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If you're looking for the best war movies on Amazon's Prime Video service, we're here to help you beat the recommendation algorithm and get right to the movies you want to see. Prime Video has the most widely varied catalog of movies and shows, and sometimes it's hard to find what you want to watch. Our list can help you cut through the chaff and get to the action you crave.
The movies on our list are focused on wars from one era of human history or another, but we also list TV shows streaming on Prime Video that include a few spy stories.
More titles are available for rent or purchase or by expanding your streaming subscription to services like MGM+, but there's no need for all that. There's enough military viewing here on Prime Video to justify that yearly subscription to Amazon Prime. You can also watch the latest war movies by trying out a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime.
The Best Years of Our Lives
"The Best Years of Our Lives" was a surprisingly hard-nosed story about the struggles of veterans returning from World War II. WWII Army veteran Harold Russell, who lost both hands in a training accident, was awarded a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a Navy veteran who lost both arms in combat. The movie also won Best Picture, Best Director for WWII Army Air Corps veteran William Wyler ("Ben-Hur") and Best Screenplay for Robert E. Sherwood, the director of the overseas Office of War Information during WWII.
Three veterans return home to the small Midwestern town of Boone City: one Army sergeant, one Navy petty officer and one Army Air Forces bombardier captain. None of the men makes an easy transition back to civilian life, and "The Best Years of Our Lives" follows them as they experience varying degrees of success in sorting out their futures.
Set during the Roman invasion of Britain in the year 43 A.D., "Britannia" portrays the brutal combat and even more brutal scheming between tribes as the native cultures try to survive and drive out the enemy.
If you think Kelly Reilly is scary as Beth Dutton on "Yellowstone," wait until you see her with a sword in her hand as Queen Kerra in "Britannia." Seasons 1 & 2 are currently available on Prime Video.
City of Ghosts
As the Islamic State captured large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014, a secret group of citizen journalists called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently documented ISIL's war crimes and atrocities for the world to see.
"City of Ghosts" is a documentary about the then-anonymous efforts of the reporters and how they uncovered ISIL crimes while living under the tyranny of the terrorist state or in exile. It was widely considered the best documentary of 2017 and became the "definitive documentary about the tragedy of Syria."
"The Courier" is the true Cold War-era story of how the CIA and MI6 used a civilian salesman with no intelligence experience as a go-between for Western intelligence agencies and a Soviet agent from the Russian GRU.
After deciding they can't use one of their own officers, the CIA and MI6 enlist British salesman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch, "Doctor Strange") to visit Moscow and collect information from GRU member Oleg Penkovsky. Wynne uncovers information that leads to the Cuban Missile Crisis while trying to keep his family together and avoid capture by the KGB.
The Devil's Brigade
"The Devil's Brigade" is a silver-screen adaptation of historian Robert H. Adleman's book that depicts the creation of the 1st Special Service Force, a joint unit of Canadian and American commandos formed during World War II. Trained in Montana, the joint force would fight in Italy, southern France and the Aleutian Islands. It was one of the foundational units for today's special operations forces.
Starring William Holden ("Stalag 17"), Cliff Robertson ("Spider-Man") and Vince Edwards ("The Killing"), the movie recounts the training and formation of the unit. It culminates in the 1st Special Service Force's attack on Monte la Difensa, a German-held and supposedly impregnable fortress, taken during the Italian Campaign.
Eye in the Sky
"Eye in the Sky," a British military thriller about the ethics of using drones in warfare, stars Helen Mirren ("Red," "The Queen"), Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad") and Alan Rickman ("Die Hard") in his final live action role.
Their mission is to capture three high-ranking members of the al-Shabaab terror group who are meeting in Kenya. A joint operation between British, American and Kenyan forces uses drones to identify the targets and oversee the situation, but the capture mission quickly turns into a kill mission.
The Final Countdown
The USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier with 5,000 crewmembers and jet aircraft, mysteriously disappears in the Pacific Ocean, before it's discovered that it has traveled back in time to Dec. 6, 1941, off the coast of Hawaii. Knowing every detail of what's about to happen to the U.S., the ship's men ask themselves if they should change the course of history.
"Generation War" is German television's attempt to make its own "Band of Brothers." Of course, that's a more complicated endeavor when your military was defeated in World War II and a racist ideology fueled your leader's rise to power and eagerness to start a conflict.
