Although some of our favorite films are pretty “out there” when it comes to pulling off some amazing feats, there are quite a few movie moments that Marines would love to train their asses off for and totally pull off.
In a hostage situation, shooting around the victim and nailing the assailant would come in quite handy — if we could master it. But we doubt we ever could.
How awesome would this be?
2. Shooting out the floor (Underworld)
In many cases, service members have to find clever ways to evacuate from a desperate situation. In 2003’s Underworld, Selene (played by Kate Beckinsale) shoots the floor out in order to escape from vicious werewolves.
This is a great idea; you know, if the physics were possible and humans could handle 20-foot drops.
If it worked for her, it should work in real life.
3. Inverting you fighter jet (Top Gun)
When flying in an aerial dogfight, there’s no better way to send the enemy an FU message like Maverick’s in 1986’s Top Gun. He managed to fly inverted and flip the bird to his rival flying ace.
This feat is near impossible, but “Mav” makes it look easy as hell.
They went ballistic!
4. Putting on a parachute in mid-air (Eraser)
In 1996, director Chick Russell took on a stunt that had audience asking, “How did they do that?” when U.S. Marshal John “The Eraser” Kruger threw a parachute outside of a speeding plane at high-attitude then retrieves the “chute” in mid-air.
We think that’s pretty badass.
Who wants to go skydiving?
5. The backbend bullet dodge (The Matrix)
At times, Marines fight in close quarters combat when charging in enemy territory, and, unfortunately, sometimes they get shot. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they could just dodge incoming rounds like Nero? We think so.
6. Shooting someone through their scope (Saving Private Ryan)
Steven Spielberg knows how to tell an effective story, and he did just that directing 1998’s critically-acclaimed Saving Private Ryan.
After showing the world how American troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, he brilliantly captured the moment when Pvt. Jackson (played by Barry Pepper) takes out a German sniper with a perfectly aimed round right through his scope.
Although it’s reported Marine legend Carlos Hathcock made this historic shot, the myth has been both deemed both “busted” and “plausible” by the same people — the Myth Busters. Regardless, we want to be able to pull it off again, and again. Mostly for bragging rights.
Few cinematic crime fighters are more revered than Inspector Harry Callahan, from Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film, Dirty Harry. Before that, it might have been Frank Bullitt, as portrayed by Steve McQueen in 1968’s Bullitt. Both movies are centered around a hard-boiled police detective working the streets of San Francisco. Frank Bullitt was fighting mafia hitmen while Harry Callahan was trying to bring down an insane serial killer.
Both of these fictional detectives are based on one man: real-life San Francisco detective, Dave Toschi.
At his desk in San Francisco’s Hall of Justice, one might not have picked out the man in a bow tie as someone who served in the 24th Infantry Division in Korea. It was the unit that took the brunt of a full-scale North Korean invasion with no reinforcements in sight, the unit that held the Pusan Perimeter for months on end, and the unit that pushed the Chinese back to the 38th Parallel the very next year. David Toschi was that guy, but he truly made his name as a police detective, cleaning the streets of San Francisco for 32 years.
He joined the force right after leaving the military, in 1953. His ties, signature suits, and “exaggerated” trench coats earned him the attention of the San Fran news media, but his work was his enduring legacy – and what ended up translated to the silver screen.
Even though Toschi’s flair won him attention from the media, it was his biggest case that earned him the most acclaim – and would later be his downfall. He began working homicide in 1966. Just three years in, he was assigned to work the murder investigation of cab driver Paul Stine. Stine picked up a passenger who wanted to be taken from Geary Street to Maple Street in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights neighborhood. Just one block North of Maple, the passenger shot Stine in the head, then took his keys, wallet, and a portion of his bloody shirt.
No one knew why until three days later, when the Zodiac sent a threatening letter to the San Francisco Chronicle with a piece of Stine’s shirt, to prove the cabbie was a victim of the Zodiac; the only time Zodiac killed inside the city.
