Recently, I've been on a military and war movie kick. Whether they are the most popular films out there, or ones that are overlooked, I've been on the hunt for some new movies to add to my favorites list. In the past couple of weeks, I have watched several movies on Netflix that are based on war and military personnel, and have compiled this list of my top five recommendations.
1. "Full Metal Jacket"
This film follows a group of new U.S. Marine Corps recruits as they go through basic training at Parris Island during the Vietnam War, as well as their involvement in the war after graduation. The first half of this movie was absolutely made by the performance of Lee Ermey, former military drill instructor, who played the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. This part of the movie touches on the grueling weeks of training that the recruits must endure to earn the title United States Marine, while also demonstrating the negative toll that this kind of environment can take on a person. As far as the second half of the movie goes, it is very intense and filled with action. Additionally, there seems to be an underlying question of the morality of the Vietnam War, especially in the movie's final moments. Overall, the film was incredibly well done, and I highly recommend this classic to anyone who has not yet seen it.
2. "Camp X-Ray"
For all of you that are going to pre-judge this movie because you don't like Kristen Stewart, just give it a try. This film follows a female prison guard in the U.S. Army (Kristen Stewart) during her time stationed at Guantanamo Bay, a prison for suspected Islamic terrorists. Despite the fact that every guard is told not to speak to detainees, this soldier does just that, and ends up forming a bond with one of them, who claims he is innocent though he has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for over eight years. This movie contains the least action out of all of the movies on this list, but the story it tells is incredibly impactful. It will both warm your heart and break it, while also provoking thoughts and questions about morality. I would highly recommend this film to anyone interested in semi-current events and military history.
3. "Sand Castle"
Private Ocre joined the Army Reserves to help pay for his future college education, never thinking he would actually see combat. Now, his unit is being sent to a small village in Iraq to repair a water pumping station, in the heart of the U.S. occupation there. The way this film depicts the war in Iraq is, in my opinion, very well done. When it comes down to it, none of the participants in this conflict really wanted it to be happening, yet it was ever present. If you want a more action-packed war movie, this is it- it will definitely get your heart pumping, while also bringing a unique perspective to the United States' involvement in foreign affairs.
4. "War Machine"
Another modern-day war film, "War Machine" follows Army General Glenn McMahon (Brad Pitt) as he takes on the task of commanding NATO forces in Afghanistan. This movie is filled with satire and questions about how ego can come into play in war and politics. One thing I enjoyed about this film was that it included insight into how politicians in Washington D.C. are connected to foreign affairs and war efforts made by the United States, especially the President's involvement. Just like "Sand Castle", this film also brings into play questions of the morality of the war, as one Marine in particular even questions the actions they are taking in Afghanistan. Overall, I think this film held a good balance of comedy and seriousness on the topic of war.
5. "Love and Honor"
Unlike the rest of the films on this list, "Love and Honor" is more of a military romance drama. During the Vietnam War, two U.S. Soldiers make a secret trip back to the States when one is on the verge of losing his girlfriend. Once they arrive, they face questions of love, honor, and commitment. This movie doesn't focus so much on the war aspect, but pays a lot of attention to the conflict between the "peace not war" movement going on back home and those who have given their lives over to the war effort at the hands of the draft. I really liked the fact that there were some questions about whether being a draft dodger, or a deserter, was right or wrong. If you like military history, but are more of a romance/drama lover, this one is perfect for you.
Obviously, there are plenty of movies out there about war and military history, but these are just five of the films in this category that I enjoyed watching out of the selections on Netflix. I am considering making another list of my favorite war films of all time, but these are just a few recommendations for now. What are some of your favorite war movies?