5 best Netflix war movies to watch this 4th of July weekend

They celebrate their freedom from the enslavement and cruel rule of tyrants and despots on the Fourth of July by sharing a beer with loved ones. Celebrating independence is important but so is remembering the people who died to grant us this freedom. Netflix does that for us.

These days, it seems as if every war has a film slowly making its own way up to the streaming giant. Indeed, viewers will leave any one of these options with a clearer sense of the cruelty experienced by the soldiers in nut uncomfortable close, and perhaps the appreciation of the peace of their lives should grow all the brighter. Five Best War Movies To Stream For Fourth Of July This Year War Dogs A Million Ways To Die In The West Blood Rider Journey Into Fear!

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

Felix Kammerer as Paul Bäumer in Netflix's "All Quiet on the Western Front."
Netflix

Adapted from the eponymous novel, the American streaming giant’s All Quiet on the Western Front → follows a young German infantryman (Felix Kammerer) whose illusions about war, in contrast to the novel’s protagonist, are gradually stripped through exposure to the human costs of what has come to be known as the Great War. True to the Coen Brothers’ film, the Netflix version joins a succession of top-quality productions since the turn of the millennium that examine the fissuring of the wartime human condition: the dehumanising toll on the combatants themselves as they realise the futility of their existential pursuit to annihilate one another before bursting into a whirlwind of rage and despair.

While the film is in some respects a triumph of the art of cinema, it also contains some of the most disturbing sequences in the history of a war film. Despite the differences with its source material, this contemporary version of a homonym casting delivers this anti-war message with as much punch as any film of its kind, and it deserves to be listened to by as broad an audience as possible.

1917 (2019)

George MacKay as Schofield in a trench in a poster for "1917."
Universal Studios

This First World War movie tells the story of two soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) who have been dispatched to deliver a message that would cancel an attack that would put fellow officers’ lives at risk. The director, Sam Mendes’s use of cinema verité cinematography also makes you feel like the whole film was shot in two very long shots.

But the film is not pure technique, either. Using the lens to convey the confusion and tension of the men in the trenches, The Battle of the Somme served the purpose of memorialising the sacrifice made by real soldiers giving their lives in what was still an undervalued part of the Great War.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Andrew Garfield in "Hacksaw Ridge."
Lionsgate

With his controversial directorial return Hacksaw Ridge, the Hollywood star and auteur Mel Gibson told the true story of an American soldier (played by the Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield) whose pacifist attitude prohibits him from carrying a weapon. He defies his superiors through a series of prayers and bible quotes, before unstrapping his gun and marching out to serve as a combat medic during the Battle of Okinawa.

Many would argue that it is impossible to survive on the frontline without killing, however this film portrays exactly how one man did survive and rescued 75 men – with excellent performances and action sequences. It is an example of how, even at war, one should try to save lives instead of take them.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Tom Cruise in "Born on the Fourth of July."
Universal Pictures

Directed by Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July (1987) is based on the autobiography of Ron Kovic (played by Tom Cruise) who, after serving in the Vietnam War and protesting the conflict after witnessing it in action and losing the use of his legs, and being denied medical care upon returning to the United States maimed and traumatised. War films examine killing, wounds, and deaths in their narrative fabric.

But few have ever done it like he has, showing the raw strain of grief and mistreatment that these veterans bear as the country they gave their lives to turns its back on them and their pain. This double Academy Award-winning film is a must-watch for the way it articulates the hypocrisies about war held by an unenlightened groupism, and how an entire society of youths had their virginity stolen by the machinery churning out this wholesale corruption.

Unbroken (2014)

Jack O'Donnell in "Unbroken."
Universal Pictures

Unbroken, inspired loosely (very loosely) by the true story of Louis Zamperini, an American Olympic track star sent to fight in the Second World War, who survives a plane crash and a long time adrift at sea, before being captured and tortured in a Japanese POW camp, doesn’t even get nearly as far as Zamperini went in his efforts to recover from what the war had done to him. But it’s a film about sacrifice; about fighting for what you believe in.

A gripping (and ultimately inspirational) story of human endurance, audiences can’t help but cheer as this real-life Everyman survives the ultimate physical horrors with his conscience intact. All it takes is that one scene of Zamperini being held against the plank at gunpoint to etch this movie into people’s memories.

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