The show has been praised for its depiction of the unrelenting combat on the Eastern Front, but it's a bit too light depicting the ideologies of the Third Reich. Though its portrayal of the war is flawed, it's fascinating to see German filmmakers attempt to tell the story of the war for a mainstream audience.
Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant
While deployed to Afghanistan with U.S. Army Special Forces, Master Sgt. John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) gets a new interpreter, Ahmed (Dar Salim, “A War”). When his unit is ambushed and everyone but Kinley and Ahmed are killed, Ahmed carries the wounded soldier 100 kilometers back to Bagram Air Base while evading Taliban patrols.
Kinley goes home but can’t forget what Ahmed did to save his life. He resolves to return to Afghanistan on his own to take Ahmed and his family out of the country. Kinley is in a race against time to rescue all of them before the Taliban can find and kill them -- all without the support of U.S. forces.
In May 1969, the U.S. and the South Vietnamese armies launched an all-out frontal assault on a hill among the Dong Ap Bia mountains. The U.S. called it Hill 937, but the men who fought the battle would come to call it "Hamburger Hill." The hill had little strategic value, but was heavily fortified and the attackers took heavy casualties taking it -- only to abandon it soon after.
This 1987 movie was the film debut for actor Dylan McDermott ("American Horror Story") and was an early role for Don Cheadle ("Avengers: Endgame"). Writer and co-producer James Carabatsos served in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam in 1968-69 and spent years researching the battle before writing the script.
The Horse Soldiers
John Wayne and William Holden star in this 1959 adaptation of Harold Sinclair's 1956 novel of the same name. In 1863, Union cavalry made a daring, diversionary raid into Confederate-held Vicksburg, Mississippi, before Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s main attack on the city. It was director John Ford’s last feature of the 1950s and though it was a commercial success, it was panned by critics -- but a lot of classics were panned by critics.
Honestly, the only historically accurate thing about “The Horse Soldiers” is the background of the story. The film itself is heavily fictionalized, but its battle scenes are some of the best Civil War fights ever put on screen at the time. Stuntman Fred Kennedy even died during one of them. “The Horse Soldiers” is also the last credited role for rodeo star, World War I veteran and silent-era screen legend Hoot Gibson.
"Hunters" follows a team on Nazi hunters in early 1970s America. It's just as weird as "The Man in the High Castle," and Al Pacino ("The Godfather") leads the crew as Meyer Offerman, philanthropist and concentration camp survivor who's writing the checks for their missions. Logan Lerman ("Fury") stars as Jonah Heidelbaum, a young man who becomes Offerman's protegé.
The alternate history in "Hunters" is just as outrageous as what we saw in "The Man in the High Castle," and the show might have been too off-the-beaten path for the Prime Video action audience. The show has ended after two full seasons, so it's not a huge commitment if you want to find out whether it works for you.
Quentin Tarantino's over-the-top "what if" World War II movie is now back on Amazon Prime after being dropped last month. Brad Pitt ("Fury") stars as Lt. Aldo Raine, who leads a commando unit of Jewish troops in occupied Europe whose sole business is "killin' Nazis."
Intelligence discovers that Adolf Hitler and his entire group of the country's highest-ranking Nazi cronies will be attending the premiere of a Nazi propaganda film in Paris. The Basterds (as the Nazis call Raine's unit) are assigned to assassinate them all in one fell swoop.
If you don't love Bollywood war movies, it's either because you hate subtitles or you just haven't seen one yet. Kesari is one of the most epic, visually stunning war movies ever to come from India. There's no better backdrop for the over-the-top action that Indian films bring to the screen than the 1897 Battle of Saragarhi.
At Saragarhi, 21 Sikh soldiers of the British Army defended an outpost as it was attacked by about 24,000 Afghan tribesmen. As the battle raged, the Sikhs transmitted details of the fight as they happened, all of which are beautifully recreated in "Kesari."
Last Flag Flying
Steve Carrell ("The Office") plays "Doc" Shepard, a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam who tracks down two of his old buddies, Sal (Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad") and Richard (Laurence Fishburne, "The Matrix"), for an impromptu reunion. Doc soon reveals that he brought them together hoping they would come with him to take the body of his son, who recently died in Iraq, to his burial.
