11 Best Modern military films of the 21st Century

Sometimes we all have that spontaneous urge to watch a bloody or gruesome movie, and I’m almost sure it’s human nature. Now, if you’re having that craving right now and you’re after something realistic with a hint of history, here are our picks for the best modern military films of all time.

11.Zero Dark Thirty

This film is based on the end of a decade-long hunt, the finding, and the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011 that lead to a nighttime strike, all thanks to the instrumental work of a female operative. Although controversial in its depiction of torture, this is a must-watch documentary on how the world’s previously most wanted man was tracked and killed in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Not to mention it really gives off empowered woman vibes! Jessica Chastain was great in the film and the film did fairly well grossing 95.7 million dollars in the U.S alone. The critics have given mostly praise! If you’re looking for a war film that is suspenseful, thrilling, and overall, a cinematic masterpiece, with a badass female protagonist, then Zero Dark Thirty is your film!

10.12 STRONG

12 Strong is based on the real brave soldiers of ODA 595 who fought in the war of Afghanistan. It starts when U.S Captain Mitch Nelson moves into a new home with his family, and he receives a new assignment for staff duty. At this time, terrorist attacks have been reported from national television, and Nelson feels the responsibility weighs on his shoulders and volunteers to lead the troop to Afghanistan. Upon approval of this task, he leads 595 alongside Veteran Soldier CW5 Hal Spencer. And after twenty-three days of continuous warfare, Nelson guides the 12 soldiers of ODA 595 safely back to the comforts of their hometown with the support of newfound friendships.

09.Act of Valor

The setting is in the quaint country, the Philippines, where the U.S Ambassador gets assassinated. The Act of Valor takes viewers into the secretive world of elite military specialists who rescue a kidnapped CIA operative and discover a massive terrorist plot against the United States, turning their rescue into a global manhunt to save thousands of lives. The SEALs once again end up being our heroes and it perfectly blends heroism and patriotism into a movie worth watching. The most interesting part is that real some Navy SEALs were cast in this award-winning film, an incredible tribute to the SEALs that sacrificed their lives fighting anarchists on 9/11.


Jarhead is a film adaptation of Anthony Swofford’s memoir of the first Gulf War.  It’s a deglamorized depiction of the genuine sadistic harm and tribulations that marines confront. The worn-out men are stranded in the midst of a 112-degree desert, where they pass the time by training, masturbating, sleeping, and visibly fighting signs of weakness to get through and emotionally preparing themselves for losing thousands of comrades. But just when they’re done with their preparatory measures, the Iraqis decided to concede. Don’t get me wrong you and I would be absolutely relieved for an overturned war but not these soldiers. The game plan since day one was train then fight to win, that’s all they held onto so their frustrations for the called off war are understandably valid. Finally, we watch the soldiers lease many lifestyles, from ready-to-die marines to businessmen, drunkards, and most importantly, everyday folks enjoying one more day.

07.We Were Soldiers

The movie We Were Soldiers is an excellent, well-crafted film. It was respectful to the Vietnamese and provided a holistic approach to the subject rather than a myopic one. Mel Gibson does an excellent job conveying this story that needs to be told with care for both American soldiers as well as civilians in Vietnam. The story unfolds in the La Drang Valley in Vietnam where 450 American soldiers were surrounded by 2000 North Vietnamese troops, a place that would be later called “the Valley of Death.” The film explores the nobility of the outnumbered soldiers in the battle that marks the beginning of the Vietnam War. The film stars Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, and Greg Kinnear.

We Were Soldiers got many awards and nominations such as Academy Award for Best Cinematography, the best actor in a supporting role Greg Kinnear and was nominated for many more.

06. The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is a gripping film about a bomb disposal squad in Iraq, led by a certain Sergeant William James, who experiences such a high when doing his job that leads him to be reckless and wild, much to the worry of his team members who merely want to survive the few days of duty they have left. One interesting note about the movie is that it was actually written by journalist, Mark Boal, based on his experience with a bomb squad in Iraq, so the movie is as real as it gets. Furthermore, the director, Kathryn Bigelow purposely casted lesser-known actors to further the feel of realism in the film.

05. Lone Survivor

This 2013-film follows the mission of four Navy SEALS to capture the notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah when they were spotted by three goatherds. Faced by a dilemma between choosing to free these goatherds who may be Taliban sympathizers or potentially killing innocent civilians, their choice led to a gunfight in which only one member survived to tell the tale.One of the Navy Seals himself, Marcus Lutrell, narrated the true story of how this all happened. That only heightened the magic of it all even more.

04. Fury

Hollywood has always had a reputation of either being very accurate to its history or wildly inaccurate. The majority of war movies depend on the usage of conveying gruesome battles, but David Ayer’s 2014 film Fury shows us an entirely different perspective.

This action packed movie stars Brad Pitt as Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier, Shia LaBeouf as Boyd Swan, Jon Bernthal as Grady Travis, Michael Peña as Trini Garcia, and Logan Lerman as Norman Ellison.

The movie tells the story of an Army sergeant called “Wardaddy” and his five-man crew carrying out a deadly mission into the heart of Nazi Germany. With odds overwhelmingly not in their favor, the platoon has to fight their way into survival even when they’re outnumbered, outgunned, and out-skilled.

03. Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down is a 2001 American war film based on Mark Bowden’s 1999 book of the same name. Directed by Ridley Scott, it starred Josh Hartnett and Ewan McGregor. The film documents the 1993 raid in Mogadishu by U.S. military forces that led to a fierce firefight and eventual battle between themselves and Somali militia groups, which became known as ‘Black Hawk Down’. The American soldiers’ efforts helped establish stability for UN humanitarian operations there but they were unable to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

Hans Zimmer’s music adds to the intensity of this film. I liked how they presented military technology in it, and it’s a must-see for war drama or action movie fans!

02. Hacksaw Ridge

Another inspiring true story that revolves around medic Desmond Doss, who vowed not to kill anyone nor to carry any weapon, a heroic decision that can be viewed as stubborn in the middle of one of the bloodiest World War II battles. He saves 75 men in Okinawa and later becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honour without ever firing a single shot.  The epic war drama directed by Mel Gibson with Andrew Garfield as the main lead, easily considered one of the greatest war movies ever made.

01.Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers, a ten-episode 2001 American military historical drama, narrates the story of soldiers’ exploits during  World War II from beginning to end. It demonstrates how they struggle to establish connections since they’re required in several different locations, as well as the 85-point system needed to go home. Major Richard Winters develops a bond with his comrades and is determined to keep them safe, but as expected, you can’t save everyone safe from the battlefield. The series highlights the tragic truth of common deaths and crippling injuries, and even some soldiers’ despair when they recover from therapy. But, most of all, it shows us the mentally and physically strong men who stand by their morals, and their fight for each other’s survival.

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