War films are special kind of action films in that they require the right dose of restraint and display of courage. If a filmmaker can’t balance the two, chances are the film may not work. Film history is replete with great examples of movies based on war — especially, World War II. There have also been many films set with a backdrop of war or the repercussions of it. Long story short, war is a very interesting and attractive cinematic subject.
‘American Sniper’ is one the most recent examples of a well made war film — ‘Dunkirk’ being the other. What are the films that similar to ‘American Sniper’ in terms of story-telling and execution. Here’s the list of films that are our recommendations. You can watch many of these movies like American Sniper on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
12. Black Hawk Down (2001)
Based on the 1999 non-fiction book of the same name by Mark Bowden, the movie tells you how the Captain Mike Steele commands a team of around 100 US Army Rangers who travel to the capital city of Mogadishu to bring down the Somali warlords. After the build-up, it is 100 minutes of a non-stop battle of Somali militiamen against American helicopters and troops. All things considered, get ready for consistent scenes of blood, casualties and graphic content.
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11. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
It is quite different from most of the war movies, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is the true story of Desmond Doss, an army medic who refused to even touch a gun. Director Mel Gibson depicts the story in an intelligible way. You cannot take your eyes off when those battle scenes roll in, it is hard not to get emotional in last stages of this movie. Above all, while being ostracised by fellowmen at first, he went on to save many lives and earned their respect eventually.
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10. A War (2015)
“A War” tells the story of a Danish commander, who accused of civil murder in Afghanistan, while trying to save his squad. It is like a “Hurt Locker” with Danish accents, another approach on the war in the Middle East. The film excellently portrays the massacres of warfare in Afghanistan through the eyes of company commander Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk). He is confronted with questions about survival, morality, death, and life showing that nothing in war is black and white.
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9. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Told from the perspective of the Japanese who fought the battle of Iwo Jima between the United States and Imperial Japan during World War 2, this movie is about loss. While it is just fine as an individual film, but you can obviously watch ‘Flag of Our Fathers’ to know all about the parallels of it. This movie shows the inconsolable human side of the war.
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8. The Hurt Locker (2008)
‘The Hurt Locker’ won six Academy Awards, including the ‘Best Director’ and the ‘Best Picture’. As of 2017, this is the sole film by a female director to win in either of these two categories. Shot in Jordan, it had Iraqi refugees as extras and they worked in the intense heat of Middle East to satiate Bigelow’s goal of originality. A well-crafted scintillating piece of work from Bigelow had been expected since her arrival in the Hollywood, this masterpiece indisputably does the trick!
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7. Fury (2014)
This movie stars Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Scott Eastwood and Jon Bernthal in lead roles, they camp in a tank as they try to fight off Nazis. ‘Fury’ playfully progresses into a heartbreaking climax, you’ll be stunned as the end credits roll in. In the cruel world of war and destruction, this movie will leave you with a striking ray of hope that despite everything, few humans are still good at heart. Brad Pitt again proves he is one of the most versatile actors ever to have stepped in the Hollywood.
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6. Patton (1970)
A foul mouthed, brash, arrogant but battle hardened commander with success, this is the story of US General George S Patton. He was famous for his counterattacking and bold approaches during the war. George C Scott played the titular role, for which he famously refused the academy award for the best actor, making him the first of the two to do so, Marlon Brando being the other for ‘The Godfather’. ‘Patton’ is a biopic and makes a legend out of this American hero who once famously had said, that ‘No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country’.
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5. The Thin Red Line (1998)
To say that Terrence Malick is a genius will be an understatement and an outright insult to his talent. He’s a visionary, leagues ahead of his contemporaries. ‘The Thin Red Line’ rather finely illustrates this. This movie depicts the battle of Mount Austen during the WWII against the Imperial Japanese. Upon its release the critics were divided as some stated this as radically self-indulgent and for some, it was pure brilliance. But on one thing everyone agreed – ‘Every man fights his own war’.
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4. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Spielberg’s master piece and probably a manual on how to shoot war pieces as evidenced by the opening Normandy beach invasion sequence, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is the war film you need to watch. A group’s journey to save that one remaining man from a family which already had lost three sons to the war is poignant as well as gritty. It tells you an eternal fact about life that no matter what you do, this life’s once so you better do everything to earn it.
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3. Platoon (1986)
Platoon is loosely based on director Oliver Stone’s own experiences during Vietnam War. The movie is not only a anti-war film but also a social commentary. The story is told from the perspective of a young idealist soldier named Chris Taylor, (Charlie Sheen), who volunteered for the war and is serving under the command of Sgt. Barnes, played by Tom Berenger. Sgt. Barnes and his followers are the true products of war. They do not flinch at torturing innocent civilians, raping young children and killing the old and the disabled. They were drafted because they are the unwanted and were not born with a silver spoon. The village assault scene in the movie is a reference to the infamous Mai Lai Massacre, where U.S Troops indiscriminately killed 300-400 unarmed civilians including men, women, children and infants.
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2. The Bridge On the River Kwai (1957)
A classic in every sense, this is a satire on the unrighteousness of human nature using the construction of a bridge as a medium. A British officer, at the cost of his men helps in building a bridge which will necessarily help the enemy Japanese army move forward but for him it will serve as a proof of British ingenuity. The moment of despair arrives in the movie where he discovers his own army’s plan to sabotage the bridge by planting explosives. He moves to counter it, only to be thwarted by his men, as the bridge blows to pieces with ‘Madness.. Madness’ echoing all around.
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1. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Released in the year 1987 this Stanley Kubrick war drama is considered as a classic. Here, Kubrick shows what it takes to become a soldier and a cold ruthless killer. Within every man resides good and evil. Which quality prevails itself is determined by how one is raised and perceives the world. The film shows how soldiers are brainwashed with ideas of right or wrong. By injection of words of propaganda, a moral ambiguity is created within the soldier. Once this takes place, it is the job of the soldier to figure out what he is; a killing machine as he has been trained, or a peace bringer to a war-torn nation.
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