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15 Best War Movies On Netflix

War is a popular — and often divisive — subject for cinema to tackle, and it naturally stirs up strong feelings. And when it comes to making movies, that's a good thing. There are some excellent war films in the world, from classic World War II movies to gritty modern-day thrillers to historical epics with swords, muskets, or both. The conflict is built right into the plot, and so are the stakes, which means there's no shortage of compelling stories for filmmakers to tell. And there are always new corners to explore, whether that means looking at civilians on the sidelines or forgotten parts of history.

Updated on December 30, 2021: Netflix is constantly adding new movies and rotating others out of its selection, so we'll be keeping an eye on its changes and making sure this list is as up-to-date as possible and that we go through a wide range of war movie approaches, from the grueling to the inspirational and even to the comedic.


Splashily violent, highly stylized, and visually ambitious, "300" tells the story of the Battle of Thermopylae the way the Spartans themselves would have told it. At its best, it's exciting, pulpy fun, full of slow-mo action shots of endless Spartan heroism. King Leonidas uses his 300 men to make a choke point blocking King Xerxes' army's path. Despite incredible odds and multiple betrayals, the Spartans stand strong. Though their efforts are famously doomed, that doesn't mean they're not worth remembering, and "300" makes the tale unforgettable.

  • Starring: Gerard Butler, David Wenham, Lena Headey

  • Director: Zack Snyder

  • Year: 2007

  • Runtime: 116 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%

Apocalypse Now Redux

"Apocalypse Now Redux" is the expanded version of the famous "Apocalypse Now," a Vietnam War-era journey into violence and a slippery loss of sanity. An Army operative named Willard is sent into the jungle to take out Kurtz, a rogue Special Forces colonel who's practicing his own kind of war — one that's especially ruthless and brutal — and drawing in worshipful followers. Willard's quest to find him will take him through a cross section of horror and revelation. A violent, philosophical, and beautifully shot epic, "Apocalypse Now" is seared into the history of cinema as one of the definitive war movies.

  • Starring: Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen

  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola

  • Year: 1979 (expanded cut 2001)

  • Runtime: 196 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Beasts of No Nation

A painful and unflinching account of a child soldier in the middle of a horrific war, "Beasts of No Nation" is brutal and unforgettable. Young Agu is unable to get safe passage out of his village, and every day, the fighting presses closer. He escapes the slaughter at home only to find himself unwillingly enlisted. He's forced to join in with battles and to murder a captive, and his own commander assaults him. This is all unbelievably dark, but thankfully, the movie is able to find an invaluable ray of hope for Agu.


"Braveheart" doesn't offer up a lot of historical accuracy, but it does provide plenty of epic, invigorating drama. William Wallace grows up in a Scotland controlled by a ruthless English king, whose destructive rule sets him on the path to rebellion. He inspires a wave of followers, who take up arms against King Edward in a brutal series of battles. Wallace's persistent quest for his country's freedom might cost him everything, and "Braveheart" wrings plenty of excitement, tension, and inspiration out of his legend.

  • Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Angus Macfadyen

  • Director: Mel Gibson

  • Year: 1995

  • Runtime: 178 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee's "Da 5 Bloods" has a terrific cast and an energetic — even frenetic — story that deals with not only the Vietnam War but also the lasting effect that combat has on the people involved in it. During Vietnam, five Black soldiers discovered a crashed CIA plane loaded with gold bars. Instead of turning the gold in, they decided to hide it and come back for it later as a kind of repayment for the way their racist superiors used them as cannon fodder. Now, decades later, the four survivors of the "Bloods" are going back to hunt down the lost gold and the body of their beloved commanding officer, who was killed at the site. But going back to Vietnam will plunge them into troubled memories and an equally dangerous present.

  • Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors

  • Director: Spike Lee

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 155 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Eye in the Sky

"Eye in the Sky" offers an unusual, dark, and thoughtful perspective on the realities of modern drone warfare. High-level officers coordinate with specialists, technicians, and undercover agents to get everything in place for a strike on a team of suicide bombers hiding out in Kenya. Ordering an attack on a friendly country is complicated enough, especially when the U.S. and U.K. have to juggle their respective bureaucracies — but the biggest problem may be avoiding the all-too-human collateral damage. "Eye in the Sky" provides an unflinching look at the high-stakes moral dilemmas of contemporary warfare.

First They Killed My Father

Some war movies are inspirational. "First They Killed My Father" isn't one of those films, and it can't be. Based on a memoir, this is a deep and painful exploration of the grisly damage of the Cambodian Civil War and the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. Loung Ung, a young girl, sees her life destroyed by this conflict. Her family is deprived, starved, beaten, and murdered, and she's trained as a child soldier. The fact that this comes from a memoir gives it a strand of hope because we can have faith that Loung Ung will eventually make it out, and the story is handled in a straightforward way, with sharpness and clarity.