The movie was adapted from the book of the same name, written by Darryl Ponicsan, who served in the Navy between 1962 and 1965. As one might imagine, the fun and jokes among old friends who chewed the same dirt in Vietnam provides some much-needed relief from the drama of what the movie is actually about.
The Lost Battalion
In 1918, just after an American attack in the Argonne Forest, more than 550 men of the 77th Division were cut off from the rest of their Allied forces for nearly a week. Low on food, water and ammunition and under fire from their own artillery, hundreds were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. These nine companies became known as "The Lost Battalion."
This A&E movie stars Rick Schroder ("Silver Spoons") as Maj. Charles White Whittlesey, a real officer who received the Medal of Honor for leading the Lost Battalion through the Meuse-Argonne offensive, and eventually, back to friendly lines.
The Man in the High Castle
Prime Video gave a big-budget order to "The Man in the High Castle," an alternate history tale of the resistance in North America after Japan and Germany won World War II. Based on the classic 1962 novel by sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick, the show expands the book's plot and resolves its ambiguous ending over the course of 40 episodes and four seasons.
The show is both ambitious and incredibly weird. The period details are outstanding, and the show's writers and directors never dumb down their ambitions to make the twisted story easier to follow. As the streaming universe looks for less-expensive stories to tell, we're not getting many more strange tales like this one.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Never in the history of war movies has a movie garnered as much of a cult classic status as the 2003 film, “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.” The film is an adaptation and composite of two of novelist Patrick O’Brian’s books, featuring Royal Navy Capt. Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) and his friend and physician, Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany).
Set during the Napoleonic Wars, the HMS Surprise is dead set on hunting down a French vessel out to target English commerce ships in the Pacific Ocean. But as much as “Master and Commander” is a war movie, it’s also about the bromance between two old friends and life aboard the ship during wartime. The only reason this movie didn’t win the 10 Academy Awards for which it was nominated was because it was released the same year as “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."
OK, so “Navy Seals” isn’t an accurate depiction of real-life Navy SEALs, but you get Charlie Sheen (“Platoon”) at his 1980s finest, along with his “Major League” costar Dennis Haysbert (“24”) and Bill Paxton (“Aliens”). At least the plot is based on something Navy SEALs would actually be assigned to do: rescue a crew in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.
Whether you like “Navy Seals” (or not) or find it accurate (or not), it’s a pretty decent movie as far as 1980s action movies go. At a time when military movies seemed to be obsessed with finding left behind prisoners of war from Vietnam, it’s good to see other branches of the military represented.
For the two seasons that it was on Amazon, “Patriot” was, low key, the best spy show on television. Sadly Amazon has not renewed it for a third season. It’s about John Tavner (Michael Dorman, “For All Mankind”), a wannabe folk singer whose father is a CIA officer and former congressman.
The younger Tavner is deeply troubled, but that doesn’t stop his father Tom (Terry O'Quinn, “Lost”) from using him to rig an election in Iran. But before he can do the spycraft, he needs to secure a cover, which means getting a job at an industrial piping firm in Milwaukee.
Fans of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels didn't think Tom Cruise was right for the role, even though the 2012 movie "Jack Reacher" was one of the actor's best films. A sequel wasn't as good, and Cruise abandoned the character.
Enter Alan Ritchson, the huge and muscled actor who took on the role for Prime Video's 2022 series. Viewers went crazy for the new portrayal of the Army veteran who roams the backroads of the country and gets himself and the people he meets out of whatever trouble comes their way. "Reacher" returns for Season 2 on Dec. 15.
Many veterans will be familiar with Nick Palmisciano, West Point graduate and Army infantry officer, as the founder of Ranger Up. In 2021, he and 12 veteran friends moved to rescue an Afghan interpreter from being left behind in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. They formed Save Our Allies, and went to Kabul.
"Send Me" is a 2022 documentary about how the mission to save that one interpreter ballooned into one of the largest civilian rescue operations ever, bringing 12,000 people out of danger.
In 1941, a Soviet soldier of Jewish descent was captured by the Nazis and sent to the Sobibor extermination camp in occupied Poland. Despite the brutal oppression of his Nazi captors, Lt. Alexander "Sasha" Pechersky incites and leads an uprising against the camp guards just three weeks after his arrival.
The film was made in Lithuania by Russian director Konstantin Khabenskiy, who also plays the part of Sasha Pechersky. It was submitted to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film but did not receive a nomination. Its depiction of Pechersky's successful uprising and mass escape of hundreds of Jews is not entirely accurate, but it's still good viewing.
