The 15 best war movies on Netflix (October 2021)

Da 5 Bloods and Green Zone. Pic credit: Netflix/Universal

Netflix is a perfect streaming service for movie fans, as there are great options for every genre of movies, and this is true for war movies as well.

Whether it is movies taking place during real-world wars, sci-fi movies with battles against aliens or robots, or films that take place with the war as a backdrop, there are several great war movies on Netflix for fans to enjoy.

Whether it is a Netflix original or a movie licensed from another studio, there is something here for everyone.

As with all Netflix movies and TV shows, there are several that leave the streaming-service every month. The good news is that many films and TV shows are replacing them each month.

Make sure to bookmark this page as we will update it every month with the new releases while also removing those movies that have left Netflix.

Updated in October 2021: Every month, movies leave Netflix, and others show up to replace them. This means some of the best movies we might list here as recommendations are no longer available to view the streaming giant.

The good news is that we will be coming back to this article every month and removing those movies no longer available, and replacing them with new options that are of equal, or in some cases, superior quality.

War Machine (2017)

Brad Pitt in War Machine
Brad Pitt in War Machine. Pic credit: Netflix

War Machine was a 2017 Netflix satirical war movie with Brad Pitt in the lead role.

Pitt is a four-star general who was well-known for his leadership in the war in Iraq. He is sent to Afghanistan to prepare for an end to the war there. He is asked to write an assessment but the only stipulation is that he can’t ask for more troops.

He then decides they can win the war with 40,000 more troops, but he is told he can’t have it until after the upcoming election. However, a journalist who travels with the general has his own plans.

Gladiator (2000)

Russell Crowe in Gladiator
Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Pic credit: DreamWorks

Ridley Scott directed one of his most successful movies in 2000 with Gladiator.

The movie took place in 180 AD when a Roman war general named Maximus stood loyally by his king. However, when the king died, betrayed by his son, Maximus was reduced to slavery and eventually the role of a gladiator.

Russell Crowe starred as Maximus and eventually led all the slaves and gladiators to freedom when he challenged the new king, while also avenging the murder of his own family.

Gladiator won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe. It was also a box office success, making $457 million, the second-highest movie of the year.

Cold Mountain (2003)

Jude Law in Cold Mountain
Jude Law in Cold Mountain. Pic credit: Miramax

Cold Mountain is an epic war movie that takes place during the American Civil War.

The movie follows an injured deserter from the Confederate army (Jude Law) who tries to find his way home to reunite with the woman he loves (Nicole Kidman).

Based on the novel by Charles Frazier, the movie was a huge success, gaining over $173 million worldwide and picking up seven Oscar nods.

Clear and Present Danger (1994)

Willem Defoe in Clear and Present Danger
Willem Defoe in Clear and Present Danger. Pic credit: Paramount

Clear and Present Danger was the third Jack Ryan movie and the second with Harrison Ford in the role of the Tom Clancy government agent.

This was also the movie that brought Jack Clark to the big screen, played by Willem Defoe.

The movie has Ford’s Jack Ryan kept in the dark when his own colleagues are executing a covert war against a Colombian drug cartel, with the U.S. President’s blessing.

Dear John (2010)

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Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried in Dear John. Pic credit: Screen Gems

Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried star in the Nicolas Sparks’ adaptation Dear John.

The 2010 movie, directed by Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules), follows the template of most Sparks’ novels, with a love story and a tragic ending.

Dear John has Tatum as a military man shot in Afghanistan whose last memories before blacking out was of “you.”

The movie then flashes back two years to show the love story between John and Savannah in South Carolina. However, the movie has a smart twist, and the tragedy here is not what the viewer might expect.

War Dogs (2016)

Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in War Dogs.
Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in War Dogs. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

War Dogs is a drama-comedy about two guys who find a way to profit off the war.

Miles Teller is David, a massage therapist living in Miami who loses all his life savings on a failed business deal. He soon runs into an old friend in Jonah Hill’s Efraim, who has a company that sells arms to the U.S. government during the way in Iraq.

The goal is to find military equipment orders that large companies ignore, but are still worth millions. When one deal goes bad, the two head over to Jordan to figure things out and strike it rich.

However, Efraim makes some bad deals, and David ends up in danger as everything goes bad.

Green Zone (2010) 

Green Zone (2010)
Matt Damon and Jason Isaacs in Green Zone. Pic credit: Universal

Matt Damon was the lead in the Paul Greengrass war action thriller, Green Zone.

Damon is a U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer named Roy Miller, who man searching for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. However, when he learns the info is wrong and the true story about these weapons is blocked by the U.S. government.

The other lead is Yigal Naor who played General Mohammed Al-Rawi, who is hiding in Baghdad during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Greengrass created the movie based on his disillusion of the war with Iraq.