Toschi estimated that he investigated 2,000-5,000 people while looking for Zodiac but the killer was never found. Toschi left homicide in 1978 and retired in 1985. Toschi was reassigned from the Zodiac case in 1977 after it was revealed that the detective sent so-called fake “fan letters” about his own performance in the case to the San Francisco Chronicle. Zodiac was active from 1969 through the early 1970s but sent letters to the paper for years.
Zodiac had a confirmed seven victims but claimed as many as 37. His last confirmed victim was Stine, and his last letter to the paper came in 1978. The prime suspect in the Zodiac case – and the man Toschi always suspected – was U.S. Navy veteran and schoolteacher, Arthur Leigh Allen.
“Why didn’t we get this guy?” Toschi once asked the Chronicle. “I ended up with a bleeding ulcer over this case. It still haunts me. It always will.“
Toschi could never find enough evidence to bring Allen to trial, despite spending nine years on the case. Toschi’s other cases include bringing down a gang of murderers calling themselves the “Death Angels.” The group committed racially-motivated killings against white victims. They are known to have killed at least 15 but may be responsible for as many as 73 murders in San Francisco in 1974.
Dubbed the “Zebra Murders,” they caused widespread panic in the city of San Francisco at a time when the city was still reeling from the exploits of the Zodiac. Toschi was part of the team that helped bring the gang down and put them away for life.
It was Zodiac that kept his attention, but he never managed to pin the killer down.
“I’m not a vengeful type, but when a life is taken, there must be justice,” he said.
In the years following his service on the SFPD, he took a job doing private security and even as a technical advisor on the 2007 David Fincher film, Zodiac, watching actor Mark Ruffalo portray him on screen.
Every October 11, from 1970 until 2017, Toschi sat in his car at the same Presidio Heights location where Paul Stine was murdered by the Zodiac, wondering what he missed. Toschi died in January 2018 at the age of 86.
When it comes to the events of Dec. 7, 1941 — “a date which will live in infamy” — two films stand out.
There is the 1970 classic “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” which featured some of the biggest directors from American and Japanese cinema.
And then there is the 2001 film “Pearl Harbor,” directed by Michael Bay, and which had major stars like Academy Award winners Ben Affleck, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Jon Voight.
So, which film was better?
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Pros: This film really delved into the history of the attack, including many of the factors as they were known back then. The strategic context of Japan’s decision to launch the attack is covered here.
Within the very real limits of special effects technology, you experience the attack. The cast plays the roles well — remarkable given the lack of big-name stars. They also catch the American arrogance at the time – underestimating Japan while at the same time knowing they were going to hit us somewhere.
Using American and Japanese talent also brought much more realism to this film, bringing a very good balance. The footage was so good, it was re-used in a number of other World War II epics, and for a flashback in a Magnum, P.I. episode!
Cons: The special effects are pretty cheesy in some cases. You also catch historical anachronisms – like the presence of USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Also, this film is 46 years old – in some ways, scholarship and history has overtaken it.
Pros: The special effects make the experience of the attack far more intense. You also have some very good talent on screen, including three who won various Academy Awards. There were other future stars as well, including Josh Hartnett (“Black Hawk Down”) and Jennifer Garner (“Alias,” “The Kingdom,” “Elektra”).
Cons: Where do we start? How about the contrived storylines, particularly with Ben Affleck’s character? Maybe the unrealistic stuff as well, like the implausible selection of the characters played by Affleck and Hartnett to take part in the Doolittle Raid?
Not to mention the still-obvious errors (many of the “ships” hit in the film were Spruance-class destroyers in reserve). Not to mention the distracting romantic triangle. The biggest con is that we had a chance to capitalize on 30 years of new scholarship on World War II, and we got melodrama instead.
Which of these films comes out better? Believe it or not, the classic “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” despite its age, holds up much better.
