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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’re looking to watch. Our list can help you cut through the chaff and get to the war movies you want to see.
While the movies on our list are all focused on wars from one era of human history or another, we also have a bonus list of TV shows streaming on Prime Video that includes a few spy stories. There’s enough military viewing here on Prime Video to justify that yearly subscription to Amazon Prime.
War Movies on Prime Video
Paths of Glory
Director Stanley Kubrick and actor and World War II Navy veteran Kirk Douglas collaborated on one of the greatest World War I movies. Douglas is a French Army commander whose men refuse orders to make what would surely have been a suicidal attack. The commander defends his men when they’re court-martialed.
The film is an indictment of the French command and the waste of troops’ lives during that conflict. The cast also includes WWII Navy vets Ralph Meeker (“The Dirty Dozen”) and Wayne Morris (“Kid Galahad”), plus WWII Army vets Richard Anderson (“The Six Million Dollar Man”), Joe Turkel (“Blade Runner”) and Bert Freed (“Hang ‘Em High).
Related: 6 Great Military Movies Starring WWII Veteran Kirk Douglas
The Manchurian Candidate
Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey star in a Cold War classic about Korean War POWs brainwashed by the Chinese Army. Harvey, who served with the South African Army during World War II, plays the veteran programmed to assassinate his stepfather, a Joe McCarthy-like senator running for president. WWII Navy and Marine Corps vet James Gregory (“Beneath the Planet of the Apes”) plays the senator, and he was joined in the cast by WWII Army vet John McGiver (“Who’s Minding the Store?”), and the movie was directed by Air Force veteran John Frankenheimer (“Seven Days in May”).
“The Manchurian Candidate” was remade in 2004 by director Jonathan Demme in an excellent version that starred Denzel Washington and Liev Schreiber, but the original version best captures the paranoia of the Cold War era.
Run Silent, Run Deep
WWII Army Air Forces veteran Clark Gable (“Gone With the Wind”) and WWII Army vet Burt Lancaster (“From Here to Eternity”) star as the commander and executive officer of a U.S. submarine sailing in the Pacific during World War II. Cmdr. Rich Richardson (Gable) is obsessed with taking out a Japanese destroyer that has sunk several American ships.
“Obsessed” means taking unnecessary risks with his sub and crew, so XO Lt. Jim Bledsoe (Lancaster) butts heads with the commander over his recklessness. Everyone’s trapped in that tin can under the sea, so things are going to have to play out one way or another.
The film also stars Navy veteran and WWII Army veteran Jack Warden (“Heaven Can Wait”), WWII Army Air Corps veteran Brad Dexter (“The Magnificent Seven”), and is the film debut of WWII Navy veteran Don Rickles (“Casino”).
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.
Related: Tom Clancy’s Universe Gets a Modern-Day Makeover in ‘Without Remorse’
Wolf Warrior 2
If you loved those Reagan-era action pictures like “Rambo: First Blood Part II” or “Missing in Action,” the ones where lone American fighters righted the wrongs in faraway lands, then you’ll understand the appeal of “Wolf Warrior 2,” a Chinese military thriller that takes its cues from those old American movies.
Writer, director and star Wu Jing delivers an action picture that recalls the best of Sly Stallone and Chuck Norris. Ignore what the movie suggests about the ambitions of Chinese power in the developing world and focus on the action.
Related: ‘Wolf Warrior 2’ & the Rise of China
Missing in Action 2: The Beginning
How do you follow up the thrilling rescue at the heart of the 1984 classic “Missing in Action.” If you’re Air Force veteran and indestructible force of nature Chuck Norris, you fill in Col. James Braddock’s backstory with a prequel.
It’s a decade before the action in the first “Missing in Action,” and Norris’ character is being held in a North Vietnamese POW camp. Forced to grow opium for a sleazy French drug runner who made a deal with the camp commander, Braddock tries to hold his head up as he endures the brutality all around him. Once the commander executes one of the prisoners after Braddock had made a deal to save him, all bets are off, and you can figure out what happens next.
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 have varying degrees of success in sorting out their futures.
Judgment at Nuremberg
WWII Army veteran Stanley Kramer directed this chronicle about the real trials of Nazi war criminals in Germany in the years following World War II. Kramer was determined to present a true-to-life reproduction of the actual court proceedings, so the movie digs into quite a bit of the legal maneuvering the Germans on trial attempted to avoid the hangman’s noose.
WWII Army vet Burt Lancaster (“From Here to Eternity”), Navy veteran Spencer Tracy (“Bad Day at Black Rock”), WWII Army Air Forces veteran Edward Binns (“Patton”), William Shatner (“Star Trek”), Richard Widmark (“Kiss of Death”), Montgomery Clift (“From Here to Eternity”), Judy Garland (“A Star Is Born”) and Marlene Dietrich (“The Blue Angel”) also star. Austrian actor Maximilian Schell won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as a reluctant German defense attorney.
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.
This WWII drama is based on the true story of the 1942 assassination of German SS officer Reinhard Heydrich in Prague by Czech resistance fighters. Cillian Murphy, who stars as physicist Robert Oppenheimer in the upcoming film from director Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”) about the WWII Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb, and Jamie Dornan (“Fifty Shades of Grey”) star as the two spec ops soldiers sent on this daring mission.
Students of history know that the plot succeeded, so the only question going into “Anthropoid” is whether our two heroes will survive their mission. The movie is worth watching to find out.
Military TV Shows on Prime Video
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.
Related: Chris Pratt and Taylor Kitsch Loved Working with Real Operators on ‘The Terminal List’
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 who’s maybe 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.
Audiences have embraced the show, which has run for three seasons. There’s a final season set to run late this year or early in 2024.
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” will return for Season 2, hopefully sometime in 2023.
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.
Related: What if We Lost World War II?
“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.
“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 there was a racist ideology behind 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 goes a bit too light depicting the ideologies of the Third Reich. It’s definitely a flawed portrayal of the war, but it’s fascinating to see German filmmakers attempt to tell the story of the war for a mainstream audience.
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.
12 O’Clock High
“12 O’Clock High” is an ABC network television series that ran from 1964-1967. Based on the 1949 movie starring Gregory Peck, the show follows the missions of the fictitious 918th Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) during World War II.
The first season featured characters from the movie played by different actors, but the season introduced new characters played by Paul Burke (“Naked City”) and WWII Army veteran Barney Phillips (“The Sand Pebbles”). The series was produced by Quinn Martin, the producer of such other successful series as “The F.B.I.,” “The Fugitive,” “Cannon,” “Barnaby Jones” and “The Streets of San Francisco.”
Rather than present the 918th’s war in a long story arc, each episode portrayed what amounted to a freestanding story that recounted an incident in the group’s story. That means new characters each week and a parade of recognizable guest stars.
“Steve Canyon,” based on the comic strip by Milton Caniff, ran for 34 episodes on NBC during the 1958-1959 television season. WWII Army veteran Dean Fredericks starred as Col. Steve Canyon, the commander of the Big Thunder Air Force Base, travels each week to another base to act as an all-around USAF troubleshooter.
Made with the cooperation of the USAF, each half-hour episode features footage of jets in action. Col. Canyon doesn’t have much patience for anyone’s nonsense, and he’s on a mission to restore a sense of order to units that have gone slack.
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.
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