Spies of Warsaw
Based on the novel by American espionage master Alan Furst, "Spies of Warsaw" follows a spy who's posing as a military attaché at the French embassy in Warsaw, Poland just before the outbreak of World War II. David Tennant ("Broadchurch," "Doctor Who") stars. The series, much like Furst's novels, lingers over the intrigue and downplays the action.
We know that Hitler is going to invade Poland, but obviously none of the characters in this series know what we know. Less-patient viewers may want to yell at the television as the "Spies of Warsaw" characters fail to see what's coming, but it's the slow resolution that's the point of this show.
Strategic Air Command
There were a lot of Hollywood folk whose World War II military service involved performing shows for other military personnel or sitting behind a desk. James Stewart enlisted in the Army in February 1941 and went on to fly bombing missions over Germany. He continued to serve in the Air Force Reserves after the war and stayed active until 1968.
That made Stewart uniquely qualified to play the lead in the 1955 movie "Strategic Air Command," the story of a professional baseball player and WWII pilot recalled to active duty to fly the Convair B-36. The Cold War drama mainly exists to celebrate the further evolution of American air power after WWII, but there's a big question about how Stewart will sort out the conflict between his two great loves, flying and baseball.
The Terminal List
Former Navy SEAL Jack Carr's series of thriller novels about fictional former Navy SEAL James Reece has spawned a new franchise. "The Terminal List" sets up the epic tale, as Reece seeks revenge on the forces that killed his family. Chris Pratt ("Parks and Recreation") stars as Reece, and Pratt looks to be set up to play the role for years to come.
The Reeceverse has already locked in Season 2 of the tale, which will be based on Carr's novel "True Believer." There's also a prequel series in the works that will explore the complicated backstory of Reece's former SEAL teammate Ben Edwards, played by Taylor Kitsch.
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
Prime Video has carved out a niche as the home of military-themed action shows, and the streaming service's reimagining of Tom Clancy's beloved CIA operative, Jack Ryan, paved the way for all the shows that came after.
John Krasinski ("13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi") plays a version of the character that may be the closest to the one who appears in Clancy's novels, but the contemporary plots of the series have nothing to do with the stories that the author wrote in his books. The fourth and final season of Prime Video’s “Jack Ryan” series started streaming in June 2023.
Tom Clancy's Without Remorse
Michael B. Jordan ("Creed") stars in this military thriller that gives the backstory for one of Tom Clancy's greatest characters, former Navy SEAL John Clark. In the movie, we meet SEAL John Kelly, who goes to prison for taking revenge on the Russian diplomat responsible for the murder of his wife and unborn child. He's sprung from his cell with an opportunity to hunt down the surviving operative who carried out the murder mission.
That's a heavily redacted version of a complicated plot, which was written for the screen by Taylor Sheridan, the man who writes and produces the television series "Yellowstone." "Tom Clancy's Without Remorse" was intended for a theatrical release, but Paramount Pictures sold it to Amazon in the depths of the pandemic, and it went straight to streaming. The good news is that Jordan has been booked for a sequel intended for theatrical release.
Top Gun: Maverick
It was the war movie sequel fans waited more than 35 years to see, delayed time and again by the global COVID-19 pandemic. It was, apparently, worth the wait as it became the second highest-grossing movie of 2022, the highest grossing movie of Tom Cruise's career and was even nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Tom Cruise reprises his role as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell to train Top Gun graduates for one of the most dangerous missions of their entire career. Although the movie has a lot of throwbacks to the original "Top Gun," including a return of Val Kilmer as Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, it is often regarded as much better than the original, which is saying a lot.
Like so many Nicholas Cage movies, people either love “Windtalkers” or they hate it -- and there’s not a lot of in-between. What’s so great about this movie is that it depicts the battlefield exploits of the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II, as well as the Marines assigned to protect them. It has fantastic action sequences, which convey the dangers of anyone holding a radio in combat, and if you love war movie action, director John Woo (“Face/Off”) gives you exactly what you’re looking for.
What’s not great is that it’s not entirely accurate, which is what the Navajo Code Talkers’ story richly deserves. “Windtalkers” doesn’t even focus on the Navajo Marines; it is centered on the white Marines. All we’re saying is that this movie could have been legendary, but instead it became just another popcorn movie.
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