When it comes to war movies and television shows, Paramount+ may not have all our old favorites, but the streaming service has no shortage of good viewing options for the military enthusiast.
On top of the list below, the Paramount+ also offers old-timey military movies like 1951's "Drums in the Deep South” and a wide range of Smithsonian Channel documentaries, such as "100 Missions: Surviving Vietnam" and "Arlington: Call to Honor." Subscribers also get access to Showtime movies and shows, opening even more titles and ensuring your butts are firmly glued to the couch.
Here are just a few of the best on Paramount+ right now.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Director Michael Bay tells the real story of the six members of a CIA Annex Security Team, all former service members, who responded to the attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, after the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The team, stationed in a secret annex just one mile away from the compound, attempts to rescue American personnel, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, in the face of overwhelming odds.
This 2019 classic war film from director Sam Mendes' ("Skyfall") was inspired by the stories Mendes heard from his grandfather, who fought in the British Army World War I. Two young British troops have to cross a seemingly insurmountable length of the Western Front to warn a unit that their planned attack is a German trap.
Not only is "1917" a historically accurate and compelling depiction of the war's Western Front, it's also renowned for its choreography and cinematography. It was intricately planned to make the movie appear to have only two continuous shots. If you only watch one movie on this list, this would be a great choice.
Max Vatan (Brad Pitt, "Fury") and Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose") are a Canadian intelligence operative and a French resistance fighter who meet on a mission to Morocco during World War II. Once the mission is over and they return to the relative safety of war-torn London, British intelligence begins to suspect there's more to Marianne than they ever knew.
The Smithsonian Channel's "Black Wings" follows the history of America's Black aviators from biplanes to combat operations. From "Prophet of Aviation" William Powell to the Tuskegee Airmen to Air Force legend Daniel "Chappie" James, "Black Wings" is a fascinating documentary about the timeline of how these aviators overcame racism and joined the ranks of America's best pilots.
Bridge of Spies
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg reunite in this 2015 thriller that depicts a number of Cold War-era spy stories. The movie itself is about the FBI's capture of Soviet KGB sleeper Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance, "Dunkirk") and how he was exchanged for downed U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell, "Whiplash") after the 1960 U-2 incident.
The movie's title refers to Berlin's Glienicke Bridge, which was closed to all but diplomatic personnel after the construction of the Berlin Wall. Despite it connecting East and West Germany, the bridge was controlled directly by Moscow.
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
If this title sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a modern retelling of the 1954 World War II classic “The Caine Mutiny,” starring Humphrey Bogart. In this version, Keifer Sutherland (“24”) plays the Bogart role as Lt. Cmdr. Philip Queeg.
Queeg is forced out of command after his executive officer, Lt. Steve Maryk (Jake Lacy, "The Office") sees him afraid and frozen as the ship sails through a typhoon. Once in command, Maryk takes the USS Caine back to San Francisco, where he’s put on trial for mutiny.
When the Civil War broke out, the men of Cold Mountain, North Carolina, couldn’t wait to join the Confederate Army. One of them, Inman (Jude Law, “Enemy at the Gates”), left behind his wife Ada (Nicole Kidman, “Bombshell”) to take care of the family farm. As the war drags on, her letters go unanswered. Inman was wounded and deserts to reunite with his wife back home.
Ensign Jesse Brown was the first Black aviator to complete the Navy's basic flight training program. He earned his commission in 1949, just one year after President Harry Truman integrated the U.S. armed forces. In 1950, he was flying missions in the Korean War.
Jonathan Majors stars as Jesse Brown in "Devotion," the story of his close friendship with his wingman, Thomas J. Hudner, who heroically attempts to rescue Brown when his plane goes down behind enemy lines.
"Drunk History" is a series of hilarious historical reenactments from a cast of regulars, along with a slew of celebrities and comedians, including Aubrey Plaza, Don Cheadle and Jack Black, just to name a few.
As the name implies, a storyteller has a few drinks and tells a history story to host Derek Waters -- and some hold their booze better than others. The dialogue of the story isn't accurate, but the stories themselves are.
