Adventure Movies

Best War Movies on Netflix Right Now (October 2023)

October 24, 202319 Mins Read

From patriotic films and public service announcements to retellings of historical events, the subject of war in cinema has evolved into a genre of its own and is now an important artistic expression of people and politics. But why are war movies so popular among viewers, filmmakers, and critics alike? It’s not because anyone wants to see the atrocities that wars bring with them but because we want to see the story behind the scenes and be somewhere we haven’t been or learn something that no one should ever have to experience directly in real life.

Most of the time, war movies gain popularity among fans not just for the heroism or the glorified portrayal of events but for the atmosphere they create. War movies, as grim as they might be, are a way of turning the most horrific acts of human society into a compelling and immersive work of art. It recreates history for future generations and evokes empathy, pushing us to be better as a species. Stories of war make its machinations more humanized for us, bring us closer to things we often distance ourselves from, and give us a different perspective.

This genre of movies has a very special place in filmmaking and finds fans across all categories. So, we did some digging and found these titles that you cannot miss. Here’s a list of the best war movies you can watch on Netflix right now. In this list, there are heroic sacrifices, psychological struggles, political conspiracies, historical events, and more. Whether you are a history buff or just eager to learn about the past, these Netflix war movies are sure to fulfill all your entertainment goals.

Editor’s note: This article was updated October 2023 to include Hacksaw Ridge.


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Outlaw King (2018)

chris pine outlaw king
Image via Netflix

Director: David Mackenzie | Runtime: 2 hr 17 min

Cast: Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh, Stephen Dillane

If you need a slice of Scottish history served to you in bloody fashion, Outlaw King is a great follow-up to Braveheart. Anyone who saw Mel Gibson’s Best Picture-winning epic knows how the rebel leader William Wallace perished during the conflict against the English crown, and Outlaw King picks up with a subsequent rebel movement led by Wallace’s close ally, Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine). Bruce gathers a group of loyal lords, and they gradually take back their homeland castle-by-castle. As you might expect, there’s no shortage of brutal combat. Pine re-teamed with his Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie for this fast-paced historical thriller. — Liam Gaughan

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Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss rescuing a fallen soldier from battlefield in Hacksaw Ridge.
Image via Lionsgate Films

Runtime: 2 hr 19 min | Director: Mel Gibson

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey

Winner of two Academy Awards, Hacksaw Ridge tells the inspirational story of Andrew Garfield’s World War II veteran Desmond T. Doss, who, as a medic, became the first man to receive the medal of honor without firing a single bullet. Writers Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight find the true nuance of war, managing to give it a fresh twist without removing the action. Powerfully moving, the film’s award-winning score by Rupert Gregson-Williams beautifully accompanies the narrative, as does Simon Duggan’s awe-inducing cinematography. Despite being a grand depiction of wartorn action, Hacksaw Ridge is, at its heart, a character piece with all the poignancy of a biopic. – Jake Hodges

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Darkest Hour (2017)

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour
Image via Focus Features

Director: Joe Wright | Runtime: 2 hr 5 min

Cast: Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn

Gary Oldman finally took home the Academy Award for Best Actor for his brilliant performance as Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s biopic. Rather than focus on the Prime Minister’s entire life, Darkest Hour shows the critical period involving Churchill’s surprise election into office and the early stages of World War II. It covers similar material to Dunkirk, and shows the political maneuvering Churchill had to handle in order to pull off the daring rescue of British troops from the French coast. Darkest Hour is much more thrilling than what you may expect; Oldman gives the role his all, and shows the subtle moments of humanity as Churchill faces skepticism from opponents that surround him. — Liam Gaughan

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All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

Image via Netflix

Runtime: 2 hrs 23 min | Director: Edward Berger

Cast: Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Aaron Hilmer

Edward Berger directs the Academy Award-winning epic war drama All Quiet on the Western Front, adapted from the timeless novel by Erich Maria Remarque. Starring Felix Kammerer as a naively idealistic soldier thrown into the explosive final days of World War I, All Quiet on the Western Front exposes the harsh foundation of battle. Featuring a stellar performance from Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s Daniel Brühl, as well as a parallel storyline exploring the war-ending armistice negotiations, All Quiet on the Western Front cleverly veers from the original story in Remarque’s books, allowing for hope alongside the brutal horrors of war. – Yael Tygiel

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Outside the Wire (2021)

