Everyone has their own opinion of what makes a good war movie. Unfortunately very few can offer anything of substance.
Yes, I’m talking to you, orange grime Cheeto finger-licking video game player in your momma’s basement. You can kick my ass in Call of Duty but in real life, you’d pee your pants in a kill house live-fire training mission.
So lick the cheese off your fingers and take notes, some man stuff coming at you.
Below is my small contribution to the best war movies of all time. I carefully selected my 10 favorites and put them in no particular order other than my #1 of all time, The Great Escape, at the top.
After serving in the SEAL Teams I find it really hard to sit through most action movies without being overly critical of the tactics. For me sitting through a bad action movie is pure torture. Worse than the Notebook. Worse than ingernails on a chalkboard. And like my old chief would say, fucked up as a football bat.
Top War Movie Pet Peeves
- Sweeping your own guys with a loaded weapon. Just not cool, and a punishable offense in the SEAL Teams. Find a loud mouth Special Ops guys on social media and chances are he’s not really Special Ops, or worse, was kicked out of the community for a safety violation like this.
- Representing the military as unprofessional. Some of the most professional people I’ve met in my life are from the military and it’s crazy to see that scene in American Sniper where the instructors are yelling at students on the firing line like boot camp kids. Not realistic, and doesn’t represent the high level of professionalism at the SEAL sniper program.
- Unlimited bullets. Just doesn’t happen outside of video games folks. That ten-round magazine doesn’t last forever, Johnny.
- Bad unit tactics. Take your pick… oh yeah, on Zero Dark Thirty the producers had the guys talking on target… not going to happen that way! It’s a squeeze on the shoulder or a hushed communication via inter-squad radio. Just corny…
- Poor mission planning. Parachuting onto the roof of a target for example. Not going to happen unless you’re Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
- The list goes on but you get the idea.
Here’s my top 10.
The Great Escape
What’s not to like about Steve McQueen crushing Nazis?! Plus one of the best motorcycle war chase scenes ever before Red Bull got into extreme sports we had Steve on his bike with no helmet airs!
Possibly the best war movie soundtrack as well. The infamous quote from Duvall, “Charlie Don’t Surf!”… I’ll leave at that. Great F’ng movie. A close choice for my #1 with the soundtrack alone!
If you can get past Charlie Sheen (he hadn’t lost his mind in ’86) this is a great gritty movie about Vietnam. The same kind of movie you can expect to see rebooted with our modern-day Vietnam of Afghanistan. Drugs, stealing cash off-target, war crimes, hookers, this one has it all. I actually wrote a one-page pitch for a similar war movie called, The Reservation, about guys going haywire in Afghanistan post-2004 when it turned into a complete shit show. Stay tuned…
Just look at who’s in the movie and enough said. Ex-Special Ops taking on an alien inter-planetary hunter-kill? Fuck me, I’m in! “Head to the chaupper!” Move over Parasite…Que, the Academy award for manliest movie of the year, Predator.
Based on true events. Great movie but like most great war movies, when you peel it back, usually you find the guys on the ground totally let down by the guys at the top. This time, the name rhymes with “Bill Clinton”… Left our boys hanging in the breeze to fend for themselves in another half-baked country intervention. Fortunately for Delta and the Rangers they did an extremely good job at it while Bill was getting a his daily brief from a White House intern. Epic movie, but I was triggered for sure.
The Hunt for Red October
You may ask yourself why a sniper picked this one. Well, before I was a sniper I was an anti-submarine warfare operator and search and rescue swimmer helicopter aircrewman. (Have they now changed it to aircrew person? What the hell is the politically correct version of it? I wrote about this in The Red Circle.) So before I was born again hard in SEAL Training, I geeked out on Russian submarine profiles and harmonic sounds generated by diesel-electric subs. This is a great movie by one of the best military fiction writers ever, Clancy.
The Deer Hunter
Want to know why you shouldn’t ask your military buddy, “How many kills you have bro?” Watch Deer Hunter and then STFU. Great movie. Gives a new meaning to Russian Roulette as well. Look at the cast as well, All Star!
The Dirty Dozen
Back when it was ok for men to be men and pronouns weren’t weaponized by the hipster elite. The Dirty Dozen. What’s not to like about Americans kicking Nazi ass?! Plus, take a bunch of guys from the brig and put them on a special ops suicide mission and you have the makings of a great war movie. A lot of great actors in this one as well — A list for sure.
Saving Private Ryan
The epic and ultra-realistic D-Day scene won me over from the get-go. Plus some good sniper footage as well. Again, common theme here with allied forces kicking Hitler ass. Doom on you Nazi bastards. Great directing and great acting all around. It kicked off the amazing series, “Band of Brothers” (also a must-watch).
The Hurt Locker
Jeremy Renner comes out swinging in this gritty movie that showcases the true toll of war. I have several friends who I lost to similar combat addictions. It’s a real thing and one of the reasons I really liked this movie, because it shows the toll it takes at home.
There you have it. I’d also like to hear from you. What are your top 10? Thanks for listening. Out here. – Brandon