Enemy at the Gates
By August 1942, the German Army had taken large chunks of Soviet territory and captured hundreds of thousands of Red Army troops. Adolf Hitler wanted a symbolic victory for Germans and went all-in on Stalingrad, launching a five-week battle that would kill more than a million soldiers.
At Stalingrad, a Soviet sniper named Vasily Zaitsev (Jude Law, "Sherlock Holmes") rises to fame for killing hundreds of German soldiers. The Germans send their best counter-sniper, Maj. Erwin König (Ed Harris, "The Rock"), to hunt Zaitsev. The two square off in a test of wills during one of the most pivotal battles of World War II.
Vietnam veteran John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) spends his days as a drifter, but after trying to visit an old war buddy in the Pacific Northwest, he catches the attention of the local sheriff. Sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy, “Tommy Boy”) ends up arresting Rambo for vagrancy. After harsh treatment at the hands of his deputies, Rambo has a Vietnam flashback and escapes.
The law pursues Rambo into the woods where they discover he’s no ordinary Vietnam vet. Rambo is the best Special Forces operator the Army ever had, and he’s ready to go to war. Not only is “First Blood” a great action movie, it’s a stunning treatise on the treatment of Vietnam veterans in postwar America. Paramount+ also carries the less heartfelt, shoot-’em-up “Rambo” movies.
When you rewatch "Forrest Gump," you might be surprised to realize how little of its 2½-hour running time is devoted to Gump's service in Vietnam and his friendship with Lt. Dan Taylor.
Yet Gary Sinise's performance as Lt. Dan sticks with viewers three decades later, even though the actor didn't win the Oscar he deserved. Tom Hanks won Best Actor, and the film garnered Best Picture and four more awards.
The greatest legacy of "Forrest Gump" may be that the experience of making it introduced Sinise to veterans issues, and he's gone on to become one of the greatest advocates the military community has ever seen.
Free State of Jones
Matthew McConaughey is Confederate deserter Newton Knight in this 2016 war drama. Knight was a medic whose nephew was mortally wounded at the Second Battle of Corinth in Mississippi in 1862.
Already disenchanted with the Confederacy, Knight deserted after learning that a white man with 20 slaves could be exempt from military service. He returns home to Jones County, Mississippi, where he fights off Confederate troops and foragers, then declares Jones County loyal to the United States.
OK, so maybe “Gladiator” isn’t necessarily a military movie, but the story does center around Maximus (Russell Crowe), a Roman general who takes the blame for the murder of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris, “Unforgiven”). After escaping an execution set up by the real murderer, the emperor’s son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix, “Napoleon”), Maximus is captured as a slave and gladiator. He fights for one purpose: to return to Rome, exact his revenge on Commodus and restore Rome to the Republic that Marcus Aurelius once envisioned.
Golda (Dec. 20)
Israel’s “Iron Lady” led the country as its fourth prime minister between 1969 and 1974, which meant she had to contend with both the Munich Massacre and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Although Meir’s life is filled with stories that could be their own movies, the 2023 film “Golda” is set during the Yom Kippur War. The war’s outcome is never in question, either for the viewer or the characters. Instead, the focus is on body counts; how many Israeli troops are going to die to see Israel’s continued existence?
Adapted from the Israeli TV series "Prisoners of War,""Homeland" is about Marine Corps scout sniper Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis, "Band of Brothers"), who is accidentally rescued after being held by al-Qaida for more than seven years. He returns to a family who thought he was dead and must reintegrate into home and society.
One CIA officer has trouble believing Brody's story, however. Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes, "The Hours") thinks Brody was turned by al-Qaida and is planning another attack on the United States. Though she suffers from bipolar disorder, she has to prove it to both the CIA and herself.