Image via Netflix

Director: Mikael Håfström | Runtime: 1 hr 55 min

Cast: Anthony Mackie, Damson Idris, Emily Beecham

Outside the Wire is a science-fiction military film that seems little more than an action-packed romp, but it has so much more to say. Set in the near future, Damson Idris plays drone pilot Harp who makes a tactical decision and is subsequently punished for it. For his crimes he’s redeployed and assigned to work with Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie), who is secretly a highly sophisticated android super-soldier. Much of the film rides on Idris and Mackie’s banter and frenemy chemistry. Neither can really trust each other, and it isn’t clear if the audience can either. As most action films of this kind go, there’s a grander conspiracy at play, which is revealed slowly. If Outside the Wire is guilty of anything, it’s that it thoroughly buries the lede! This film has a very important message to send but doesn’t get to it till well into the third act. It’s highly recommended to stick around because the denouement is rewarding. We do suggest caution as this fictional story is set in Ukraine and can be upsetting given the current war in the country. – Monita Mohan

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The King (2019)

Image via Netflix

Director: David Michôd | Runtime: 2 hr 20 min

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Tom Glynn-Carney

Though based on and made as an epic, The King is technically a movie about a historical war. The story is based on William Shakespeare’s Henriad. Adapted from three different plays about Henry IV and Henry V, the plot focuses on Henry V, the eldest son of King Henry IV of England. The prince is an emotionally distant and disenchanted individual, who experiences a turnaround of life and character after his father’s death. Henry must navigate his emotions, royal politics, and the adversaries that his father left behind and become the rightful king that his kingdom expects him to be.

The tone of The King is very classic Shakespearean, as you would imagine. While there’s no constant sword-crossing, there are a couple of significant and historical battles which are quite brutal and make this movie fit well into the war genre.

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Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Image via Netflix

Director: Spike Lee | Runtime: 2 hr 34 min

Cast: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis

There are the usual stories of Vietnam war vets and then there’s Da 5 Bloods. An acclaimed and still underrated movie, to say the least, Da 5 Bloods is a powerful story that would be hard to forget if you watch it once.

Co-written and directed by Spike Lee, the movie follows a group of black Vietnam veterans who reunite in Vietnam after years to search for the remains of their squad leader and a buried treasure they had left behind when they were serving in the war. You may not look at it as a “war story” per se, but this is war-adjacent and shows enough of the struggle and trauma that wars bring to people, even if it’s years later. While the journey of these old war vets reconnecting with their past is very emotional, the performances are the real delight. Also, Chadwick Boseman’s work is something to look out for.

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First They Killed My Father (2017)

Image via Netflix

Director: Angelina Jolie | Runtime: 2 hr 16 min

Cast: Sreymoch Sareum, Kompheak Phoeung, Socheata Sveng, Dara Heng, Kimhak Mun

Loung Ung, a Cambodian-American author and human rights activist, penned her personal experience as a little girl during the Khmer Rouge regime in her book First They Killed My Father. The eponymous movie is a cinematic recount of the same incidents that took place in the 1970s, during the Vietnam War. When Ung was seven years old, her parents and siblings were sent to labor camps and she was forced into training as a child soldier for the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer-language biographical historical thriller, directed by Angelina Jolie, explores the traumatic events in Ung and her family’s life in the camps and how she and some of her siblings manage to escape and eventually reunite.

Although the movie is a dramatized retelling of the true story, the struggles of Ung and her family as depicted are quite horrific and painful. But at the same time, it also gives a first-person insight into the events of the Vietnam war, parts of which are still unknown to many.

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Too Young the Hero (1988)

Image via CBS

Director: Buzz Kulik | Runtime: 1 hr 37 min

Cast: Ricky Schroder, R. Pickett Bugg, Jon DeVries, Rick Warner, Mary-Louise Parker

Another war movie based on true events, Too Young the Hero is a fictional retelling of the life of Calvin Graham, who was jailed as a deserter after becoming a WWII hero. Graham is also known to be the youngest American serviceman to serve and fight in WWII.

Set in 1942, this historical war drama film follows a 12-year-old Graham, who joins the United States Navy in Houston. Though he is only 12, he looks older than his age and he forges his mother’s signature to enlist in the navy. After completing basic training, he is assigned to the USS South Dakota to fight the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. But after the war, things take a bad turn when his officers learn the truth about his age and send him to a military prison. The story is told through a series of flashbacks to all the events that led Graham to prison. There are many elements in this movie that makes it a great watch – the story of a young boy doing the most daring thing one could imagine, wanting adventure in his life, a soldier fighting at all costs for his country, and a man fighting for his truth.

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War Machine (2017)

Image via Netflix

Director: David Michôd | Runtime: 2 hr 2 min

Cast: Brad Pitt, Anthony Michael Hall, Anthony Hayes, Topher Grace

There is nothing humorous about war but sometimes, the best way to understand the most complex and brutal things is to add some humor to them. War Machine is such a movie. The satirical, dark war comedy is set to the backdrop of the Afghanistan war and is based on the non-fiction book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan by Michael Hastings.

