War movies speak straight to our hearts. Irrespective of nationality, language and culture, they have a universal appeal. War is a curse upon humanity and some films often remind us of the pain and horror that it brings to people. But there are several other war movies that are made to display patriotism or convey other political messages. Though their stands on war may vary, one thing that is common in all war movies is their emotional appeal. These films may be pro-war or anti-war, but they take us straight to the center of the action. They show us battlefields where death and life dance together, hand in hand; they reveal human beings who act like gods and devils at the same time. With that said, here’s the list of really good army movies on Amazon Prime that are available to stream right now:
14. Last Days in Vietnam (2016)
The Academy Award-nominated docudrama ‘Last Days in Vietnam‘ chronicles the last few days of the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese city of Saigon is surrounded by the North Vietnamese Army. The terrified South Vietnamese people desperately search for shelters. The Americans on the ground, mostly soldiers and diplomats, face the biggest moral crisis of their lives. Washington has ordered to evacuate all the American citizens from the southern part of Vietnam with immediate effect and the order specifically says ”only American citizens”. If the soldiers and diplomats try to save the Vietnamese people who run for their lives, it will be treason.
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Based on the actual massive evacuation, which is called Operation Frequent Wind, from Saigon, ‘Last Days in Vietnam’ captures the moral crisis, embarrassment and confusion of the American military personnel who are trapped in a war they have nothing to do with. Produced and directed by Rory Kennedy, ‘Last Days in Vietnam’ features interviews of Henry Kissinger, Richard Armitage, Frank Snepp, Stuart Herrington, and Terry McNamara among others.
13. City of Ghosts (2017)
‘City of Ghosts’ takes us to the medieval hell created by ISIS in Raqqa, Syria during the reign of the terrorist outfit. The docudrama follows the Syrian media activist group, ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.’ The volunteer group is formed by some unknown citizen journalists. They risk their lives and families to document and report the ground-level devastation of their country. The group members record each and every atrocities committed by the fanatics who used Raqqa as their de facto capital during the occupation. The reports from the group became the singular and solid evidence for the fact that the people of Raqqa never welcomed the ISIS. In the midst of utter chaos and blackout, the group was the only reliable and credible source of information for the foreign media. ‘City of Ghosts‘ is directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Matthew Heineman.
12. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)
‘Sophie Scholl: The Final Days’ is a historical drama based on the last days in the life of the anti-Nazi German student Sophie Scholl. She was the volunteer of the underground student resistance group, The White Rose. The movie revisits the last six days of Germany’s most famous anti-Nazi activist. With the help of exclusive historical records, the movie follows Sophie’s arrest, interrogation, trial and sentence in 1943. During the Gestapo interrogation, Sophie is accused of the distribution of anti-Nazi leaflets and treason. The 21-year-old young woman never let go off her political will and commitment to the covert volunteer group. Directed by Marc Rothemund, ‘Sophie Scholl: The Final Days’ follows Sophie to the execution chamber after she gets convicted with high treason by the People’s Court and sentenced to death. She was executed on February 22, 1943.
11. Journey’s End (2017)
‘Journey’s End’ is a World War I movie based on the 1928 play ‘Journey’s End’ by R. C. Sherriff. The plot centers on the C Company of the British army stationed near St. Quentin, France during the spring of 1918. The soldiers guard their trenches which lay nearly a hundred yards away from the German trenches. The movie follows an innocent-faced Second Lieutenant Raleigh who arrives in the trenches to join the company. The soldiers are led by the young officer Stanhope, who is stressed out to the point of insanity. The headquarters command them to prepare for a mission which involves a party of two officers and ten men. Their task is to cross the no-man’s-land through German bullets and capture any one of the enemy soldiers alive. Though the mission is suicidal, the soldiers have no other option but to execute the order. The movie directed by Saul Dibb and features Asa Butterfield and Sam Claflin in the lead roles.