The Kite Runner
Amir (Khalid Abdalla, "The Crown") is a young boy in a well-off family living outside Kabul when his life is turned upside down by an invasion from the Soviet Union. His family flees to Pakistan and, eventually, the United States. Decades later, Amir lives with the guilt of betraying his friend, Hassan, as boys and eventually seeks to make some kind of amends. Along the way, he makes discoveries about his past, his family and his childhood friend.
Lawmen: Bass Reeves
Bass Reeves was a real man and a towering historical figure -- literally. At a time when the average American man was a slight five feet tall, the 6’2” Reeves stood out. He was born into slavery and forced to accompany his slaveholder during the Civil War before escaping to the Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. After the war, he was recruited by “Hanging” Judge Isaac Parker to help bring order to the lawless area.
David Oyelowo (“Selma”) portrays Reeves in this new limited series, produced by Taylor Sheridan (“Yellowstone”). Also joining the cast are Dennis Quaid (“Midway”), Barry Pepper (“We Were Soldiers”) and Donald Sutherland (“Kelly’s Heroes”) as Judge Parker.
Saving Private Ryan
Does anyone really need an introduction to "Saving Private Ryan?” This is the film that not only set the bar for World War II movies, it set everything else for them, too. The opening scene so accurately represented the fighting on D-Day that actual WWII veterans had to leave the theater until it was over.
This movie is very loosely based on Edward, Preston, Robert and Frederick Niland, four brothers who served in World War II. Two of the brothers died in combat while another was captured by the Japanese in Burma and was presumed dead until his POW camp was liberated. The fourth brother was given a one-way ticket home. It's not a true-to-life story, but director Steven Spielberg ensured the World War II combat depicted in the movie was.
Mark Wahlberg (“Ted”) plays Marine Corps scout sniper veteran Gunnery Sgt. Bobby Lee Swagger in this Antoine Fuqua thriller based on the 1993 book, “Point of Impact.” After a mission gone wrong in Ethiopia kills his spotter, Gunny Swagger retires from the Corps. A few years later, he’s approached by a paramilitary firm to stop an assassination attempt on the President of the United States.
Instead of preventing the attempt, Swagger is framed for it and has to prove his innocence before the private military company can hunt him down. Rounding out the cast of “Shooter” are Michael Peña (“Narcos: Mexico”), Danny Glover (“Lethal Weapon”), Kate Mara (“House of Cards”) and Ned Beatty (“Superman”).
Spy Wars with Damian Lewis
"Spy Wars" is the perfect show for anyone who loves the history of daring intelligence operations. Host Damian Lewis ("Band of Brothers," "Homeland") guides viewers through this docuseries that tells the stories behind some of the most incredible covert missions ever. The series covers Soviet "illegals," the "Argo" mission to exfiltrate Americans from Tehran, and the capture of Robert Hanssen, the most damaging traitor in U.S. history.
Special Ops: Lioness
“Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan’s newest show is a take on the Army and Marine Corps’ female “Lioness” program, designed to use Female Engagement Teams to perform culturally sensitive tasks that men could not during the war in Afghanistan.
The new show imagines what would happen if those engagement teams not only expanded into culturally sensitive areas, but into teams of spies, infiltrators and assassins for the CIA. The spy thriller stars Zoe Saldaña ("Guardians of the Galaxy”), Laysla De Oliveira (“Locke & Key”), Nicole Kidman (“Cold Mountain”) and Morgan Freeman.
Star Trek. All of It.
You can now settle the age-old internet question of "Kirk versus Picard" by watching everything from the "Star Trek'' franchise on Paramount+. If the original "Star Trek" series or movies didn't thrill you, and you were underwhelmed by "The Next Generation" and its movies, you can also catch the other spinoffs here, from "Deep Space Nine" to "Enterprise."
On top of all the Starfleet exploits from days gone by, Paramount is rebooting the franchise with new shows, including the throwback "Picard," and new shows "Discovery" and "Strange New Worlds," which started its second season on June 15, 2023.
Actor, director and activist Sean Penn went to Ukraine in 2021 to document the unlikely rise of comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the presidency of the country. As he filmed, the story became something else entirely. Russian forces massed on Ukraine's borders, and Penn was with Zelenskyy as the first Russian bombs landed on Kyiv in February 2022.