The plot follows madcap four-star U.S General Glen MacMahon, played by Brad Pitt, who is sent to Afghanistan with a mission to end the war. The catch is he can’t request more troops but MacMahon goes ahead and decides to recruit 40,000 additional troops. His decision leads to a series of unpredictable consequences, including press coverage and an exposé that discredits him and jeopardizes his mission. The movie is a dramatized and fictionalized account of the events of Hastings’ book with MacMahon’s character derived from U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal. With its quirky, tongue-in-cheek narrative, this movie is sure to make you look at the whole concept of war in a different way. And of course, there’s a subtle lesson at the end.

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The Siege of Jadotville (2016)

Image via Netflix

Director: Richie Smyth | Runtime: 1 hr 48 min

Cast: Jamie Dornan, Mark Strong, Mikael Persbrandt, Jason O’Mara

Based on the 2005 book The Siege of Jadotville: The Irish Army’s Forgotten Battle by Declan Power, this action-drama war film explores the Irish Army’s role in a UN peacekeeping mission in Congo. The story is set in 1961 when a small unit of the Irish Army is stationed in the mining town of Jadotville in Congo to hold off the civil war following the death of the Congolese Prime Minister. The unit, led by Connor Cruise O’Brien (Mark Strong) fights the local mercenaries and Katangese forces for five days before Jadotville is sieged. What happens after that is exactly why you need to watch this movie. Highly acclaimed and well-received among fans and critics, The Siege of Jadotville exposes you to the brutality of war and is a reminder of a significant historical event that might otherwise have been forgotten.

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Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Image via Netflix

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga | Runtime: 2 hr 17 min

Cast: Idris Elba, Kurt Egyiawan, Jude Akuwudike, Emmanuel “King King” Nii Adom Quaye

Award-winning filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga, of No Time to Die and True Detective fame, directed and wrote this war drama movie adapted from the eponymous novel by Uzodinma Iweala. Beasts of No Nation is a war movie in all senses of the phrase, featuring endless battles.

It follows a young boy named Agu in a small region in West Africa in the middle of a horrifying civil war. As the war tears his country apart, Agu is forced to join a team of rebels and is trained as a child soldier to fight in the war. The rebel leader takes Agu and his fellow soldiers down a violent and bloody path. Like most of Fukunaga’s works, this story will leave you with a nightmarish feeling, empathizing with the trauma that the young child soldiers experience in such war-torn regions.

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Sand Castle (2017)

Image via Netflix

Director: Fernando Coimbra | Runtime: 1 hr 53 min

Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Logan Marshall-Green, Henry Cavill

The story of this movie is taken directly from the personal experiences of its writer, Chris Roessner. Sand Castle revolves around Private Matt Ocre (Nicholas Hoult), a young soldier in the United States Army who is stationed in Baghdad during the Iraq War. Ocre is assigned the task of restoring the water supply in a small village but his mission is not as simple as he thought. The events that follow are terrifying and emotional at the same time. With convincing performances by the cast members and a powerful story, this Netflix original movie promises a good watch.

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The Photographer of Mauthausen (2018)

Image vis Netflix

Director: Mar Targarona | Runtime: 1 hr 50 min

Cast: Mario Casas, Alain Hernandez, Macarena Gomez, Mac Rodriguez

Another movie based on real-life events, this Spanish historical biography drama retells the true story of Spanish photographer and civil war veteran Francisco Boix during his time at the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp complex in Austria. The movie is centered around Boix (Mario Casas), a prisoner at the Nazi concentration camp in Mauthausen, and his attempts to collect and save photographic evidence of what happens inside the camp. From the horrific treatment of millions of innocent Jews to all the atrocities committed by the Nazi officers, the photographer records it all. Boix and his fellow prisoners risk their lives and do anything to hide the negatives from the officers and other people who would want it all gone.

The Photographer of Mauthausen is a moving story of one man trying to fight for justice and an insight into the dreadful realities of life in those camps.

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Virunga (2014)

Image via Netflix

Director: Orlando von Einsiedel | Runtime: 1 hr 45

Virunga is about a war fought by people against people. But it is also about a war to save nature. The British documentary film focuses on the conservation efforts of park rangers at the Virunga National Park in Congo.

Amidst the violent M23 Rebellion (a local rebellion against government forces) in the Democratic Republic of Congo that took place in 2012, four people fight to protect the national park, which is home to the world’s last mountain gorillas. The forest and its inhabitants are threatened by war, poaching, and oil interests. Three park officers and an investigative journalist get together to save the animals and their home. This feature explores the complex political and economic issues of the country while giving you a straight look into the endless natural beauty and biodiversity of this region, making you realize how we often forget the planet while fighting for our social and political needs.

