Best Netflix war movies in May 2024

Felix Kammerer in All Quiet on the Western Front, one of the Best Netflix war movies
(Image credit: Netflix)

The films on our best Netflix war movies list have the most difficult task: taking one of the most destructive and horrific things on the planet, and making it compelling and entertaining. While the reality of these battles isn’t something any of us wish to experience first-hand, it does make for some gripping and action-packed movies, and Netflix has a pretty big catalog of war movies to pore through right from your couch. And yes, you need to find these stories in the movies section, as the best Netflix shows don't offer much about war.

Whether you’re a World War II buff who’s interested in learning more about the smaller resistance movements and battles that led to the ultimate defeat of the Nazis or you’re more fascinated by recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Netflix’s selection of war movies has something for everyone that will likely teach you a few things you didn’t know before. 

Our selections include The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Mosul, just to name a few of the films that helps keep Netflix's spot on our best streaming services. For more from Netflix's realer side, check out our guide to the best Netflix documentaries.

The best Netflix war movies

The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die

(L to R) Arnas Fedaravicius as Sihtric, Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred and Mark Rowley as Finan in The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

As much of a feature-length series finale as it is a movie, The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die follows Lord Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon) on his quest to unite the kingdom that we now know as England. This 10th century war movie finds its hero without his armaments he acquired throughout the series, and facing enemies at all angles.

While critics say its story is a little too complex at times, fans of The Last Kingdom will love this ending for their series. It also appeals to Lord of the Rings fans on a meta level. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%
Cast: Alexander Dreymon, Harry Gilby, Mark Rowley, Arnas Fedaravicius
Director: Edward Bazalgette
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Black Hawk Down

Josh Hartnett as SSG Matt Eversmann, seemingly under fire in Black Hawk Down

(Image credit: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Based on Mark Bowden's non-fiction book of the same name, about 1993 U.S. military raid in Mogadishu, Black hawk Down follows a large ensemble case through a rescue mission. Staff Sergeant Matthew Eversmann (Josh Hartnett) may be in over his head, having just received his first command, and when his team pursues a target, one of their own falls from the helicopters.

Not exactly a thinking man's war movie when it comes to characters or cultural thought, Black Hawk Down was hailed by critics for how it puts you in the tense situations that soldiers face in combat.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, William Fichtner
Director: Ridley Scott
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All Quiet on the Western Front

Felix Kammerer in All Quiet on the Western Front

(Image credit: Reiner Bajo/Netflix)

The amount of confidence it takes to make a new movie based on All Quiet on the Western Front in 2022 is impressive, but director Edward Berger knocked this one out of the park. As horrifying as any actual horror movie released recently, this adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's novel won praise for beautifully-shot battle scenes and the perils of falling in with pro-war nationalist sentiments.

Its story is simple: Paul (Felix Kammerer) is a young German soldier who is among the masses who joyously enlist to fight in the front lines of World War I. Once they get to the battlefield, they learn war is much more unnerving than they were told.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Cast: Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Aaron Hilmer, Moritz Klaus, Edin Hasanovic,  Thibault de Montalembert
Director: Edward Berger
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Operation Mincemeat

Colin Firth as Ewen Montagu in Operation Mincemeat

(Image credit: Warner Bros/Netflix)

Yes, war movies can also feel like the collision of the Pride and Prejudice cinematic universe. Here, former Mr. Darcys Colin Firth and Matthew Macfayden star as British intelligence officers dealing with a steep uphill challenge to stop the Nazis. And, impressively, this film is based on a true story. The plan is to confuse the enemy by with a corpse that makes the Germans believe the allies aren't headed to Sicily.

Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare In Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Operation Mincemeat got raves for both its entertaining and unique story and the performances of Firth and Macfayden.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%
Cast: Colin Firth, Matthew Macfayden, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton, Jason Isaacs
Director: John Madden
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The Siege of Jadotville 

Jamie Dornan, Jason O'Mara in The Seige of Jadotville one of the best war movies on Netflix

(Image credit: Karen Ballard / Netflix)

Back in 1961, a small group of Irish soldiers serving as part of the United Nations Operation in the Congo were set upon in the mining town of Jadotville by Katangese forces. The troops fought to hold off the attacks for five days as they awaited relief from other soldiers but were eventually forced to surrender and held as prisoners of war. The Siege of Jadotville shows the ugliness of war in all its brutality and proves to be an important remembrance of a significant historical event. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 74%
Cast: Jamie Dornan, Mark Strong, Jason O'Mara, Sam Keeley
Director: Richie Smyth
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Sand Castle 

Nicholas Hoult in Sand Castle, one of the best Netflix war movies

(Image credit: Nick Wall / Netflix)

Part of what makes Sand Castle such an engaging watch is that it's set in recent times, making it much easier to connect with. Matt Ocre (Nicholas Hoult) is a soldier with the US Army who's assigned the task of restoring water to a small Iraqi village. What happens throughout that operation is at times frightening and other times heartening. Better yet, it's based on real events, making it all the more harrowing.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 47%
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Henry Cavill, Glen Powell, Beau Knapp
Director: Fernando Coimbra
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Tears of the Sun

