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5 best Netflix war movies to watch this 4th of July weekend

A soldier runs through a battlefield in "Hacksaw Ridge."

Many people go all out to celebrate their independence on the Fourth of July with their family and friends. But they should also take the time to acknowledge the people who died fighting for their freedom from tyranny and oppression. Netflix can help with that.

The streaming giant now features many films about many different wars. But they can all give viewers an idea of the hardships that real soldiers faced and maybe make them cherish the peace in their lives even more. And so, with the Fourth of July weekend here, these are the five best war movies people should stream on Netflix this Independence Day.

Need more recommendations? Then read our guides to the best movies on Netflix, best comedies on Netflix, and best action movies on Netflix.

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

Felix Kammerer as Paul Bäumer in Netflix's "All Quiet on the Western Front."

Based on the novel of the same name, the Netflix original All Quiet on the Western Front follows a German soldier (Felix Kammerer) whose hopeful innocence is shattered once he faces the real horrors of World War I. True to its premise, this Oscar-winning film takes a hard look at the dehumanizing effects of war on soldiers as they realize what they lost pointlessly fighting each other before succumbing to rage and despair.

Though the film is a beautifully crafted piece of cinema, it also features some of the most haunting moments ever seen in a war film. And despite its deviations from the source material, this modern adaptation successfully delivers a strong anti-war message that demands to be heard by people of all nations.

1917 (2019)

George MacKay as Schofield in a trench in a poster for "1917."
Universal Studios

This WWI film depicts two soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) as they try to deliver a message to call off an attack that will put their comrades’ lives at risk. Director Sam Mendes succeeds in immersing his audience into this film thanks to its cinematography, which makes it look like it was shot in two extremely long takes.

But the movie is more than just a technical achievement. The movie captures the chaos and tension felt by those on the battlefield, highlighting the sacrifices actual soldiers made fighting in what was once an overlooked chapter of the Great War.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Andrew Garfield in "Hacksaw Ridge."

Controversial director Mel Gibson made an unexpected comeback with this World War II biopic. Hacksaw Ridge follows the life of an American soldier (Amazing Spider-Man actor Andrew Garfield) who refuses to use a weapon, clashing with his superiors over his religious pacifism before serving as a combat medic in the Battle of Okinawa.

Some can only imagine how someone could survive on the battlefield without having to kill, but this film captures how one man did so and rescued 75 soldiers with some incredible performances and action sequences. Such a story displays how, even in war, people should aspire to save lives rather than take them.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Tom Cruise in "Born on the Fourth of July."
Universal Pictures

Directed by Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July chronicles the life of Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise), a Vietnam War veteran who protests the conflict after experiencing the combat firsthand, losing the use of his legs, and being denied proper care when he returns home wounded and traumatized. Many movies have explored the horrors of war and the struggles that soldiers face after it’s over.

However, few have come close to depicting the raw sorrow and mistreatment these veterans face as the country they fought for disregards them and their plight. This two-time Oscar winner remains a must-see for how it conveys a misled society’s hypocrisies about war, as well as how an entire generation of youth lost their innocence at the hands of this corrupt system. 

Unbroken (2014)

Jack O'Donnell in "Unbroken."
Universal Pictures

Unbroken follows the true story of Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), an American Olympic track star who, while fighting in World War II, gets stranded in the ocean and ends up captured and tortured in a Japanese POW camp. It may not depict all the struggles Zamperini faced after the war, but Unbroken captures the sacrifices he made fighting for what he believed in.

It’s a harrowing but uplifting tale of human strength that audiences can’t help but be inspired by as this real-life figure survives the worst conditions imaginable without compromising his morality. That one scene of Zamperini holding up a plank at gunpoint is enough to stamp this film in the minds of audiences forever.

Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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