The Outpost (2020)

The 15 best war movies on Netflix
The Outpost. Pic credit: Screen Media Gems

The Outpost was a Screen Media Gems release in 2020 that was based on the non-fiction book by Jake Tapper.

The book and movie take place during the Battle of Kamdesh in the war in Afghanistan.

The cast is top-notch, with Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, and Jack Kesy. It was supposed to premiere at South by Southwest in 2020 but that was canceled due to COVID-19 and it is now available on Netflix.

The Outpost has a great 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Outlaw King (2018)

The 15 best war movies on Netflix
Chris Pine in Outlaw King. Pic credit: Netflix

Outlaw King is a 2018 Netflix original war movie starring Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce.

The movie shows how Robert the Bruce launched a guerilla war against the large English army, starting when he rebelled against Edward I, becoming an outlaw, until the Battle of Loudoun Hill.

Pine (Wonder Woman) starred, alongside Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Avengers: Infinity War) and Florence Pugh (Black Widow).

The movie is bloody and doesn’t skimp on the battle scenes, picking up a nomination for its visual effects in 2019.

The 12th Man (2017)

The 12th Man
The 12th Man war movie. Pic credit: IFC Midnight

The 12th Man was a Norweigian war movie released in 2017.

The movie focuses on the escape of Jan Baalsrud (Thomas Gullestad) from the Nazis during World War II.

The title is based on the fact that there were 12 Norweigan resistance fighters in an attack on the Nazis. Their attack failed, and 11 of them are executed after interrogation and torture.

Jan is the 12th man, and the last alive, as he sets out on his escape, trying to get to neutral Sweden.

Unlike the book it is based on, the movie deals with the people who helped him escape and the courage of the local population. It is also a cat and mouse game, with his pursuers given the face of a Nazi pursuer played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Isiah Whitlock Jr.. as Melvin, Norm Lewis as Eddie, Delroy Lindo as Paul, Clarke Peters as Otis and Jonathan Majors as David in Da 5 Bloods
Isiah Whitlock Jr.. as Melvin, Norm Lewis as Eddie, Delroy Lindo as Paul, Clarke Peters as Otis, and Jonathan Majors as David in Da 5 Bloods. Pic credit: Netflix

Spike Lee chose Netflix to create his latest movie, and Da 5 Bloods hit the streaming service in June 2020.

In his first movie since winning an Oscar for BlackKklansman, Lee tells the story of a group of Vietnam War veterans returning to Vietnam to find their fallen squad leader’s remains.

They also want to retrieve some treasure they buried there.

The cast is fantastic, with Delroy Lindo, the late Chadwick Boseman, and more. Critics praised the movie, with a 92-percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monsters & Critics John Dotson called it “magnificently tense as well as riveting.”

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

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Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Pic credit: Picturehouse

Guillermo Del Toro directed the fantasy movie Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006 – a fairy tale story about a young girl who discovers a fantastical undergrown world.

However, on top of the fantasy movie aspects, Pan’s Labyrinth is set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, haunting its every moment.

The film also takes the horrors of war and creates an almost alternate fantasy world that allows the little girl to escape the real horrors, only to find more horrific monsters at her final destination.

This is easily one of the best movies on Netflix and remains Del Toro’s masterpiece.

Extraction (2020)

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Chris Hemsworth in Extraction. Pic credit: Netflix

Extraction is a Netflix original movie starring Chris Hemsworth, better known to Marvel movie fans as Thor.

This movie takes place in Bangladesh, a war-ravaged country, and Hemsworth is a black-market mercenary named Tyler Rake, who is sent in to save Ovi, the son of an incarcerated Indian drug lord.

This movie might be one of the most violent films on Netflix, with more kills than most war movies, and almost all of them at the hands of Tyler Rake himself.

Thanks to its insane action and the star-power of Hemsworth, the film was watched by approximately 90 million households in its first month of release, one of the more successful Netflix releases in 2020.

Defiance (2008)

Daniel Craig and Jamie Bell in Defiance. Pic credit: Paramount Vantage

Defiance is a war film from 2008 directed by Edward Zwick (Glory), and it told a war story from World War II.

Based on the book by Nechama Tec, this is about the Bielski partisans, a group of Jewish partisans who rescued Jewish people from extermination while also fighting the Nazi occupiers.

The main characters are brothers, Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber), Asael (Jamie Bell), and Aron (George MacKay), whose parents were killed by German occupiers, and they set out to avenge their parent’s death.

These brothers started a unit that saved tens of thousands of people.

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Beasts of No Nation
The Netflix original Beasts of No Nation. Pic credit: Netflix

Beasts of No Nation was the first movie that Netflix ever picked up as an original and did so in 2015.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective), this movie tells the story of a young boy who becomes a child soldier during a horrific war.

The film is based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, was part of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, and was then picked up by Netflix and given a limited release.

Idris Elba was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes while winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for the same honor. The film was not nominated for an Oscar due to its early prejudice against Netflix.


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