The assortment of best war movies on HBO Max is undeniably well-thought-out as compared to the big streaming providers. A relatively large portion of the best war movies is from the vintage era. There is a variety of the best war movies on HBO Max ranging all the way back to the early years of cinema ––films that continue to move audiences today, from cynical comedies to postwar Italian neorealist masterpieces.
It isn’t necessary that the best war movies on HBO Max are from an old era. Several of these are quite recent. And they range from humor to tragedy, from patriotic rah-rah action to melancholy thoughts on how hellish war is. Whatever genre of movie you’re searching for on HBO Max, we have enlisted the best war movies on HBO Max for our fellow audience. Unfortunately, the audience who resides in Canada cannot watch these movies. However, we have a solution for Canadians, HBO Max Canada
Related: Best Sci-Fi Movies on HBO Max
1. 12 Strong (2018)
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña
Runtime: 130 minutes
Among our list, “12 Strong” is one of the best war movies on HBO Max. The decision by the creators of “12 Strong” to cast the actor who plays the mighty Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a role inspired by a real military hero was a shrewd and intelligent one. A genuine and at times unnerving film about the lengthy, grueling, and brutal war in Afghanistan is presented to the audience, drawing them into the storyline.
The movie “12 Strong,” which is inspired by Doug Stanton’s novel “Horse Soldiers,” is set in the early days of the conflict, shortly after the September 11 attacks triggered military action. When Mitch Nelson, a U.S. Army captain and commander of an elite Green Beret team, aims to take over the Taliban throughout the north of Afghanistan, they are met with hatred and bloodshed.
2. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
Stars: Jean Martin, Yacef Saad, Brahim Haggiag
Runtime: 121 minutes
The Algerian War dramatized in this hugely famous 1966 film takes place during the 1950s and 1960s in the North African nation of Algeria, during which insurgent guerillas fought against occupying French government forces. Non-Professional performers, including those who served in the conflict, portray the characters in an unbiased newsreel style that makes you feel like you’re there. As a result, it comes across as incredibly realistic.
Several armed anti-colonial groups, including the Black Panthers and the Irish Republican Army, have claimed that their methods were inspired by the movie. The Pentagon played the film in 2003 in order to learn aspects of counterterrorism strategies for use in Iraq. However, even without the historical context, the picture is an incredible piece of work that continues to stand by itself, 55 years after its release, despite several imitations.
3. Paisan (1946)
Director: Roberto Rossellini
Stars: Carmela Sazio, Robert Van Loon, Dots Johnson
Runtime: 126 minutes
Italy is the location for this classic Italian neorealist picture by filmmaker Roberto Rossellini, which takes place at the end of World War II’s Italian campaign. They are six short stories on how conversation breaks down when people from different cultures and speaking different languages come together in a situation where they are on the verge of death.
There were three different screenwriters for each episode: Federico Fellini (who went to become one of the cinema’s greatest directors), Vasco Pratolini (who went on to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times), and Mario Bava (who went on to become one of cinema’s greatest writers). Almost all the incidents are both a bit hilarious (sarcastically) and completely heartbreaking at the same time securing the location on the list of the best war movies.
4. Rome, Open City (1945)
Director: Roberto Rossellini
Stars: Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani, Marcello Pagliero
Runtime: 103 minutes
After the Allies had taken Rome from the Nazis, director Roberto Rossellini produced this politically divisive, emotionally charged, and one of the best war movie dramas in Rome. It was made at a time when there was no movie industry in Italy, therefore it had to be done under extremely tough circumstances.
It’s a neorealist movie shot also on the streets of a military conflict city with primarily amateur actors. In 1943, when the city was still under German authority, brave resistance fighters stood up to the Nazis. Don Pietro Pellegrini, a priest active in the resistance who aids the younger warriors, comes the closest to being the main character.
5. Welcome to Sarajevo (1997)
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Stephen Dillane, Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei
Runtime: 102 minutes
‘Welcome to Sarajevo,’ a British war movie about the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, follows a journalist named Michael Henderson, who claims to believe in the importance of objectivity in journalism and strives to avoid becoming entangled in the operation he’s reporting on, whether physically or emotionally.
However, after reporting on an orphanage on the frontlines, where children are forced to live in dismal and hazardous conditions as a result of the conflict, his perspective changes. After his report is treated with disdain, he decides to adopt a little Bosnian girl called Emira, who appears to be an orphan. “Welcome to Sarajevo” is a rough, emotional film that examines conflict through the jaded but humane perspective of a combat journalist.
6. ‘71 (2014)
Director: Yann Demange
Stars: Jack O’Connell, Sam Reid, Sean Harris, Paul Popplewell, Jack Lowden.