So check out these military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe are true:
1. Michael Bay explosions
Michael Bay is widely known for his amazing camera moves and is hands down one of the best action directors out there. He has mastered the ability to move audiences through the battle space while providing them with an intense adrenaline rush…
…but he needs to work explosions because they look like fireworks.
Here’s a real man’s explosion:
Okay, so this one is a nuke explosion — but you get the point. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)
2. Cleaning bathrooms with toothbrushes
After speaking to a few Annapolis graduates and other military veterans, no one can recall seeing a Midshipman cleaning the bathroom using a toothbrush. It could have happened a long time ago, but not in the last few decades.
3. Taking off on your own
War is very dangerous. Leaving your squad to go run down the enemy by yourself through a sea of maze-like structures for a little extra payback is highly improbable.
The 1997 science fiction classic, Starship Troopers, is a futuristic thrill ride filled with larger-than-life characters and heart-pounding situations. What separates this cinematic masterpiece, however, is the source material.
The directorial prowess of Paul Verhoeven and the military advising of the legendary Dale Dye (who also plays “General”) combined to create what has become one of the most watched, influential, and beloved military movies of all time. Here’s what makes it so freakin’ motivating.
The Federation’s mobile infantry division is basically the Marine Corps of the future. There’s an uncanny parallel between the two services’ leadership values, extreme enforcement of standards, and emphasis on combat readiness.
6. Volunteer spirit.
The Federation’s military service is an all-volunteer organization that believes in attrition. In the book, there is no pursuit or punishment for those who do not show up to ship out for basic training.
Those who feel this new way of life is not for them can simply sign form 1248 and take a stroll down washout lane.
5. Hands-on instructional style.
Senior drill instructors may demand total dedication and effort from their recruits, but they also instruct, inform, and cultivate an atmosphere of learning.
4. Gender equality.
There are no males or females in the mobile infantry: only troopers. Everything is equal. This includes opportunities for leadership, responsibilities, occupations, and even billeting and rain rooms. (showers)
3. Inter-service relations and fraternization policies.
Services work together in harmony to accomplish the mission. Whether you’re an officer or enlisted, there is a standing open-door policy for venting concerns.
2. Community outreach.
The mobile infantry may be an armed force with a primary mission of fighting the human race’s enemies, but they also take the time to make an impact on the community and set a positive example for the youth.
In any case, it’s probably the coolest thing any movie spy was ever issued. James Bond, with his “00” designation has one, and maybe a whole handful of real-world MI6 agents do too — because they’re real.
The result was no, of course they didn’t. But what it did reveal was a look at how the intelligence agency operates, especially in regards to targeted killings. It turns out British operatives are allowed to kill their enemies.
But first they need a Class Seven Authorisation and the personal signature of the Foreign Secretary.
Richard Dearlove, the former head of Britain’s spy agency, revealed this during the inquiry. Diana and her lover, Dodi al-Fayed, were killed in a 1997 car accident in Paris. Ten more agents were required to give testimony in 2008 as the royal family faced accusations of wrongdoing from al-Fayed’s father, Mohamed.
Actually getting the Class Seven Authorisation is easier than it sounds. According to Dearlove’s testimony, once the paperwork is finished, it has to be signed off by a “senior regional official.” Then, it would have to go through the chief of the agency — in Diana’s case, it would have been Dearlove.
After that, it would have to “go down restricted channels to the Foreign Secretary.”
Socialism turns even the smallest tasks into a whole bureaucratic ordeal. I bet the process was much smoother when Maggie Thatcher was in office.
Managing an infantry squad is similar to a sports coach shifting players around to positions that best fit their strengths and talents. Since Marines aren’t created equal, capitalizing on those strengths and building up weakness is why the U.S. military is such a juggernaut today.
On special occasions, a Marine infantry squad patrol is comprised of a platoon leader (if he decides to go), a squad leader, three fire team leaders, three SAW gunners, and six riflemen.
