Been a while since I did a list, so, in honor of my obsession with Battlefield Play4Free, here are my top five war movies.
Heartbreak Ridge (1986) – Because of this movie, I almost joined the Marines. Had I not had a pathological hatred of Jarheads (they invaded my high school and took all the hot chicks), I might have been in a Recon platoon. As it was, the story, characters and technical details of this movie make it an instant classic. One of Clint’s most quotable non-western films, too.
The Wild Geese (1978) – Mercenaries in Africa on a mission to rescue a political prisoner. This movie has got it all. Cool characters, a bit of spy-noir at times, superior action, intrigue, danger, and betrayal. And in the end, there are even some tears. For pure military action, you just don’t get much better than this. I’ve never been a fan of Roger Moore as James Bond, but in this role he stands out.
A Bridge Too Far (1977) – A semi-fictional account of Operation: Market Garden, the largest Allied Airborne operation in WWII, the cast alone makes this movie worth watching. Add to that some real stunning action, heart-wrenching battle scenes, and more paratroopers than you can shake a Nazi stick-grenade at. I used to don my old red beret while watching this movie. Nothing brings out my Airborne pride like this one.
Platoon (1986) – Probably Oliver Stone’s best movie, this is the story of a young college kid who volunteers for Vietnam. While there he meets an outrageous cast of characters. And although no unit ever had all of them, every one of those characters probably really existed somewhere. This was Vietnam; the black stain on our military history. But told with heart and guts. Nevermind the politics of the war, the boys who fought it deserve respect.
Saving Private Ryan (1998) – I admit, I have a thing for WWII movies. That’s probably due to the romanticized representation of the era that Hollywood has always given us. This movie takes that view, and makes it brutally real. From the moment you’re taken to the beaches of Normandy, all the way to the last stand, there are moments in this movie that will stay with you forever. Sometimes I get chills just thinking about some of the scenes.
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) – I would classify this movie as more “action” than “war.” Otherwise it might have made the list. This film was highly influential on me, and I regard it as one of the main reasons I joined the Army as an Airborne Infantryman after high school. And although it seems almost hokey nowadays, I still hold a special place for this entire series in my heart.
Full Metal Jacket (1987) – Admittedly, I only watch about the first 45 minutes of this film. The basic training segment is brilliant, and R. Lee Ermey is amazing. Funny thing is, he wasn’t really acting that much. He was basically playing himself. After they graduate I turn it off. Because at that point it becomes just another Vietnam film. And after the emotional roller coaster of that first 45 minutes, I don’t usually have it in me to watch the rest.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – I classify this as a “superhero” movie, but it definitely captures the spirit and feel of the old Hollywood WWII epics perfectly. This movie does a great job of blending history with comic book mythology. The acting is superb, and the sets and action are amazing. This is currently my #1 favorite movie. But, I may be a little biased.