10. A Mighty Heart (2007)
‘A Mighty Heart’ is based on the memoir of Mariane Pearl, the widow of Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl. The WSJ journalist was abducted on January 22, 2002, when he went to interview an Islamic fundamentalist cleric in a cafe in Karachi, Pakistan. The couple was preparing to fly to Dubai the next day. Danny never returns and Mariane, his pregnant wife, embarks on a solo search. The Pakistani police, American embassy diplomats and the FBI comb the city for Danny but in vain. Danny’s disappearance sparked a heated debate on America’s role in the region and the plight of other journalists who went missing. Mariane’s solo struggle hit headlines of the global media and Danny is finally shown beheaded in a video by the Islamic fundamentalists. ‘A Mighty Heart‘ is directed by Michael Winterbottom and features Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman and Irrfan Khan in lead roles.
9. Enemy at the Gates (2001)
‘Enemy at the Gate’ is a World War II movie in which two world-class snipers from the Russian and German side find themselves in a stalemate at the heart of a war-torn Stalingrad. Set in the early ’40s, the movie captures the heat and fears of the Battle of Stalingrad. The Germans are at the doorsteps of USSR and the Russians fight for every inch and every corner of their homeland. The Russian sniper Vassili Zaitsev hunts down the Germans from cover. The political officer Danilov boasts off Zaitsev’s number of victims every day, which makes Zaitsev popular on both sides. But the Germans assign König, one of the best shooters on their side, to stop Zaitsev’s killing spree. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game between two sharpshooters who can change the course of the war. ‘Enemy at the Gates’ is directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The movie is based on the 1973 book ‘Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad’ by William Craig.
8. The Flowers of War (2011)
‘The Flowers of War’ centers on one of the most controversial chapters in the second Sino-Japanese war — the rape of Nanking in 1937. The plot follows John, a mortician, who arrives in a church in Nanjing for a priest’s burial. But he finds himself as the only male among a group of convent girls and prostitutes from a nearby brothel, who seek refuge in the church. John shoulders the role of the protector of the women unwillingly. The ruthless Japanese army men prey on native women in the city. Disguising as a priest, he leads the desperate school girls to a safer place, while the prostitutes sacrifice their lives for the girls. ‘The Flowers of War’ is directed by renowned Chinese director Yimou Zhang. The movie received nominations at the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.
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7. Things to Come (1936)
‘Things to Come’ is a black and white sci-fi war film written by the legendary H.G. Wells. The film is set in 1940 against the backdrop of a fictional world war which has torn humanity apart. The war lasts for decades and the world is split into several savage groups. In 1966, a deadly plague kills almost all the population that survived the war. Only a small number of people manage to escape the black death. The massive rebuilding of civilization follows and an organization moves the remaining human population into the newly built underground cities. Humanity starts flourishing again only to witness another violent rebellion against progress and technology. ‘Things to Come’ is directed by William Cameron Menzies and stars Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke, Pearl Argyle, and Margaretta Scott in major roles.
6. The Grey Zone (2001)
‘The Grey Zone’ tells the harrowing tale of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a Hungarian and Jewish physician. He is handpicked by the notorious Nazi physician Josef Mengele as the chief pathologist of Auschwitz. Nyiszli joins the Sonderkommandos, the special squads of Jewish prisoners responsible for helping Germans in the crematoria to dispose of the bodies of their fellow Jews. The movie depicts the excruciating moral predicament of the Sonderkomando Jews. Their dilemma culminated into a first and last armed rebellion of inmates at Auschwitz. A 14-year-old girl miraculously survives the gas chamber and the incident triggers the rebellion in the camp. Saving the girl at any cost becomes an obsession for Dr. Miklos Nyiszli. Directed by Tim Blake Nelson, ‘The Grey Zone’ is based on the book ‘Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account’ written by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli. The movie stars David Arquette, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, and Daniel Benzali in major roles.
5. Downfall (2004)
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‘Downfall’ is a stunning portrayal of the Nazi regime during the Battle of Berlin in World War II. The plot consists of the final days of Adolf Hitler. Nazi Germany is surrounded from all sides by the enemies and the defeat is inevitable. In April 1945, the Red Army reaches the eastern suburbs of Berlin. The Allied forces approach Berlin from the west. In the besieged capital city, Adolf Hitler refuses to accept the apparent defeat and orders his generals to continue their fight until the last man falls. The top German leaders set out to save their heads before the Red Army captures Berlin. Hitler becomes more paranoiac and his loyalists like Joseph Goebbels pledge to die with their Fuhrer. Before the Red Army lay hands on him, Hitler kills himself. The remaining Nazis lay down their arms before the Red Army. ‘Downfall’ is hailed for the direction of Oliver Hirschbiegel and Bruno Ganz’s unforgettable portrayal of Adolf Hitler.
