HBO’s streaming platform has grown massively and seen various forms since its inception. First, there was HBO GO, then HBO Max, and now we have the current Max streaming platform. Whether you prefer TV shows, documentaries, or movies, there are plenty of choices available through HBO’s library. If you are a fan of war movies, you may be wondering if there are any worthwhile ones on the streaming service. Here we will list the 20 best war movies on Max and describe their premises.
20. They Shall Not Grow Old
Acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson uses cutting edge technology to remaster and colorize footage from World War I to tell the story of the men on the frontlines. Told by the soldiers themselves and released in 2018, this is an important and moving documentary piece that World War I war buffs will enjoy.
19. Black Hawk Down
After Somali opposition brings down two Black Hawk helicopters in Mogadishu, U.S. soldiers must struggle to survive under the relentless attack of the Somalian forces. Based on a true story from 1993, this movie is intense and action packed. It stars Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore, Ewan McGregor, and William Fichtner.
18. The Bridge on the River Kwai
British prisoners of war are forced to build a bridge by their Japanese captors but they must carefully consider their actions and delay the progress as much as they can. In this 1957 film, the goal of the British is to prevent the enemy from achieving a strategic advantage. It is based on a 1952 novel written by Pierre Boulle and stars William Holden.
This movie is a retelling of the story of William Wallace, a Scottish patriot who led an army to battle against the English, and is played by Mel Gibson. Exploring a war that is seldom seen in the media, it is an inspiring piece that is definitely worth your time. It’s also won several awards including the Academy Award for best picture and best cinematography in 1996.
16. Zero Dark Thirty
After the events of the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden disappeared into hiding, becoming the most wanted man on the planet for a decade. This film chronicles the real life events that led to the U.S. locating, following, and ultimately killing Bin Laden. Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal from The Hurt Locker came together to produce this film and they showcase their Oscar-winning skills.
15. 12 Strong
Again following the events of 9/11, 12 strong follows a US special forces team as they advance into Afghanistan for a perilous mission. This squadron of 12 soldiers must face overwhelming odds to prevail. It stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, and Michael Peña.
A notorious rebel is being pursued by Germans during World War II and must enlist the help of a nightclub owner in Casablanca to get him out of the country in one piece. The leading actors are Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman who also happen to be in the midst of a complicated love story. Originally released in 1942, Casablanca has gone on to become a classic, romantic film for good reason.
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13. The Great Escape
The Great Escape sees a group of allied soldiers held captive in a German prisoner of war camp in World War II. Starring Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough, the soldiers must team up to outwit their captors and escape the camp.
12. Hotel Rwanda
Set during the horrific Rwandan genocide, a hotel owner allows refugees to take shelter in his hotel. As the violence escalates, the hotel owner must stand firm in the face of a terrifying oppression. The cast includes Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, and Joaquin Phoenix.
11. Lone Survivor
Lone Survivor follows a group of Navy SEALs in Afghanistan as they face off with a squadron of Taliban fighters in a battle where they are truly outnumbered. Starring Mark Wahlberg, this film tells a story that is based on “true acts of courage.”As the title hints at, only one of the four-man team will emerge from this intense, action-packed war movie.
10. War Horse
A young man living on a farm in England is devastated when his father sells his beloved horse to the British cavalry. He is so distraught that he sets out on a dangerous adventure to find his horse in France during the midst of the World War I and finds himself on the front lines. This movie features Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Set during World War II, Atonement tells the tale of two young lovers whose lives are torn apart by a lie told by a jealous younger sister. Robbie is falsely taken to prison and then gets released to fight for the British army. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy star in this sweeping drama and tragic romance, showing how heartbreaking love can be in the backdrop of war.
8. The Battle Of Algiers
The Battle of Algiers follows a French resistance fighter as he is sent to a conflict in Algeria. The Algerian people seek independence from the French government, but the French are looking to halt the National Liberation Front (FLN). This 1966 film is interesting because the violent Algerian war is not often portrayed in the media even though it is an important part of history from the 1950s.
7. Full Metal Jacket
Set during the Vietnam War, this film begins with the training of some freshly recruited soldiers under the command of a savage drill sergeant. After their mental state is truly tested, they are left to endure the chaos of the war itself. This film came out in 1987 and stars Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, and Vincent D’Onofrio.
6. Empire of the Sun
Starring a young Christian Bale in his first ever movie role, Empire of the Sun sees the young English boy captured by the Japanese as they occupy China during World War II. He is held in a prisoner of war camp, but despite the harsh conditions, the boy never loses his sense of optimism.
5. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
This period war movie focuses on a naval conflict between the British and the French in the seas off the coast of South America. Russell Crowe plays Captain Jack Aubrey who leads the English ship called, Surprise. Set during 1805 and the Napoleonic wars, this is a unique war movie, but worth your time for that exact reason.
Christopher Nolan directed this masterpiece war movie that creatively showcases the tension of the conflict on the beaches of Dunkirk, which turned the tide of World War II. With a stellar cast, fantastic score, and amazing shots, Dunkirk is a thrilling look at one of the most infamous events of the war. After its release in 2017, the film won best achievement in film editing, sound editing, and sound mixing at the 2018 Academy Awards.
3. Hacksaw Ridge
Hacksaw Ridge is the incredible true story of a U.S. army medic, Desmond Doss, who refuses to bear arms during World War II due to his religious beliefs. Without firing a single shot, Andrew Garfield’s character becomes a heroic soldier as he saves 75 men in the battle of Okinawa.
Now for a twist with this war comedy that follows a whacky cast of characters at a medical unit during the Korean War. Despite the war raging on around the unit, they play practical jokes, throw parties and create chaos throughout the camp. Notable cast members include Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt, and Robert Duvall.
1. Welcome to Sarajevo
And lastly, one of the best war movies on Max is Welcome to Sarajevo. In this movie, a reporter heads to Sarajevo to chronicle the Bosnian war and quickly develops a complex friendship with a TV reporter. Together, Woody Harrelson and Stephen Dillane’s characters cover the chaos of the war and discover a struggling orphanage. The pair become invested and work their hardest to smuggle the orphans to safety.
Whether you know tons about history and the background behind these wars, or not, you’ll find a lot to like about these movies. This list of the best war movies on Max showcases the variety that HBO has to offer from documentaries to classics to war comedies. It’s a great way to learn and understand the wars before our time, so we hope you enjoy streaming these films on Max.