This all, of course, depends on how your squad is made up — we’re even going to throw in a Company Gunny for sh*ts and giggles.
Hollywood is infamous for screwing up just about every detail when it comes to the military, but one thing that especially grinds grunts’ gears is how they portray the use of grenades.
Grenades are extremely deadly tools of destruction that, honestly, are a lot of fun to throw — but they are too often misused in fiction. They’re easily one of the most tactically crucial weapons used in combat, but if you were operating exclusively on movie knowledge, you’d be in terrible shape (or shapes).
In general, movies would have you believe that grenades are just a step beneath MOABs. The reality of grenades is much like the reality of that online date you’re about to go on. When you first see it in real life, your first thought is probably going to be, “that’s it?”
It’s not some huge, f*ck-off fireball, it’s just a poof of smoke and shrapnel.
You should probably still stay away from it, though — both the date and the grenade.
Projectile grenades are NOT rockets or missiles
When you see some badass in a military movie shoot a grenade launcher, it looks a lot someone shooting a rocket or a missile, but that’s not the case. Grenade launchers are indirect fire weapons. They operate on the same principle as a mortar or artillery gun — there’s an arc.
Pulling the pin with your teeth
Pulling the pin on a grenade is easy, but it’s not that easy. If you plan to pull the pin with your teeth, set up a dental appointment because you’re going to rip at least three pearly whites from your mouth.
Just slow down and pull it with your hand, Rambo.
We’ve seen way too many characters in movies yell, “grenade!” when lobbing one out. That is not what you want to communicate down the line when you are the one throwing it. Yelling, “grenade” is reserved for alerting the rest of your unit that an explodey-boy has landed in your position — and anyone near you should get the f*ck out of the way.
The term you’re looking for is, “frag out!” Yelling anything else puts your boys at risk.
One movie trope you may shake your head and cluck your tongue at is when a character jumps just outside of the explosion radius of a grenade and emerges unscathed. The fact is, even if you escape the explosion, your ass is going to be pumped full of metal. In real life, that bad boy has a casualty radius, which means you can still get wounded when you’re well beyond the explosion.
The kill radius of your typical fragmentation grenade is 5 meters, the casualty radius is 15 meters, but shrapnel can travel as far as 230 meters.
Although it’s not considered an all-time military movie classic like “Full Metal Jacket” or “Stripes,” the 1995 military comedy “Major Payne” is an entertaining family film (with some salty language). The film stars comedian Damon Wayans as U.S. Marine Corps Major Benson Winifred Payne. Payne is a rough and tough Marine who becomes a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor after being discharged from active duty for not making lieutenant colonel. Payne’s job is to impart confidence and discipline in the rambunctious junior cadets and train them to win a military cadet competition.
The film has some funny and memorable lines – quoted in military training to this day – such as “What we have here is a failure to communicate” and “I’m gonna put my foot so far up your ass, the water on my knee will quench your thirst.” In between laughs, Major Payne bestows some surprising life lessons that apply to current service members, veterans, and society at large.
1. Career transitions are tough – expect setbacks
Major Payne is served his separation papers from the Marines in the beginning of the film. Just a week out of the service, Payne finds himself in jail after a failed attempt to become a police officer by slapping a man senseless during a training scenario.”It’s civilian life, sir. I had a minor setback,” Payne tells his former commander Gen. Decker, played by Albert Hall. Thanks to the help of his former commander, he lands the job as the JROTC instructor.
Lesson: Many people face a career change at some point in their lives. Setbacks are inevitable but it’s important to be patient. It is also important to use your network when looking for a new career.
2. Not everyone is sympathetic; mental toughness goes a long way
The gif above is Major Payne’s most famous quote. He gives his young cadets this verbal tirade as they struggle to complete an obstacle course in the pouring rain. Eventually, the persistence and will of the cadets lead them to overcome the obstacle course and achieve success.
