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The 10 best Netflix war movies you should add to your watchlist
Movies depicting war and military conflict have been around almost since the very beginning of moving pictures. From films that honor those who serve their country in battle, to movies that have an anti-war stance, you will find some of the best war movies ever made if you sign up for a Netflix streaming subscription. We have picked our top 10 best war movies on Netflix that are currently available.
These Netflix war movies are set in different time periods and a couple of them even cross-genre lines into horror, sci-fi, and satire.
Best war movies on Netflix:
Editor’s note: We will update this post as new Netflix war movies are added to the service and others are removed.
IMDb rating – 6.5
Chris Hemsworth trades in his Thor hammer for a US Army rifle in this 2018 movie. It’s based on the true story of a small 12 man group of Army Special Forces members who are ordered to Afghanistan just a few weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. They have to overcome tons of obstacles and challenges to try to fight the enemy Taliban forces in that country. It’s one of the best war movies on Netflix.
IMDb rating – 6.3
This Netflix war movie takes place during the War in Iraq, and it’s based on the real-life experiences of screenplay writer Chris Roessner. Private Matt Ocre may have joined the army to help pay for college before 9/11, but once war breaks out, he finds himself unenthusiastically shipped over to the Middle East. When his unit is assigned to repair a broken water system in a dangerous part of the country, he comes face to face with the reality of dealing with insurgent forces. The film addresses the stress and insecurity of young soldiers during the conflict and rings true with the experiences of men sent overseas.
Beasts of No Nation
IMDb rating – 7.7
It’s one thing to see free-willing, grown men in battle, but kids living war is a whole other level of heart-wrenching. Beasts of No Nation takes you through an emotional roller coaster, following Agu’s life during a civil war in West Africa. His family is separated, and some of it killed. His attempts to escape fail, after which he is forced to join the battle. He is forced to do things no kid should ever have to. While a very sad movie, Beasts of No Nation is definitely one of the best war movies on Netflix.
IMDb rating – 6.0
This Netflix original war movie is also one of its biggest budgeted films. Released in 2017, this is a fictional movie, but it’s based on the real-life exploits of US Army general Stanley McChrystal. Brad Pitt plays General Glen McMahon, who has been asked to try to wrap up the current war in Iraq in 2009. This satirical movie shows General McMahon trying to get more troops together for one final push to win the war, but he is faced with opposition on several military and political fronts to his plan.
War Machine uses humor to show what the military has to deal with besides fighting the enemy, and it has a huge (some might say over-the-top) performance by Pitt.
The Hurt Locker
IMDb rating – 7.5
The 2008 Best Picture Oscar winner is certainly one of the best, and most powerful war movies on Netflix. Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie, long before their roles as Hawkeye and The Falcon/Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, play two members of a US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit that are trying to get rid of bombs in Iraq in 2004. There are some very tense moments in this movie, but it also has themes of veterans not being able to get over their experiences in combat.
Da 5 Bloods
IMDb rating – 6.5
Sometimes war movies don’t have to be about the obvious military battles. Sometimes they are about battles inside typical soldiers. Spike Lee directed this 2020 movie about a group of Vietnam War veterans who return to the county in their present day. Their goal? To find a hidden cache of gold they retrieved in Vietnam, and also to honor one of their lost soldiers, played in flashback by the late Chadwick Boseman. It’s one of the best war movies on Netflix you can watch.
IMDb rating – 7.3
This movie is based in a much older era, but it is still about war. It follows the story of Hal, also known as King Henry V. After trying to escape royal life for most of his life, he is forced to take the throne after his father dies. The rightful heir to the throne must now deal with politics and everything that comes with ruling. He is also found in the middle of a war his tyrannical father left behind. The leader needs to adapt to the new life while he settles personal matters.
IMDb rating – 7.1
Some war movies don’t have to center on soldiers. In this 2016 film, the story is all about two young civilians, plays by Jonah Hill and Miles Teller, who become very busy, and highly rich arms merchants. This satire about war and arms dealing shows that battles with armies and guns can also be a very lucrative, and also highly illegal, business venture.
IMDb rating – 6.4
This is a very recent original war movie on Netflix, released in 2019. Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal all play members of a former US Special Forces team who feel they need a new challenge. The result is that this five-man team decides to steal money from a major drug lord. However, getting the money is easy compared to the team getting out of the country alive as they are attacked by the crime lord’s forces. It’s an action-packed movie that is pure popcorn fun if you love fast-paced films.
IMDb rating – 6.3
This 2016 war movie is perhaps the most “out there” war film on the streaming service. Spectral has a US special forces team enter the war-torn country of Moldova. However, instead of normal human soldiers, this team has to face off against ghost-like entities. Yes, this is a ghost war movie, but it’s also pretty action-packed and fun to watch. It really gets going in the second half, as the US forces, with some help from scientists, create weapons designed to fight off the ghosts.
Here are a few more war movies on Netflix that didn’t quite make the cut to the main list:
- Zero Dark Thirty – This movie, by the director of The Hurt Locker, looks at the quest to find and then kill the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden by the US. It’s a little bit thriller movie, a little bit historical drama, and a lot awesome.
- Company of Heroes – If you love old-fashioned war movies, check out this 1967 classic film about Army convicts in WWII who are given one last chance to redeem themselves in combat.
- Ghosts of War – War movies merge with horror in this tale of a group of soldiers in WWII who enter a chateau and quickly discover that it’s very haunted.
- Red Snow – This movie centers on a Canadian soldier in present-day Afghanistan who gets captured by enemy forces.
- Battle: Los Angeles – This movie focuses on a modern-day squad of US Marines that are fighting off an alien invasion in the city of Los Angeles.
That’s it for our list of the best war movies on Netflix! We’ll update this post with new films once they are released.