With millions of Americans stuck at home amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus known as Covid-19, now’s a good time to catch up on some of the great military movies on Netflix.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got an ever-growing list of movies you’ve been meaning to get to but just haven’t had the time. Between work, taking care of our families, and our social obligations there just aren’t enough hours in most days to squeeze a good movie in. So maybe a little extra quality time with our couches can be one of the few positives about what is otherwise a very stressful situation.
Here’s a short list of five great military movies on Netflix, and why each might be a good pick during your quarantine.
If you like Sci-Fi Action: “Spectral”
This 2016 Netflix Original film takes place in what seems to be the near future, where a special operations team are stuck in a fight for their lives against seemingly supernatural foes that can walk through walls and seem impervious to traditional combat methods (like riddling them with bullets).
This movie does a great job of balancing a serious tone juxtaposed against a fairly silly concept — as a DARPA scientist quickly assembles the Navy SEAL equivalent of a ghostbusters proton pack for the special ops war fighters to use in their fight against the spooky baddies.
This movie is action-packed, with well coordinated stunt sequences and solid special effects. It moves quickly, despite a somewhat complex plot, and will make for a great distraction when you’re starting to feel a bit of cabin fever.
If you like revisionist history: “Inglorious Basterds”
Have you ever played that game with your friends where you talk about what you’d do with a time machine? Somebody always says they’d go back and kill Hitler, right? Well Quentin Tarantino made a whole movie seemingly just to explore that sort of wish fulfillment.
“Inglorious Basterds” has a star studded cast and Tarantino’s signature over-the-top violence, along with a few positively fantastic scenes full of tension, surprise, and a bit of gratuitous murder for good measure. Unlike in real life, where Hitler eventually committed suicide, this movie’s climax includes a cathartic assassination of history’s greatest villain that makes this movie a fun, if not strange, choice for a slow afternoon at home.
If you like being scared: “Outbreak”
The 1995 thriller, “Outbreak” may not normally seem all that scary, but with our current concerns about the spread of a serious virus, “Outbreak” might be a fun exploration of a worst case scenario for those of us that like getting spooked by our media.
The film follows Dustin Hoffman’s Sam Daniels, a scientist assigned to the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and an expert in his field. He and his ex-wife (who holds a similar role at the CDC) work with their teams to try to stop the spread of a fictional Ebola-like virus that, unlike Covid-19, kills everyone it infects.
The movie is ripe with inaccuracies about the military and the infection disease control industry (not to mention the “African” monkey that spreads the disease is only actually native to South America) so some may see this flick as the “Fast and the Furious” of medical movies, but the acting is great, the story is full of tension, and of course, we get a happy ending.
If you like movies about being an Operator: “Triple Frontier”
“Triple Frontier” opened to some fanfare when this Netflix original first started streaming, but the attention didn’t last very long. The star studded cast includes Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Oscar Isaac and more who all play former special operators. The movie doesn’t come right out and say it to my memory, but I recall it being inferred that the characters the movie follows were actually in Delta Force — the most elite Special Forces unit in America’s Army.
The story opens by showing how each of these veterans are working to build a life after their military service, to varying degrees of success. The real meat of the story begins when one of them begins roping the rest of the team into a plot to steal a great deal of money from some seriously bad dudes.
While every veteran can find things to nitpick when it comes to fictional movies like this, for the most part, it’s a pretty fun (if not stressful) ride that sees you really pulling for these guys, even if you can’t help but wince and tell them they’re making some bad decisions along the way.
If you like satire: “War Machine”
Netflix’s “War Machine” stars Brad Pitt as General Glenn McMahon, a military leader that gained fame through his command in Iraq and is then tasked with winning the war in Afghanistan. While McMahon isn’t a real character, many within America’s defense apparatus have drawn comparisons between him and some real-life commanders, causing some real tension within the military community.
Today, as the United States continues to work toward a conclusion of the fighting in Afghanistan, this movie offers some worthwhile fun-poking at America’s red-tape laden war fighting doctrine, and may be too stressful a watch for some that feel the movie isn’t fair to military leadership regarding the war in Afghanistan.
If you can separate yourself from reality-based frustrations, however, this movie is an entertaining depiction of military life, and some of the stuff folks in the military tend not to like about it. As far as military movies on Netflix go, this one is less about action and more about dialogue, but it’s still a pretty fun watch.