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4. Paths of Glory (1957)
‘Paths of Glory’ depicts the futility of war and the vulnerability of soldiers as the key instruments of any war. The movie is set in the backdrop of World War I. The ambitious and greedy commanding officer General Broulard orders his subordinate to attack a nearby German trench. The subordinate, General Mireau, realizes that the mission is a suicidal one. So he assigns Colonel Dax to execute the attack. Moreover, commanding officer General Broulard has also offered General Mireau a promotion. Colonel Dax senses the danger of the suicidal attack and refuses to execute the order. As expected, the attack goes awry.
After the disaster, General Mireau picks up three random soldiers, one from each company, to press charges of cowardice and court-martial. Dax, a lawyer in civilian life, comes forward to defend the three innocent men. Nevertheless, they are convicted and sentenced to death. ‘Paths of Glory,’ directed by Stanley Kubrick, is an anti-war classic. The movie is based on the novel by Humphrey Cobb and stars Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker and Adolphe Menjou in key roles.
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3. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
‘Hotel Rwanda’ is a historical war movie based on true incidents. The movie unfolds in Rwanda of the early ’90s. The country is ablaze in the heat of a bloody civil war between the native Hutus and Tutsis. More than a million Tutsis are massacred in genocide and the outside world is yet to get a clue about it. Paul Rusesabagina is the manager of a hotel named Des Milles Collines in Kigali. He gives shelter to over a thousand refugees in his building. To make things more complex, Paul is a Hutu and his wife Tatiana Rusesabagina is a Tutsi. Paul manages to hide and save the life of his family and more than a thousand other refugees using his influence, money and connections as the manager of Hôtel des Mille. ‘Hotel Rwanda’ is directed by Terry George. Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo portray the hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina and his wife Tatiana, respectively.
2. Platoon (1986)
‘Platoon’ stands tall as one of the best movies ever made on the Vietnam War. The film tells the tragic tale of human suffering and war brutalities. The plot follows a naive young man, Chris Taylor, who lands in Vietnam with romantic notions of the war. Chris drops out of his college and volunteers for the Vietnam war. But he is treated with indifference and negligence by the other soldiers.
The group has two non-commissioned officers (NCOs) — the short-tempered Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes who is the nightmare of the camp, and the pleasant and supportive Sergeant Elias Grodin who everyone’s favorite. The murder of a native girl during a village raid splits the group into two. As the war grows more devastating, Chris reaches on the verge of a mental breakdown with broken notions of humanity. Directed by Oliver Stone, the movie stars Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Keith David, Kevin Dillion, John C. McGinley, Forest Whitaker, and Johnny Depp. ‘Platoon‘ won the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama.
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1. The Great Escape (1963)
‘The Great Escape’ is a prisoner-of-war saga based on one of the most adventurous prison break attempts in World War II. The movie, which is inspired by a true story, follows a group of POWs who plot to break the defense of an escape proof Nazi prison camp. The prisoners keep the jailers engaged with gags while the group is busy constructing an underground tunnel. Though they manage to get out of the walls, the Nazis hunt them down one-by-one. Out of the 76 inmates escaped, 73 men are recaptured by the Nazis. Around 50 of them are shot dead by the Gestapo.
The movie is based on the real life incident of the mass escape attempt from the Nazi POW camp in Stalag Luft III near the Polish town of Zagan in April 1942. Paul Brickhill, an Australian writer was among the inmates who was involved in the construction of the tunnel. He couldn’t make it with them because of his claustrophobia. Later, Brickhill wrote a firsthand account of the historic prison break which went on to become a bestseller. ‘The Great Escape‘ is directed by John Sturges. The movie stars Steve McQueen, James Garner and Richard Attenborough in the lead roles.
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