Runtime: 99 minutes
In ’71, an underappreciated British thriller from the past decade, the “Troubles” in Ireland are transformed into a pseudo-horror and war movie. It’s a short, economical piece of filmmaking, clocking in at only 99 minutes and based on an uncomplicated concept about a British soldier (Jack O’Connell) who becomes detached from his squad during a riot in Belfast in 1971, at a time when British-Irish tensions were at their worst. A gripping piece of filmmaking, and a bleak look back at dreams that are still fresh in his mind, is his struggle to survive the night.
7. The African Queen (1951)
Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart; Katharine Hepburn; Robert Morley
Runtime: 105 minutes
At first impression, The African Queen appears to be an unusual war film, but it is actually the story of two middle-aged adults who find themselves caught up in the mayhem of the First World War. A blazing adventure tale about an autumn romance between a drunk river ship captain (Humphrey Bogart) and a Christian missionary (Katharine Hepburn), whose brother has just been slain by Germans in colonial Africa, the film is also worth seeing. A lovely John Huston masterpiece with still breathtaking location photography, both characters set out to go down the river and away from the grasp of the Germans.
8. The Alamo (2004)
Director: John Lee Hancock
Stars: Dennis Quaid; Billy Bob Thornton; Jason Patric; Patrick Wilson; Jordi Mollà; Emilio Echevarría
Runtime: 137 minutes
In spite of the fact that it is an ironically underappreciated rendition of the Alamo siege from filmmaker John Lee Hancock, The Alamo (2004) is indeed the greatest film representation of these events. A refreshing eye for historical accuracy rather than Texan mythmaking, the film delves into the lives of David Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton), James Bowie (Jason Patric), and William Travis (Patrick Wilson) with an open mind and a wart and all attitude.
It also portrays the events of the war in their original setting, at night and in the midst of turmoil, and draws attention to the previously unnoticed efforts of the Tejanos to the cause of Texan freedom.
9. A Bridge Too Far (1977)
Director: Richard Attenborough
Stars: Sean Connery; Ryan O’Neal. ; Michael Caine; Laurence Olivier.
Runtime: 176 minutes
A Bridge Too Far, the last of its type, is one of those vintage all-star military masterworks about World War II that were popular during the 1950s and 1970s. But this virtually all-British film is about one of the Allies’ most dismal setbacks, not one of their greatest triumphs: the collapse of Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands.
Director Richard Attenborough and screenwriter William Goldman attempt to cram everything in, which may be tiresome for some viewers. Others will be satisfied with a historically accurate (though too humorous) depiction of this fight starring Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford, and others.
10. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Matthew Modine; R. Lee Ermey. Gny; Vincent D’Onofrio; Adam Baldwin; Dorian Harewood.
Runtime: 116 minutes
Full Metal Jacket is a lyrical reflection on the ferocity of the Vietnam War from the viewpoint of a typically rational soldier who endured the brutality of boot camp. Stanley Kubrick’s visionary film depicts the whole range of emotions felt by the typical and unwilling Vietnam War recruit. This tragic war film will go down in history as one of the best war movies, thanks to the outstanding performance by R. Lee Ermey (a former real-life boot camp sergeant).
11. The Thin Red Line (1998)
Director: Terrence Malick
Stars: Jim Caviezel; Sean Penn; Nick Nolte; Kirk Acevedo; Penelope Allen.
Runtime: 170 minutes
The Thin Red Line is unique on this list because it delves into the specific combat techniques and strategies employed by the Japanese soldiers during their island campaign when the line between morality and success was crossed. A hesitant United States soldier (Jim Caviezel) who has decided to go AWOL is spending time with the people of a tiny South Pacific island when he is apprehended and compelled to re-join the ranks to battle the Imperial Japanese Army in WWII. With a cast full of emerging stars (including a heroic cameo by John Cusack), this film captures the sentiments felt by American troops when confronted with an unknown foe.
12. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Director: Terrence Malick
Stars: William Holden; Alec Guinness; Jack Hawkins; Sessue Hayakawa; James Donald.
Runtime: 170 minutes
The Bridge on the River Kwai, considered by some to be the finest war film of all time, is an introspective look at the POW scenario in Southeast Asia during World War II. British POW inmates are forced to build a railroad bridge across the River Kwai, led by their rule-following and patriotic Col. Nicholson (Alec Guinness), unknowing that an effort is underway to demolish it. Despite the fact that he was already a cinematic hero, Alec Guinness gives an exceptionally fine-tuned portrayal of the relentlessly proud colonel motivated to make history as they are compelled to erect this monument to war. This film earned seven Oscars for its well-told tale at the time, securing its place in history as being one of the finest classical films of all time.