Bruce Willis in Tears of the Sun, one of the best Netflix war movies

(Image credit: United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

You know you're in for some top-tier action when Bruce Willis is the star of the movie, and Tears of the Sun doesn't disappoint. The movie centers on a U.S. Navy SEAL team as they embark on a rescue mission right at the center of the Nigerian civil war. Can they reach Dr. Kendricks before the rebels do? You'll have to watch to find out.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 69%
Cast: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Eamonn Walker
Director: Antoine Fuqua
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Suhail Dabbach as “Major Jaseem” and Adam Bessa as “Kawa” in Mosul, one of the best Netflix war movies

(Image credit: Jose Haro/Netflix)

This Arabic-language American war film brings a whole new perspective on the Battle of Mosul in 2016. Mosul depicts the war that saw Iraqi and coalition forces finally defeat ISIS after many years of battle. It's anything but pretty, but goes a long way of showing what war is like from the perspective of the soldiers and civilians from the lands in which they're fought. You'll be on the edge of your seat throughout, and the ending is hopeful without being unrealistic.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%
Cast: Mohamed Attougui, Ben Affan, Thaer Al-Shayei, Hayat Kamille
Director: Matthew Michael Carnahan
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War Machine 

Brad Pitt as General Glen McMahon in War Machine, one of the best Netflix war movies

(Image credit: Francois Duhamel / Netflix)

Set during the summer of 2009, War Machine focuses on General Glen McMahon (Brad Pitt), a four-star general who heads to Afghanistan to work on a plan to end the war there. However, he's forbidden from requesting more soldiers, which he does anyway. This decision has far-reaching consequences, particularly when a journalist writes an exposé that aims to completely discredit McMahon and jeopardizes his mission.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 49%
Cast: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hayes, Anthony Michael Hall, John Magaro, Emory Cohen, Topher Grace
Director: David Michôd
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Operation Finale 

The characters of Operation Finale, one of the best Netflix war movies, at a table

(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Set in the 1960s, World War II has ended 15 years ago, but there are still plenty of Nazi officers and others involved in the abuse and murder of millions of Jewish people scattered around the globe. Operation Finale sees a team of Israeli agents as they travel to Argentina to find one man in particular: Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi officer believed to have organized the transportation of victims to the concentration camps. As you can probably imagine, Eichmann won't go down easily, and this creates plenty of drama as well as some real nail-biting moments throughout. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 64%
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Melanie Laurent, Lior Raz, Nick Kroll
Director: Chris Weitz
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The Photographer of Mauthausen

A soldier and prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp in The Photographer of Mauthausen, one of the best Netflix war movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

Another movie based on true events, The Photographer of Mauthausen focuses on Spanish photographer Francesc Boix's (Casas) attempt to collect and save evidence of the horrible truth of what happened to millions of innocent Jewish people inside the Nazi concentration camp in Mauthausen. Of course, there are plenty of people who would prefer to have it erased all together, so Boix's job is anything but simple. It’s a moving and at times infuriating reminder of the horrific realities so many suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Cast: Mario Casas, Alain Hernandez, Macarena Gomez, Mac Rodriguez
Director: Mar Targarona
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First They Killed My Father 

Sareum Srey Moch in First They Killed My Father, one of the best netflix war movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

If you ignored this movie for years because it was written and directed by Angelina Jolie, it’s time to give it a chance. First They Killed My Father tells an important and often-ignored story of the Khmer Rouge and the terrors the regime unleashed on the people of Cambodia in 1975. The four-year long reign cost nearly two million people their lives. To show the real human impact of this terrible time, the movie focuses on 5-year-old Loung Ung who's forced to leave her home in Phnom Penh and made to train as a child soldier as her siblings are imprisoned in labor camps. Admittedly, this is a very hard watch, but perhaps the most important one on the list.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Cast: Sareum Srey Moch, Phoeung Kompheak, Sveng Socheata, Tharoth Sam
Director: Angelina Jolie
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The King 

Timothée Chalamet in The King, one of the best Netflix war movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

Taking a big leap back from the 20th century, The King is based on several different plays from William Shakespeare's Henriad and centers on the rise of Henry V following his father's death as he learns what it means to be a leader of his people. Chalamet is an unconventional Henry V but does a great job here of showing the trepidation the king had about taking power as well as the transformation into a truly formidable political figure.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson, Dean-Charles Chapman
Director: David Michôd
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Jennifer Still

Jennifer is a writer and editor from Brooklyn covering all things entertainment, lifestyle, and tech. She has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, Glamour, Bon Appetit, Decider, and many more and spends her days writing about all the shows, movies, and music she's obsessed with. She's always fuelled by iced coffee and hates slow walkers.