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The Silent War (2019)

Image via Netflix

Director: Alfonso Cortés-Cavanillas | Runtime: 2 hr 8 min

Cast: Asier Etxeandia, Marian Álvarez, Hugo Silva, Aitor Luna

The Silent War (titled Sordo in Spanish) is a war movie about a deaf revolutionary soldier. Set in 1944, during the Spanish Revolution, the story is adapted from the eponymous graphic novel Sordo by David Muñoz and Rayco Pulido. Though most of the story is fiction, some events of the Spanish Civil War relate to real-life events.

The events in the movie take place around the end of World War II. The relentless fight of the Resistance and the Allied forces has finally pushed Nazi occupation out of France. While everyone is celebrating the victory, a Spanish guerilla group decides to overthrow dictator General Franco and reclaim their homeland. The sabotage mission fails, leaving all but two of them dead. One of them gets arrested while the other loses his hearing and goes on the run for his life from the military. The (Silent) War is an intriguing war drama with an intimate look into one character’s journey and how his life takes a bad turn, leaving him with nothing but his fate.

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Goyo: The Boy General (2018)

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Director: Jerrold Tarog | Runtime: 2 hr 35 min

Cast: Paulo Avelino, Carlo Aquino, Mon Confiado, Epy Quizon

Goyo: The Boy General, or simply known as Goyo, is a Filipino historical war film about Gregorio “Goyo” del Pilar, a general of the Philippine Revolutionary Army. Goyo was one of the youngest generals during the Philippine–American War, who fought in the Battle of Tirad Pass and died a hero.

The movie follows his life story after the assassination of General Antonio Luna when he is tasked with removing Luna’s supporters. Goyo (Paulo Avelino) is a young and brash general and a favorite of the President. He and his unit, including his best friend and his brother, set out on their mission while also fighting the American forces. The biopic explores the rise of a young general and gives you a peek into some lesser-known but significant historical events from this part of the world.

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Heneral Luna (2015)

Image via Quantum Films

Director: Jerrold Tarog | Runtime: 1 hr 58 min

Cast: John Arcilla, Mon Confiado, Arron Villaflor, Joem Bascon, Archie Alemania

If you have watched or are watching Goyo, then you might want to watch Heneral Luna as well. In fact, this movie could be considered sort of a precursor to Goyo even though it’s not an official sequel. In fact, Goyo was made because of the success of Heneral Luna by the same director, Jerrold Tarog.

Heneral Luna is also based on true historical events and characters. The biopic follows the rise and fall of General Antonio Luna and his leadership of the Philippine Revolutionary Army. During the Philippine-American War, Luna faces immense resistance from his own people and countrymen, while fighting for freedom for his nation. The biopic was critically acclaimed for its narrative, screenplay, cinematography, and also great acting from the cast.

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Paskal (2018)

Image via Netflix

Director: Adrian Teh | Run Time: 1 hr 55 min

Cast: Hairul Azreen, Ammar Alfian, Henley Hii, Jasmine Suraya Chin, Tiger Chen Hu

This Malaysian military action movie is inspired by the principal special operations force of the Royal Malaysian Navy – PASKAL. The plot is based on real-life events that the team encountered during a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Angola.

In 1998, Laurel 11, a Malaysian supertanker, is hijacked by Somalian pirates on the Gulf of Aden. The Royal Malaysian Navy picks up the distress signal and sends out the elite PASKAL unit to rescue the seized tanker. A game of strategic warfare involving swift and stealthy tactics ensue. The movie has been well-received among fans for its strong narrative, close-to-reality military events, and impressive action sequences. That makes it worthy enough to add to your watchlist.

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Father Soldier Son (2020)

Image via Netflix

Director: Catrin Einhorn, Leslye Davis | Run Time: 1 hr 39 min

An American war documentary movie, Father Soldier Son is about the effects of war on a soldier and his family. The film follows Brian Eisch and his family, who is featured in the documentary. Eisch was a Sgt. First Class in the United States Army and deployed in Afghanistan for six months. A single father of two young boys, Eisch is close to his sons and when he is away at war, his children go through an emotional time. But soon, Eisch is reunited with his family and tries to pick up from he left off. The film explores his fear of how war experiences changed him and how that affects his children.

Wounded and emotionally lost, Eisch navigates his changing psychology, post-war trauma, and his role as a father. A beautiful story of a soldier’s journey of love, loss, and redemption, Father Soldier Son is an insight into what soldiers go through after a war and is sure to tug at your heartstrings.

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