13. The Hurt Locker (2008)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Stars: Jeremy Renner; Anthony Mackie; Brian Geraghty; Evangeline Lilly; Ralph Fiennes; David Morse; Guy Pearce
Runtime: 131 minutes
The Hurt Locker, directed by Point Break filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow, is a six-time Oscar winner and the best war movie on our list to remark on the brutality of the Iraq War. Replacement sergeants are notoriously difficult to work with, so when one is sent to a bomb squad, tensions are already high. His unconventional techniques, however perilous they may be, cause suspicion within the squad as to his capacity to handle the various challenges they face. Addiction to the lifestyle is an awful side effect of war that Jeremy Renner beautifully portrays in his first role before his breakout role (Marvel Universe).
14. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Tom Hanks; Edward Burns; Matt Damon; Tom Sizemore
Runtime: 169 minutes
Saving Private Ryan commences on the bloodied beaches of Normandy, quickly drawing attention to the fact of what they’re on about. When Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) is assigned the assignment of relieving a specific Private Ryan (whose three brothers were killed in combat), he must take his men inside enemy lines and fight the overwhelming German forces. This war movie, mainly based on true events, takes us through numerous storylines that immerse us in the pain endured by the young soldiers who served for all of us.
15. Apocalypse Now (1979)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Marlon Brando; Robert Duvall; Martin Sheen; Frederic Forrest; Albert Hall; Sam Bottoms; Larry Fishburne; Dennis Hopper
Runtime: 182 minutes
In this visually arresting account of the Vietnam War by legendary director/writer Francis Ford Coppola, a visionary tale of the conflict is depicted through evocative, metaphorical visuals. A rogue Special Forces Colonel who has persuaded himself and several locals that he is a deity is the target of an odd assignment handed to a Vietnam War officer. Creative and award-winning photography propels Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando’s roles in this picture, making it one of the most aesthetically innovative pieces of film ever made.
16. Fury (2014)
Director: David Ayer
Stars: Brad Pitt; Shia LaBeouf; Logan Lerman; Michael Peña; Jon Bernthal; Jason Isaacs; Scott Eastwood
Runtime: 134 minutes
Fury is a 2014 war film written and directed by David Ayer, starring an All-Star Cast.
Hitler orders a desperate last push in April 1945, as the Allies struggle to move into Nazi Germany. They had fought many battles and narrowly escaped an attack that killed the majority of their tank unit, headed by Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt). Wardaddy returns to the allied camp with a new assistance driver, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a fresh recruit who has only been in the Army for eight weeks and has never shot a gun save in basic training.
With the help of the Bible (Shia LaBeouf), Gordo (Michael Pea), and Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal), Norman tries to acquire the confidence of the rest of Fury’s gang. His squad is dispatched on a perilous mission in Nazi Germany to Hold the Line against advancing SS forces and safeguard a supply train. This may be their deadliest perilous expedition ever.
17. Dunkirk (2017)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Fionn Whitehead; Barry Keoghan; Mark Rylance; Tom Hardy; Damien Bonnard.
Runtime: 106 minutes
Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan were responsible for the visionary direction of the Academy Award-winning film Dunkirk. Through a variety of perspectives, this powerful film tells the story of the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II in France.
The departure of British soldiers from France, which occurs as a result of the country falling into the hands of Nazi invaders, is the central plot point of the film. Furthermore, several of the individuals in the film are utilized to illustrate the situation of British forces in France and the reasons for which they were forced to flee. Without a doubt, the film is unique and urges its viewers to preserve their courage and knowledge, even in the face of failure.
18. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Director: Mel Gibson
Stars: Andrew Garfield; Sam Worthington; Luke Bracey; Teresa Palmer; Hugo Weaving; Rachel Griffiths; Vince Vaughn
Runtime: 139 minutes
Hacksaw Ridge was created by a team of filmmakers, including Bill Mechanic, David Permut, and Paul Curry, who worked together to develop the film from the ground up. First and foremost, you should be aware that the film is centered on Desmond Doss, who was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Doss, the main character, finds it difficult to serve his country because of religious constraints imposed on him. Due to the fact that his faith does not let him choose weapons, he is disliked among troops. Finally, by saving his squadmates, Doss establishes himself as a model of remarkable bravery. Watch this film for the incredible sound mixing and Doss’s message, which is conveyed via his efforts.
So, there you have it: some of the best war movies on HBO Max that I believe you will want to add to your queue based on my recommendations. These films are about conflict and provide viewers a peek at some real-life incidents that have taken place across the globe. So be ready to watch some live sporting events on your television screen! Don’t forget to mention which one is your favorite!