  • Starring: Sareum Srey Moch, Phoeung Kompheak, Sveng Socheata 

  • Director: Angelina Jolie

  • Year: 2017

  • Runtime: 136 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

The Guns of Navarone

"The Guns of Navarone" is a rousing World War II epic full of tension and adventure. The Allies need to knock out an island installation of several powerful guns, and when all other attempts fail, they send a small group of highly skilled — but oddly assorted — men to infiltrate the island. It's far from a simple mission, and it gets worse as they're hit by complications and disasters. Threats of capture and betrayal dog them at every turn, and there's no guarantee that they'll prove to be a cohesive unit. In fact, one of these heroes has already vowed to kill another. Plenty of suspenseful action and vigorous suspense make this an all-time classic.

  • Starring: Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn

  • Director: J. Lee Thompson

  • Year: 1961

  • Runtime: 156 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%


Gritty and full of action, "Mosul" brings viewers right into some high-stakes Middle Eastern conflict. Kawa, a young Kurdish police officer, joins up with the Nineveh SWAT team. These are all soldiers who've suffered personal loss at the hands of ISIS, and they want to strike back ... but Kawa isn't allowed to see the whole picture and understand the purpose of every mission. In a haze of secrecy and violence, he has to negotiate the chaos and bloodshed around him as he slowly becomes part of the team. "Mosul" offers a rare window into on-the-ground conflict in Iraq and the reclaiming of Mosul in particular.

  • Starring: Adam Bessa, Suhail Dabbach, Is'haq Elias

  • Director: Matthew Michael Carnahan

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 102 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

The Outpost

"The Outpost" is a visceral experience, one that puts you straight in the inferno of war. It's the dramatized true story of Afghanistan's "Camp Custer," a U.S. outpost surrounded by mountains. It has no higher ground and, effectively, no chance. It's notorious for being a deadly posting, but the men stationed there have to do their best anyway — even when a devastating attack hits. "The Outpost" deftly evokes both the terror of combat and the courage that's necessary in battle, and it packs a huge punch.

  • Starring: Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom

  • Director: Rod Lurie

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 123 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

A Private War

Journalists have essentially always been a part of war — sometimes on the sidelines and sometimes right in the middle of the action. "A Private War" takes conflict coverage as its focus, zeroing in on American journalist Marie Colvin. Passionately committed to seeking out the truth, Colvin goes into extremely dangerous locations, walking into areas torn apart by conflict. After incurring severe physical and psychological damage in the name of the job, Colvin nevertheless remains determined to not let herself be controlled by fear — no matter where that leads her. You shouldn't miss Rosamund Pike's lead performance here.

  • Starring: Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Tom Hollander

  • Director: Matthew Heineman

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 110 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

The Resistance Banker

Every war costs money, and the Dutch film "The Resistance Banker" deals with where that money comes from. Banker Walraven van Hall — Wally, to his friends — puts his safety on the line to fund the Netherlands' resistance to the Nazis. The movie explores multiple angles on Wally's bankrolling, from tense but invigorating-to-watch heist-like schemes to the losses and tragedies. It's a beautifully handled appreciation of a historically important figure whose contributions haven't been discussed often enough, and it also illuminates a part of war that often gets disregarded.

  • Starring: Barry Atsma, Jacob Derwig, Pierre Bokma

  • Director: Joram Lürsen

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 123 minutes

  • Rating: TV-MA

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%


There aren't too many war comedies out there. But occasionally, you get a success story like "Stripes," which infuses all the rigors of Army basic training with Bill Murray's laid-back charm. Murray plays John Winger, whose life hits the skids badly enough for him to enlist alongside his best friend. It would be an understatement to say they're not cut out for the Army, but against all odds, these fun-loving slackers find love and success — and the satisfaction of watching their buffoon of a commanding officer get his just desserts. Goofy, irresistibly watchable, and stocked with some of the best comedians of the '80s, "Stripes" is a nice change from the usual grimness of war.

We Were Soldiers

War is a grim slog and possibly a pointless endeavor in "We Were Soldiers," but the soldiers involved in it — and their loved ones back home — still strive to act with honor, decency, and professionalism. This stirring film follows several soldiers through the start of the Vietnam War. They're mostly Americans, lead by the capable Lt. Col. Hal Moore, but a Vietnamese colonel struggling with the seemingly unending tide of combat is spotlighted as well. While the battles rage, those on the home front attempt to stay strong, focused, and steady.

  • Starring: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear

  • Director: Randall Wallace

  • Year: 2002

  • Runtime: 138 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

The Wolf's Call

This French film is a taut, action-packed military thriller about a submarine officer who has an uncanny knack for identifying other vessels just by sound — something that understandably comes in handy in dark undersea warfare. But to his surprise, he encounters a mystery sub ... one that may, in a tense near-future full of escalating international conflicts, be a sign of impending nuclear war. His obsession with the sub shapes the movie. Finding and stopping it will save his honor, and it may also save the world.

  • Starring: François Civil, Omar Sy, Mathieu Kassovitz

  • Director: Antonin Baudry

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 116 minutes

  • Rating: TV-14

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%