Penn made numerous return trips to Ukraine in 2022 to continue telling the story of Zelenskyy's leadership and Ukrainian independence. He even visited the front lines of the war, where everyday Ukrainians were fighting for their lives and homes.
Hot take: The original 1986 classic may be one of the most iconic military movies ever made, but now it plays like a prequel to the even better 2022 movie "Top Gun: Maverick." "Top Gun" is still one of the most rewatchable Hollywood movies ever made, a film that has aged far better than almost all of its counterparts from the Reagan era.
"Top Gun" sent Tom Cruise's career into the stratosphere, inspired a generation of aspiring Navy aviators and convinced the Pentagon that cooperating with Hollywood could be an amazing recruiting tool. It also made the military cool again for a generation too young to remember Vietnam.
Top Gun: Maverick
America's favorite naval aviator returned to the big screen in 2022, with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. This time, he's training the Top Gun graduates -- including the son of his former radar intercept officer (RIO), Nick "Goose" Bradshaw.
As Maverick prepares the pilots for the most decisive mission of their careers, he has to literally confront his past while fighting to stay in the Navy.
Uncommon Courage: Breakout at Chosin
When United States Marines were sent to Korea in 1945, there was only one Asian-American regular officer in the Corps, Kurt Chew-Een Lee. Lee led Marines from the Inchon Landing through the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. "Uncommon Courage" documents his effort to lead 500 Marines into the jaws of death to save 8,000 more.
"Uncommon Valor" was one in a series of movies released a decade after the end of the Vietnam War that dealt with the widespread belief that the U.S. left prisoners of war behind in the jungles of Vietnam. It has an interesting mix of cast members, including Gene Hackman ("Bat*21"), Robert Stack ("Airplane!") and Patrick Swayze ("Road House").
Convinced his son, who is missing in action, is still alive, a Marine Corps colonel brings together a crew of fellow Vietnam veterans to go into Laos and find him. They have to fight their way into the country, but they eventually find Americans still being held and manage to bring them back home alive.
OK, so it’s not exactly a real war movie, but it is a futuristic dystopian film featuring Vietnam veterans. Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) are American soldiers in Vietnam who kill each other over a dispute involving the execution of civilians in 1969. Their bodies are frozen, their memories are erased, and they’re given enhanced abilities to fight as counterterrorism troops for the government.
But Deveraux regains his memories and escapes after rescuing a TV reporter who was working to uncover the Universal Soldier project. Scott, it turns out, is just as evil as ever and is hunting them down. Deveraux has to end the threat from other Universal Soldiers, kill Scott and help expose the program to survive.
Waco: The Aftermath
Showtime released this limited series coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the federal government's siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. No matter what you think about the siege and the controversy surrounding it, "Waco: The Aftermath" is a gripping retelling of events that took place both inside and outside the compound.
"Waco: the Aftermath" is a continuation of the 2018 Showtime limited series "Waco." Michael Shannon ("12 Strong") reprises his role as real-life FBI negotiator Gary Noesner. This series also explores the connection between Waco, the militia movement and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
We Were Soldiers
Mel Gibson ("Lethal Weapon") stars as Lt. Col. Hal Moore in director Randall Wallace's adaptation of Moore's book, "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young." When Moore arrives in Vietnam, the 400 men of his 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry are tasked to aid a firebase under attack in Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley against an unknown number of enemy soldiers.
Despite being outnumbered, surrounded and unable to withdraw by air, Moore and his soldiers fight the North Vietnamese for a week in one of the most storied and bloody battles of the Vietnam War.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Unsatisfied with her career, journalist Kim Baker (Tina Fey, "30 Rock") takes a gig as a war correspondent in Afghanistan. There, she discovers the ins and outs of war reporting through dealing with the U.S. military establishment, fellow journalists and her Afghan "fixer." The movie is based on real-life journalist Kim Barker's (not a typo, that's her real name) memoir "The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
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