Lesson: Not everyone will be sympathetic to your plight, no matter how difficult things are in your personal or professional life. When faced with challenges, being mentally strong and determined can help overcome any challenge, no matter the level of difficultly.
3. Keep trying to improve
In a classic drill instructor tone, Major Payne tells the young men, “You’re still a shit sandwich, you’re just not a soggy one” following a drill and ceremony routine. In his own unique way, the rough and tough character is acknowledging the effort put in by the boys to improve.
Lesson: Never stop trying to improve. You can always get better.
4. Don’t give up
For Major Payne, failure is not an option. He wants victory at all costs! In order to win the military games, he puts the cadets through hell. He shaves their heads, PTs them all day and makes them run in dresses in front of the whole school. Despite their disdain for the man and his tough training methods, the kids don’t quit.
Lesson: Life will bring challenges. Don’t let that prevent you from achieving your goals.
5. Teamwork is important
The cadets are a ragtag group from the beginning. Despite their differences, they build cohesion, delegate responsibilities and establish a common goal to win the military games.
Lesson: The value of camaraderie is vital in bringing a group of people to work well together no matter their differences. Working effectively as a team will bring success to any project whether you are in the civilian or military sector.
6. Loyalty is crucial
Major Payne is given the chance to return to active duty at the rank of lieutenant colonel. Initially, he chooses to take the job offer and leaves the boys high and dry before the competition. Eventually, his love and loyalty to the cadets brings him back to see his boys in the final event of the competition. He stays on as a JROTC instructor.
Lesson: It seems the thought of loyalty as a core tenet is slipping away to self-interest these days. Being loyal to friends, family or co-workers takes time and sacrifice. Believing in and devoting yourself to someone or something you care about is a great value to have for the rest of your life.
7. Self-confidence is essential
Major Payne instills confidence in all of his cadets, especially the smallest one in the group “Tiger.” He tells him a frightening version of “The Little Engine that Could,” and makes him the drill team leader. This gives Tiger the confidence he needs to trust his abilities. Tiger’s self-confidence shines through as the boys do a drill routine with a classic 90’s hip-hop beat and old-school rhymes. Tiger even breaks it down with the “Cabbage Patch” dance and some vintage Michael Jackson moves. His self-confidence helps him lead the team to victory.
Lesson: Trusting in your abilities will help you accomplish your goals. Believe in yourself.
8. Lighten up
Major Payne is a military badass. He takes his life and his work seriously but he begins to lighten up a bit during the movie. He even has a little fun on the dance floor with some sweet robot moves.
Lesson: There are times in life to be serious, but it’s ok to lighten up. Being able to enjoy life, relax, and not be so uptight can make life more enjoyable. YOLO.
In the first full trailer for Snowden, Oliver Stone’s biopic of the NSA contractor who leaked classified documents to the media in 2013, the director makes clear that he thinks Edward Snowden is an American hero.
The movie version of Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a good soldier who trains on broken legs without complaint for two weeks, aspired to serve in special forces and wants to join the CIA to serve his country. He is shocked by what he sees at the NSA and wants the rest of America to make an informed decision in the privacy versus security debate.
All of this matches up perfectly with Vietnam veteran Stone’s long-time movie obsessions with shadowy government figures and national security. After getting delayed twice, the movie finally opens in theaters on September 16.
At the end of June 2019, a new version of Avengers: Endgame will hit theaters, with a post-credits scene and new “surprises.”
On June 19, 2019, Insider reported that during a press junket for Spider-Man: Far From Home, Marvel president Kevin Feige confirmed the “rerelease” will happen on June 28, 2019, right before Far From Home hits theaters the following week. Feige made it clear that this wasn’t an extended cut but that “there will be a version going into theaters with a bit of a marketing push with a few new things at the end of the movie.” He continued: “If you stay and watch the movie, after the credits, there’ll be a deleted scene, a little tribute, and a few surprises. “
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a long history of including post-credits scenes, with mixed results. In April 2019, audiences who were excitedly anticipating the post-credit scene after Endgame were treated to a trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home instead. Chris Hemsworth later teased a “deleted scene” from the film on Jimmy Fallon. However, the “scene” ended up being a clip of the Australian actor singing a few lines of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails.
