10 Best War Movies on HBO Max

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Grace
December 12, 2023

War movies maintain their popularity due to their strategic planning, meticulous execution, gripping intensity, and blending of action and drama. Often enriched with historical insights and biographical elements, these movies craft compelling narratives. Max offers a wide selection of outstanding war films, and here are the 10 best ones you can stream right now. This selection includes multiple Oscar-winning or nominated masterpieces.

Platoon (1986)

  • Runtime: 2h
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Action, Drama
  • Director: Oliver Stone
  • Cast: Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen
  • IMDb Rating: 8.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Tomatometer; 93% Audience Score

Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning Vietnam drama with Charlie Sheen as a recruit who gets more than he bargained for on the battlefield. Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) leaves his university studies to enlist in combat duty in Vietnam in 1967. Once he’s on the ground in the middle of battle, his idealism fades. He finds himself caught in a battle of wills between two sergeants, one good and the other evil. A shrewd examination of the brutality of war and the duality of man in conflict.

Drawing from director Oliver Stone’s own encounters in Vietnam, Platoon avoids simple moralizing to offer a gritty, firsthand look at war. Supported by exceptional performances, the film is powerful, painful, and must-see. It stands as one of the most realistic and genuine war movies created. In this portrayal, there are no heroes, only those who endure and survive. Platoon won four Oscars, including Best Director for Stone.

The Battle of Algiers (1966)

  • Runtime: 2h 2m
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Genre: Classics, Drama
  • Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
  • Cast: Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi, Brahim Haggiag
  • IMDb Rating: 8.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 99% Tomatometer; 95% Audience Score

In the 1950s, fear and violence escalate as the people of Algiers fight for independence from the French government. It is a story of Algiers revolting against the French Foreign Legion.

The Battle of Algiers offers a documentary-like portrayal of a nation’s struggle against colonization, immersing viewers in the front lines with authentic intensity. It goes beyond a film, delving into the harsh realities of war, oppression, and violence. This film refrains from vilifying or glorifying either side, striving for an objective portrayal of the harsh realities. Viewers won’t find solace or validation. Instead, it consistently evokes a sense of sorrow. A masterpiece of dramatic reality in cinematic history, it’s a must-watch – a movie shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

  • Runtime: 2h 42m
  • Rating: PG
  • Genre: Classics, Action
  • Director: David Lean
  • Cast: William Holden, Sir Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa, James Donald
  • IMDb Rating: 8.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 96% Tomatometer; 93% Audience Score

The film is an adaption of the Pierre Bouelle novel. British POWs are forced to build a railway bridge across the river Kwai for their Japanese captors in occupied Burma, not knowing that the allied forces are planning a daring commando raid through the jungle to destroy it.

The Bridge on the River Kwai earned seven out of eight Oscar nominations including the Best Picture. This unconventional war epic provides a gritty and intricate exploration of what happens when Japanese POW camp prisoners build a railway bridge. It’s an extraordinary examination of wartime fervor and the downfall of pride. Few action films boast a better ensemble cast.

Dunkirk (2017)

  • Runtime: 1h 47m
  • Rating: PG-13 (Some Language | Intense War Experience)
  • Genre: Action, Drama, History
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden

  • IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 92% Tomatometer; 81% Audience Score

Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-winning telling of the World War II battle at Dunkirk in which 330,000 Allied troops had to be evacuated.

In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian, and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.

In Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan tells three stories from the Battle of Dunkirk, covering a week on the beach, a day on the water, and an hour in the air. It’s a rare war film that centers on loss, yet it remains uplifting as it portrays perseverance and heroism despite defeat. This World War II epic is technically impressive and stands out for its unique timeline, making it one of a kind. The film won three Oscars, including Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing.

The Hurt Locker (2008)

  • Runtime: 2h 11m
  • Rating: R (War Violence | Language)
  • Genre: Thriller, Action
  • Director: Kathryn Bigelow
  • Cast: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty
  • IMDb Rating: 7.5/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 97% Tomatometer; 84% Audience Score

Staff Sgt. William James, Sgt. J.T. Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge are members of a bomb disposal unit in Baghdad. As their tour of duty enters its final weeks, the men face a set of increasingly hazardous situations, any of which could end their lives in an explosive instant.

Winner of the 2008 Best Picture Oscar, The Hurt Locker explores the Iraq War’s turmoil by following a bomb disposal unit led by SSgt. This film offers both exhilarating suspense and a thought-provoking look at the war’s impact. The movie secured six Oscars, with Director Kathryn Bigelow making history as the first woman to win Best Director. Jeremy Renner also received a Best Actor nomination for his role.

The Tuskegee Airmen (1995)

  • Runtime: 1h 47m
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama, Period Piece
  • Director: Robert Markowitz
  • Cast: Laurence Fishburne, Allen Payne, Malcolm-Jamal Warner
  • IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 88% Tomatometer; 79% Audience Score

High-flying drama about the “fighting 99th” – the first squadron of African American U.S. Army Air Corps – overcame racist opposition to become one of the finest US fighter groups in World War II.

