Best Military Movies of All Time
Content creators can share stories that demonstrate the true nature of humanity. Filmmakers, writers, and actors bring military movies to life while capturing the harsh realities servicemembers and veterans experience at home and during combat. Based on true events or not, these military-themed films cast a reflection on the real cost of war and illustrate how nations and cultures around the world can be destroyed.
If you’re looking for an epic war story that’ll leave you at the edge of your seat filled with drama, a high rise of emotions, and a bold view of what combat feels like, below is list of the greatest military movies ever made.
Keep in mind, this list is in no particular order. We’re just giving you a run-down of some of our favorite classics along with a few non-traditional selections. Although you won’t see the Star Wars franchise here, you may learn that many of these movies are played by celebrities that served in the military.
So, grab your popcorn and favorite beverage while Empire Resume takes you on a trip to the movies!
We Were Soldiers (released in 2002)
We Were Soldiers featuring Mel Gibson, tells the story of the first part of the Vietnam War and the soldiers who fought in 1965. He tells the story of the courage, bravery, and dignity of these men in this movie made in their honor.
It’s safe to say this movie accurately sets the tone and spirit of what it felt like to be a part of the war from a soldier’s point of view and the wives as well.
- Storyline: Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore prepares his men for the first battle of the Vietnam War, while their loved ones, specifically their wives, endure the brutal task of awaiting the outcome. Although there were many casualties, Hal Moore was the last soldier to leave the battlefield.
Platoon (released in 1986)
Platoon is a Vietnam war movie that demonstrates how a disagreement between troops can lead to fighting two battles – one with your own teammates, and one with the enemy.
- Storyline: A young man by the name of Chris Taylor, leaves college and volunteers for combat duty in the Vietnam War.
While struggling for his survival on the battleground, he realizes he is caught in two distinct battles. He experiences conflicts in his unit between Staff Sergeant Barnes, and Sergeant Elias, due to illegal killings of nearby villagers.
Glory (released in 1989)
Glory is a good military movie with outstanding cinematography. It possesses powerful storytelling and shows the bravery of black soldiers, with an Oscar-winning performance by Denzel Washington.
The movie also stars Morgan Freeman a U.S. Air Force veteran. To this day, it remains one of the finest civil war movies ever filmed.
- Storyline: During the Civil War, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw is granted command over the first all African American regiment of the United States Army, also known as the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.
Col. Shaw, together with junior officer Cabot Forbes, puts together a sturdy and proud unit, including the wise gravedigger John Rawlins and escaped slave, Private Trip.
They experience distrust, prejudice, and casualties as they train for the Battle of Fort Wagner in South Carolina, sacrificing their lives for freedom.
Men of Honor (released in 2000)
Men of Honor is an ideal military movie with a powerful storyline. It highlights the sheer determination of Carl Brashear, the first man of color to be a Navy Master Diver, and his relationship with trainer Master Chief Billy Sunday, played by Robert De Niro.
Though he faced many challenges, Carl successfully achieves his ultimate goal, which brings both men together in an unforeseen way.
- Storyline: This story revolves around Carl Brashear, a young black naval Petty Officer in training, who is determined to become the world’s ever first African American Navy Master Diver.
This will not be an easy task for Brashear, as his trainer, Master Chief Billy Sunday, and shipmates, wants to see him go down the path of failure. This takes all of Brashear’s strength, determination, and endurance to make history and finally earn respect from his fellow sailors.
Black Hawk Down (released in 2001)
Black Hawk Down is a more accurate portrayal of modern war. It tells a powerful and relevant story in an almost faultless example of war.
- Storyline: The movie takes place in 1993 when the U.S. Security Council authorizes a military operation into Somalia with a peacekeeping mandate. This mission was to destabilize the Somalian government, so the U.S. can bring humanitarian aid and food to the starving population.
Using Black Hawk helicopters in the mission to lower down troops onto the ground, Black Hawk Super 6-1 and one other is shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. On the ground, the U.S. Marines from the Black Hawk struggle to regain their balance while enduring huge gunfire.
American Sniper (released in 2015)
American Sniper is a popular military movie based on real-life events. It shows how Chris Kyle takes his tours seriously in protecting his comrades, making it an ideal movie to watch.
- Storyline: Chris Kyle is a United States Navy SEAL who takes his mission in protecting his comrades to heart. He eventually becomes one of the deadliest snipers in American history.
His pinpoint accuracy does not only save lives but makes Chris a key target of insurgents. He was dispatched to Iraq after the 9/11 attacks and assigned to hunt an Al-Qaeda commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
In his mission, he encounters an Al-Qaeda’s sniper, Mustafa, who becomes a major threat to Kyle. Sniping against Kyle’s unit and U.S. Army combat engineers, Mustafa is successfully killed by Chris on his fourth tour in Iraq.
The Hurt Locker (released in 2008)
The Hurt Locker is an action-packed military movie focused on the Iraq War. It depicts an Army soldier’s love for his military assignment of supervising a bomb disposal team. Not only being passionate about his soldierly services, the movie reveals his true character as he puts his duties before himself and risks his life during unpleasant situations.
- Storyline: Sergeant First Class First Class Will James arrives as a new unit leader of the United States Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal in Iraq. He replaces a well-respected Staff Sergeant by the name of Matthew Thompson, who was killed by an improvised explosive device, in the line of duty in Baghdad.
Being one of the most dangerous military jobs during war times, James shows love for his country with his risk-taking ability.
A Few Good Men (released in 1992)
If you love court TV, you’ll enjoy A Few Good Men. It’s an amazing courtroom drama movie that fuses the law and military service together. The movie is known for the famous phrase, “You can’t handle the truth!”
- Storyline: This story covers two U.S. Marines who have been court-martialed due to attacking and killing a fellow Marine at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
Taking Chance (released 2009)
Based on a true story, this movie takes you on a soul-searching journey. It shows what it means to truly take a chance and honor the life of a fallen military hero who was just about to reach his 20th birthday.
- Storyline: Marine Lance Corporal Chance Phelps was 19 years old when he was killed while on active duty in Iraq. While his remains are being prepared for a final journey back home, Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, a volunteer military escort officer, accompanies his fallen military brother back to his hometown in Dubois, Wyoming.
Lone Survivor (2013)
Lone Survivor is an accurate military movie that has and is being praised for its realism. It has been named one of the finest realistic modern warfare movies of all time.
Providing much of its authenticity, writer and director, Peter Berg, worked closely with Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell making the movie unique.
- Storyline: Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell is the lone survivor of the Afghanistan 2005 mission, tasked to kill or capture a top Taliban commander Ahmad Shah.
Shah is responsible for the death of over 20 U.S. Marines, as well as refugees and villagers who were aiding American troops. In response to these killings, a Navy SEAL team is ordered to conduct a counter-insurgent mission to neutralize Ahmad Shah.
Inserted in the Afghan Hindu Kush region for their counter-insurgent mission, things go sideways as they are unintentionally discovered by local goat herders, who will alert the Taliban of their presence. They decide to abort the mission. On their way back, they are attacked by Taliban forces, leaving Marcus as the lone survivor of the mission.
Movies Can Show You What Military Service Is Like
There are several military movies, and unfortunately, we cannot list them all. But after watching our recommendations, you may get a feel for what it’s like to be in the military or what it’s like to be deployed.
Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.