The point is when it came out in April 2019, Endgame was unique because it was the first MCU film that didn’t have a post-credits scene setting up what would happen in future installments. Now, apparently, that will no longer be the case.
As for the “surprises,” that’s anyone’s guess. Maybe one deleted scene will help explain what the hell happened to Loki and how he has his own time-traveling TV show?
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
It has been said that all men are created equal. If you have spent any time in uniform, then you know that just simply isn’t true. Some of us are just better, faster, smarter, stronger individuals.
Such is the case with August O’Neil. Not only is he one of the world’s elite as an Air Force Pararescueman, he has multiple gold medals from multiple international events that he won after he lost a limb in Afghanistan.
His life is the stuff that movies are made about, literally. Here are the top five reasons you should know August O’Neil.
August O’Neil joined the Air Force in 2005 and graduated from his pipeline training in 2008. If you aren’t aware of the level of elite physical ability and mental capacity you need to become a PJ, here’s a quick rundown:
First, you have to pass what was once known as the Indoctrination Course. Indoc alone has a fail rate north of 80% and that is just the door to get through to more training. That ‘more training’ equates to literal years spent learning the job.
4. First amputee to return to USAF
After suffering such an injury, many of us would go to some dark places. O’Neil has made it his complete life’s mission to get back to his team.
As of late 2017, he was medically cleared and re-certified on many of his required tasks. O’Neil will likely be the first amputee ever to return to active duty in the Air Force.
Yes, that’s correct. With one functional leg and the other having been through 20 surgeries, he won five different medals.
For added sh*ts and giggles, O’Neil also won gold for Kayaking at the Valor Games in 2013.
2. Invictus Games
The Invictus games are right up there with the Paralympic Games and were created by Prince Harry. They are coming up on their third games this year and you can be certain that amazing things will happen there, too.
The games are aimed directly at the global injured veteran community, so it should be no surprise that O’Neil participates.
A feature film, That Others May Live, about O’Neil’s life from the moment he was injured to the present, has begun to gain some real traction. It is currently in pre-production with Paramount Pictures attached.
Whether it inspired them to enlist, or kept them entertained while serving downrange, there are certain movies that all soldiers know and love.
Super quotable lines, great stories, or intense combat scenes are just some of the reasons why we picked the following nine films as “must-watch” for soldiers.
These are our picks:
1. To Hell and Back (1955)
Plot: The true WWII story of Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in U.S. history. Based on the autobiography of Audie Murphy who stars as himself in the film.
Reason to watch: Instead of settling for actors trying to recreate battlefield heroics, why not watch the real-life soldier do it? That’s what you’ll see in “To Hell and Back,” the film that follows the life of Audie Murphy, the most-decorated soldier of World War II. Murphy stars as himself in this film, which kicked off a 21-year acting career after his Army service.
2. The Longest Day (1962)
Plot: The events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view.
Reason to watch: “The Longest Day” is an epic film, and one of IMDB’s 100 greatest war films. It also stars John Wayne, need we say more? Although it’s not perfect, the film gives insight into the incredible events of Operation Overlord, from all sides of the battle.
3. Patton (1970)
Plot: The World War II phase of the career of the controversial American general, George S. Patton.
Reason to watch: George C. Scott gives a masterful portrayal of the controversial Army general during World War II. The opening speech alone is worth watching, with Patton giving a rousing speech to troops that opens with the line, “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”
4. Glory (1989)
Plot: Robert Gould Shaw leads the US Civil War’s first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of both his own Union army and the Confederates.
