horrors of the war through the horse’s journey as it lives through battles and goes from the British troops to Germany and back again.

At the end of the day, this a story about a boy and his horse, as the child becomes a man, enlists in the military, and is eventually reunited with his beloved companion.

Extraction (2020)

The best action movies on Netflix (July 2020)
Chris Hemsworth in Extraction. Pic credit: Netflix

Extraction is a Netflix original movie starring Chris Hemsworth, better known to Marvel movie fans as Thor.

This movie takes place in Bangladesh, a war-ravaged country, and Hemsworth is a black-market mercenary named Tyler Rake, who is sent in to save Ovi, the son of an incarcerated Indian drug lord.

This movie might be one of the most violent films on Netflix, with more kills than most war movies, and almost all of them at the hands of Tyler Rake himself.

Thanks to its insane action and the star-power of Hemsworth, the film was watched by approximately 90 million households its first month of release, one of the more successful Netflix releases in 2020.

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
The sci-fi alien war movie Battle: Los Angeles. Pic credit: Sony

Battle: Los Angeles was a 2011 sci-fi war movie where the U.S. Marines are called to help protect Los Angeles from a global alien invasion.

The film stars Aaron Eckhart as a Marine Staff Sergeant while other big names in the cast include Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Pena, and Ne-Yo.

The movie starts with meteors hitting the world’s oceans, which turns out to be hostile aliens. It is up to the world’s military forces to protect its citizens, and this movie mostly focuses on the attack on Los Angeles.

The film was clearly trying to set up a franchise, but it all ended with this one release, which you can watch now on Netflix.

A Bridge Too Far (1977)

A Bridge Too Far
The cast of A Bridge Too Far. Pic credit: United Artists

In 1977, actor Richard Attenborough directed one of the best war movies of the ’70s with A Bridge Too Far.

Attenborough, who most people know as the financer John Hammond in the original Jurassic Park movie, had an all-star cast for this World War II movie.

James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, and Robert Redford were among the Oscar winners who starred in this movie.

The film tells the story of the failed Operation Market Garden in World War II. It picked up eight BAFTA nominations, winning for four of them.

Defiance (2008)

Defiance
Daniel Craig and Jamie Bell in Defiance. Pic credit: Paramount Vantage

Defiance is a war film from 2008 directed by Edward Zwick (Glory), and it told a war story from World War II.

Based on the book by Nechama Tec, this is about the Bielski partisans, a group of Jewish partisans who rescued Jewish people from extermination while also fighting the Nazi occupiers.

The main characters are brothers, Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber), Asael (Jamie Bell), and Aron (George MacKay), whose parents were killed by German occupiers, and they set out to avenge their parent’s death.

These brothers started a unit that saved tens of thousands of people.

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Beasts of No Nation
The Netflix original Beasts of No Nation. Pic credit: Netflix

Beasts of No Nation was the first movie that Netflix ever picked up as an original and did so in 2015.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective), this movie tells the story of a young boy who becomes a child soldier during a horrific war.

The film is based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, was part of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, and was then picked up by Netflix and given a limited release.

Idris Elba was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes while winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for the same honor. The film was not nominated for an Oscar due to its early prejudice against Netflix.

Act of Valor (2012)

Act of Valor
The war movie Act of Valor. Pic credit: Relativity Media

In 2012, Act of Valor hit theaters as a look at the SEALs and Special Boat Team members.

The film was developed after directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh shot a promotional video for the real-life U.S. Navy forces and wanted to bring their story to the big screen.

As a result, active-duty SEALs starred in the movie, and the Navy is using it to recruit people into service.

The movie started with a terrorist killing a U.S. ambassador and dozens of children in an elementary school with an IED disguised as an ice cream truck. The film then tracks the Navy special forces as they hunt down the terrorists.

Shawn S. Lealos


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