This HBO Original film faced criticism for clichéd dialogue and slow scenes, yet the public generally had a positive view. It’s an inspiring tale of bravery and determination with a strong cast. The film highlights a lesser-known aspect of the war, shedding light on a group often overlooked, and weaves a touching narrative around it. While a bit predictable and melodramatic, it remains genuinely inspirational.

Europa Europa (1990)

  • Runtime: 1h 53m
  • Rating: R (Mature Treatment of Holocaust)
  • Genre: Biographical Drama
  • Director: Agnieszka Holland
  • Cast: Marco Hofschneider, Julie Delpy, Hanns Zischler
  • IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Tomatometer; 91% Audience Score

A drama based on the life of Solomon Perel who suppresses his Jewish heritage to avoid certain doom at the hands of the Nazis. Jewish teenager Salek is separated from his family when they flee their home in Germany after Kristallnacht. He ends up in a Russian orphanage for two years, but when Nazi troops reach Russia he convinces them he is a German Aryan, and becomes an invaluable interpreter and then an unwitting war hero. His deception becomes increasingly difficult to maintain after he joins the Hitler Youth and finds love with beautiful Leni, a fervent anti-Semite.

Notably intense, this film intricately portrays a boy’s relentless struggle for survival, even at a great price. It’s an incredible story, the kind that only true stories can provide. It is based on Solomon Perel’s memoirs that unfolds uniquely. Through a chain of extraordinary events, Perel managed to survive the challenges of the war.

Seven Samurai (1954)

  • Runtime: 3h 27m
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Genre: Classics, Drama
  • Director: Akira Kurosawa
  • Cast: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Kuninori Kodo
  • IMDb Rating: 8.6/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 100% Tomatometer; 97% Audience Score

Farmers from a village exploited by bandits hire a veteran samurai for protection, who gathers six other samurai to join him teach the people how to defend themselves, and the villagers provide the soldiers with food. A giant battle occurs when 40 bandits attack the village.

Seven Samurai stands as one of Director Akira Kurosawa’s finest works, earning two Oscar nominations upon its release. This epic adventure classic weaves a captivating narrative, unforgettable characters, and breathtaking action scenes that contribute to its status as one of the most impactful films ever created. Centered around the bond among warriors and the virtue of sacrifice, it has served as inspiration for numerous war films that followed.

Braveheart (1995)

  • Runtime: 2h 58m
  • Rating: R (Brutal Medieval Warfare)
  • Genre: Epic Battle, Biographical Drama
  • Director: Mel Gibson
  • Cast: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Catherine McCormack
  • IMDb Rating: 8.3/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 76% Tomatometer; 85% Audience Score

Mel Gibson directs and stars in this rousing 1995 Best Picture Oscar-winner about 13th-century Scottish patriot William Wallace, who leads his countrymen in a rebellion to free his homeland from the tyranny of King Edward I of England.

Braveheart isn’t a typical war film. It starts with Wallace as a rebel with a small group, but it transforms into a massive medieval war where he leads thousands to victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The film’s themes of motivation and dedication remain relevant across centuries. This relatability, along with Gibson’s direction and Wallace’s screenplay, makes Braveheart a timeless classic.

300 (2006)

  • Runtime: 1h 57m
  • Rating: R (Nudity | Graphic Battle Sequences | Some Sexuality)
  • Genre: Epic battles, Action
  • Director: Zack Snyder
  • Cast: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West
  • IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 61% Tomatometer; 89% Audience Score

An epic look at the Battle of Thermopylae in which 300 Spartans held off the massive Persian army. In 480 B.C. a state of war existed between Persia, led by King Xerxes, and Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas, king of the Greek city-state of Sparta, leads his badly outnumbered warriors against the massive Persian army. Though certain death awaits the Spartans, their sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against their common enemy.

Opinions on the historical epic 300 may vary among critics and audiences, but its technical excellence is undeniable. Serving as a technical marvel, the film faithfully translates Frank Miller’s comic-book depiction of the Battle of Thermopylae onto the screen. Directed by Zack Snyder, it’s a powerful, intense, and grand work. Following its unexpected box office triumph in the United States, the film holds the potential for a lasting impact.

How to download and save your favorite HBO Max war movies?

The Max app allows you to save shows and movies for offline viewing. Yet, there are several constraints to consider: downloads are exclusive to ad-free plans, content can only be downloaded on mobile devices, and there’s a download cap. Once you start watching a download, you need to finish it within 48 hours before it expires, while unwatched content lasts for 30 days. Upon expiration, you need to renew or remove the download.

If you are seeking an unrestricted download capacity and the freedom to watch without time limitations, the Pazu HBO Max Video Downloader is your optimal choice. It allows you to download Max movies and TV shows with even HBO Max ad-supported tier.

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