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15 Best War Movies On Amazon Prime [December 2021]

War movies are a key part of the cinematic landscape. Glory, tragedy, and the complicated dilemmas of battle and its aftermath are explored in these sterling films, which have been made for over a century. Indeed, the war film is as old as film itself, and has grown alongside its medium in technical advancement, thematic maturity, and visual intensity.

With so many fantastic war movies available, where's a cinephile meant to start? Amazon Prime boasts plenty of options, whether you're looking for a straightforward historical epic, an anti-war black comedy, a documentary about the military-industrial complex, or an all-out spoof. Whatever you're interested in, we've got you covered with this list of the 15 best war movies currently available on Amazon Prime.

Updated on November 24, 2021: Amazon Prime is constantly updating its movie library with new classics, old favorites, and intriguing indies. We'll be keeping this list updated, so that you'll always know what's available. Be sure to check back every month for the boldest and most brilliant war movies available on the platform.

Atonement

"Atonement," based on the novel by Ian McEwan, boasts an enormous emotional landscape. The film follows three intersecting lives through a period of several years, eventually reaching its climax in the early years of World War II. Though much of "Atonement" is bound up in romance and family drama, director Joe Wright's war scenes absolutely soar. This is a stirring meditation on the costs of conflict, both mortal and spiritual.

Black Book

Director Paul Verhoeven broke a six-year filmmaking drought when he released "Black Book." Like all Verhoeven productions, it's a captivating journey. The story of a Dutch-Jewish woman who becomes a spy during World War II, "Black Book" earned sparkling acclaim. Much of this is due to Carice van Houten's mesmerizing performance, which blends human frailty with ironclad fortitude.

  • Starring: Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman
  • Director: Paul Verhoeven
  • Year: 2006
  • Runtime: 145 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

Born on the Fourth of July

Just three years after releasing "Platoon," Oliver Stone finished yet another masterpiece about the Vietnam War. Based on Ron Kovic's searing memoir, this film attempts to chart the course of a wartime life — and what happens when that life carries over into peacetime. The result is an essential Stone film, and an all-star performance from Tom Cruise.

  • Starring: Tom Cruise, Kyra Sedgwick, Raymond J. Barry
  • Director: Oliver Stone
  • Year: 1989
  • Runtime: 145 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Catch-22

Joseph Heller's seminal novel, "Catch-22," isn't the most obvious candidate for a movie adaptation. Readers of the 1960s were likely surprised to hear it was coming to a silver screen near them. But director Mike Nichols found a way to make it work, and the result is one of cinema's greatest war films. Ambitious, well-crafted, and blackly funny, "Catch-22" explores the bizarre reality denizens of a Mediterranean base inhabit. World War II isn't frequently portrayed as absurd, as it is here — perhaps because everyone knows they can't do better than "Catch-22."

  • Starring: Alan Arkin, Bob Balaban, Martin Balsam
  • Director: Mike Nichols
  • Year: 1970
  • Runtime: 122 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

The Devil's Rock

Sometimes war films are set up not as straightforward pictures about historical events but as backdrops for something else entirely, including all-out genre bloodfests. Which brings us to "The Devil's Rock," a New Zealand-made film that imagines what might've happened if, on the eve of the D-Day invasion, an intrepid group of soldiers uncovered a Nazi plot to unleash a demon that could turn the tide of the war. Part war film, part horror adventure, fans of movies like "Overlord" and "Hellboy" should definitely seek this one out.

  • Starring: Craig Hall, Matthew Sunderland, Gina Varela
  • Director: Paul Campion
  • Year: 2011
  • Runtime: 86 minutes
  • Rating: NA
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 56%

A Farewell to Arms

Ernest Hemingway's classic tale of love amid the carnage of World War I is brought to the screen in this excellent adaptation. The story of an American ambulance driver (Cooper) and an English nurse (Hayes) who fall in love, this film cuts much of Hemingway's cynicism out of its grand romance. While hardcore fans might not like this, "A Farewell to Arms" is so well made, it still ranks among the best adaptations of the author's work.

