Military Movies and Shows on Netflix: August 2017


In August, Netflix features the most military of Star Wars movies, a TV series about fictional Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger and a blockbuster movie about a Chinese Special Forces operator.

1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Set just before the action in the original movie, “Rogue One” is the “Dirty Dozen” of “Star Wars movies. A small band of rebels is tasked with stealing the plans to the Death Star because there’s a flaw in the system that might allow them to neutralize the threat. (2016)


2. Shooter

Ryan Phillippe stars in a TV series reboot of the movie that starred Mark Wahlberg. Phillippe stars as Bob Lee Swagger, the veteran Marine sniper from the Stephen Hunter novels. Season one follows the plot of the movie but adds a family to the mix. The show’s already a success and future seasons will be based on later books. (2016)


3. Wolf Warrior

Wu Jing writes, acts and directs this action movie about a Chinese Special Forces soldier who battles foreign mercenaries hired by a vicious drug lord to assassinate him. (2015)


4. Lord of War

Nicolas Cage, Ethan Hawke and Jared Leto star in writer/director Andrew Niccol’s crime thriller about arms dealers (Niccol also made “Good Kill,” 2015’s excellent film about Air Force drone pilots). It’s not exactly a satire, but Cage’s over-the-top performance gives the whole movie a humorous edge. Based very loosely on real-life characters and events, the film hoped to inspired a discussion about the underground arms trade. That didn’t exactly happen, but it’s still a film worth watching. (2005)


5. War Machine

Brad Pitt stars as an American general who’s not really Stanley McChrystal but sure is based on things that happened to him. Writer/director David Michôd’s satire is definitely over-the-top but the movie ends up having respect for “General McMahon’s” belief in the American dream even as it blasts the counterinsurgency strategy that has defined U.S. war in the 21st century. (2017)


6. Last Days in Vietnam

This PBS documentary details the American withdrawal from Saigon in April 1975. As the North Vietnamese army closed in, the U.S. military had to evacuate 5,000 Americans and made efforts to rescue a large number of Vietnamese who had supported the U.S. during the war. (2014)


7. Full Metal Jacket

Is Gunnery Sgt. Hartman (played by veteran R. Lee Ermey) the greatest Marine in movies? Director Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam War classic is a film worth watching over and over. Vincent D’Onofrio and Matthew Modine also give outstanding performances as young Marines who survive Gunny’s training regime. (1987)

8. Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino's alternate history of World War II stars Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, who leads a squad of Nazi hunters who successfully carry out a plan to assassinate Hitler and his top brass in a movie theater. It's profane and funny: Tarantino is more interested in paying tribute to the low-rent drive-in war movies he saw as a kid than exploring the history of WWII. (2009)

9. Five Came Back

This three-part documentary details the World War II service of five legendary Hollywood directors (Frank Capra, John Ford, George Stevens, William Wyler and John Huston) and the films they made in support of the war effort. Based on an excellent book by Mark Harris, the three-hour documentary shows highlights from the films as it talks about the role movies played in the war effort.Netflix has also added eleven of the WWII films to the service, so you can explore more after you watch the documentary. Capra directed “Know Your Enemy - Japan, “Prelude to War” and “Why We Fight: The Battle of Russia.” Wyler directed “Thunderbolt” and “The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress.” Huston directed “San Pietro,” “Let There Be Light” and “WWII: Report from the Aleutians.” Ford directed “Undercover: How to Operate Behind Enemy Lines.” The selection also includes “Tunisian Victory” and “The Negro Soldier.” (2017)


10. The Night Shift

NBC’s summer series follows a San Antonio hospital trauma unit staffed by doctors who learned their trade as military doctors and medics in Afghanistan. It’s found a loyal following for its treatment of veterans issues and Season Four premieres this summer. Season One and Season Two are now available to stream, so you can (mostly) catch up before new episodes air. (2014-2015)


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