Reason to watch: Matthew Broderick plays Col. Robert Gould Shaw in this real-life tale of the first company of all-black soldiers in the Civil War. The film, which won three Oscars, also has memorable performances from Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. It explores themes that all soldiers can learn from: Courage, honor, and doing the right thing, even if it’s the unpopular decision.
5. Hamburger Hill (1987)
Plot: A very realistic interpretation of one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
Reason to watch: Somewhat overshadowed by Oliver Stone’s “Platoon,” this film follows the lives of one squad of Airborne soldiers during a battle to take Hill 937 in Vietnam — an unremarkable piece of real estate that became known as “Hamburger Hill” after casualties mounted in multiple assaults. The film realistically depicts soldiers at war in Vietnam, the dynamic between soldiers in battle, and the heroism some soldiers display in such extreme circumstances.
6. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Plot: A U.S. Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers in World War II.
Reason to watch: Another classic World War II film, “The Dirty Dozen” hosted an incredible cast of stars: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, and many more. Unlike other World War II flicks that often followed real-life events, this movie had an interesting premise: An Army major recruits 12 felons for a suicide mission behind enemy lines, and if they succeed, they will have their sentences reduced.
7. A Bridge Too Far (1977)
Plot: A historical telling of the failed attempt to capture several bridges on a road to Germany in World War II, in a campaign called Operation Market-Garden.
Reason to watch: The film recounts the unsuccessful allied Operation Market Garden, which was the largest airborne operation at the time during World War II. Based on the book by Cornelius Ryan (who also wrote “The Longest Day”), the film is loaded with big-name stars. Though the film is a bit long (nearly 3 hours), it shows an allied battle that unfortunately did not end with “the good guys winning.”
8. Black Hawk Down (2001)
Plot: 123 elite U.S. soldiers drop into Somalia to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord and find themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily-armed Somalis.
Reason to watch: Based on the book by journalist Mark Bowden (which is an absolute must-read), “Black Hawk Down” details the failed attempt to capture a Somali warlord — an operation that should have lasted 15 minutes — that unfortunately does not go according to plan. After two helicopters are shot down, soldiers are shown reacting and adapting to the changing events, often in heroic fashion. From depicting soldiers preparing for a mission, how they respond to irregular warfare, and the actions of Medal of Honor recipients Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart, this film is a must-see.
9. Saving Private Ryan
Plot: Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
Reason to watch: Just the first ten minutes with the film’s incredible depiction of the Normandy landings on D-Day in 1944 make this a must-watch. After this sequence, however, there is plenty to stick around for: Tom Hanks wonderful portrayal of Capt. Miller, the banter of soldiers as they search the French countryside, and the heroic “last stand” at a bridge the troops need to keep the Germans away from.
10. Platoon (1986)
Plot: A young recruit in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.
Reason to watch: Told from the perspective of Chris Taylor (played by Charlie Sheen), “Platoon” gives an inside look at what it was like for a grunt on the ground in Vietnam. Besides showing infantry life and all its hardships, the film also boasts incredible performances from Willem Dafoe as Sgt. Elias, and Tom Berenger as Staff Sgt. Barnes. It’s also worth noting that this film had an extra level of realism to it, with its director (Oliver Stone) and military technical advisor (Dale Dye) both having served in Vietnam.
11. We Were Soldiers (2002)
Plot: The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War and the soldiers on both sides that fought it.
Reason to watch: Mel Gibson brilliantly portrays then-Lt. Col. Hal Moore as he leads his unit in the first major battle of the Vietnam war. But there are so many great performances in this film (based on the book “We Were Soldiers Once… and Young,” which opens by saying that “every damn Hollywood movie got it wrong.” From the portrayal of the gruff combat veteran Sgt. Maj. Plumley and pilot and Medal of Honor recipient Bruce Crandall, to the hardship endured at home by the Army wives, this film gets it right.