  • Starring: Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou
  • Director: Frank Borzage
  • Year: 1932
  • Runtime: 88 movies
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Flying Tigers

During World War II, Hollywood churned out a number of war films that were more or less explicitly designed to pump up American morale through tales of heroism, adventure, and triumph. "Flying Tigers," which stars John Wayne as the leader of the eponymous squadron, is one of these films. It's a fascinating watch with that hindsight in mind and a breathtaking adventure unto itself.

  • Starring: John Wayne, John Carroll, Anna Lee
  • Director: David Miller
  • Year: 1942
  • Runtime: 102 minutes
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

Gallipoli

Directed by the legendary Peter Weir and starring a young Mel Gibson, "Gallipoli" provides the Australian perspective on World War I. What begins as a classic tale of two idealistic young men hoping to prove themselves through battle soon becomes a meditation on what drives people to volunteer to fight in the first place. "Gallipoli" isn't interested in easy answers, making it a truly stand-out tale of the battlefield.

The Hunt for Red October

Cold War films are very often spy movies, not war movies, but "The Hunt for Red October" is a classic example of the two sensibilities merging, with fantastic results. The first of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan thrillers and directed by "Die Hard" helmer John McTiernan, "Red October" follows a CIA analyst as he uncovers a Russian submarine captain's plot to defect with a top-secret new submarine and evade the forces in hot pursuit. The result is one of those movies you just have to stop and watch every time it's on cable. It's that addictive.

Journey's End

Based on a classic play of the same name, "Journey's End" brings a scintillating cast together to tell its unforgettable story. We follow a group of British soldiers making their way through World War I, who are forced to play an agonizing waiting game against the German forces. Their complex personalities reveal themselves as the tension mounts: These men are despairing, optimistic, gentlemanly, and utterly lost. When the shelling finally starts, we're fully invested — and all the more ready to have our hearts broken.

  • Starring: Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield, Paul Bettany
  • Director: Saul Dibb
  • Year: 2017
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Platoon

Based on writer-director Oliver Stone's own experiences in the Vietnam War, "Platoon" begins as the story of a single soldier heading into the thick of the fighting. Then Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger show up and make it clear that "Platoon" is a complex examination of the conflict's psychological and spiritual costs. For its power and artistry, "Platoon" won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The Thin Red Line

When you think of great World War II films released in 1998, you probably think of "Saving Private Ryan" first, but Terrence Malick's lush, contemplative, richly textured Pacific Theater drama, "The Thin Red Line," deserves to be remembered just as much. Featuring a massive ensemble cast and a surprisingly patient, even philosophical approach to war narratives, "The Thin Red Line" is a deep, challenging journey into the heart of darkness, and it's well worth the trip.

  • Starring: Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel
  • Director: Terrence Malick
  • Year: 1998
  • Runtime: 170 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Tropic Thunder

Technically, "Tropic Thunder" is not a war film: It's a film about making a war film, based on a Vietnam memoir that turns out to be entirely fictional. But it's still worth talking about here, because it plays with classic war movie tropes to utterly hilarious effect. As  the actors head into the jungle in full military gear, they have no idea what's about to hit them. What ensues is a hilarious skewering of celebrity culture, cinematic cliché, and much more.

The Wall

As the director behind films like "The Bourne Identity" and "Edge of Tomorrow," Doug Liman has established himself as a capable engineer of thrillers. It makes sense, then, that he'd apply his gifts to this particular narrative challenge. "The Wall," an Iraq War thriller, only has three characters — and only two of them appear onscreen. Our two leads are American soldiers who must attempt to escape after being pinned down by an Iraqi sniper. You'll be surprised to see just how far Liman manages to ratchet up the tension with that simple hook.

  • Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena, Laith Nakli
  • Director: Doug Liman
  • Year: 2017
  • Runtime: 88 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

Why We Fight

This documentary takes its name from World War II propaganda, but "Why We Fight" is less a straightforward war film than an examination of how war has influenced American life. Featuring interviews with multiple experts and an in-depth exploration of the 20th century, this fearless film examines just how far the military-industrial complex has pushed the United States into global conflict, with often shocking results.

  • Starring: Joseph Cirincione, William Kristol, Gore Vidal
  • Director: Eugene Jarecki
  • Year: 2005
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%