I would definitely define myself as a film fanatic/enthusiast/addict. And I would say that two of my favourite genres are thrillers and war films. When I say “war films”, I mean the more realistic ones, rather than ones which are just made to have as many explosions as possible, or are a mix of the Sci-Fi and War genres. (Like, when an alien comes to Earth and there’s a big battle and loads of people die… that’s not really my thing)
So I decided to put together a list of my top favourite thrillers/war films that I’ve seen over the years. In no particular order…
I first watched this film when I was about 14 (I think), and again when I was studying History in Year 11 at GCSE when we were learning about the Vietnam War for our coursework. “Platoon” was made in 1986, and was directed by Oliver Stone, and stars a young Charlie Sheen as the protagonist. What I love about the film is that it doesn’t really glamorize war in the way that a lot of people think it is these days, with Video Games and all that. Stone wrote the script based on some of his own experiences in the Vietnam War, so as an audience member it is really quite realistic. One of the things I like about the script and the acting is that there are humorous moments, and all of a sudden it becomes really serious, and you can really identify with what the characters are going through. It’s quite emotional film as well, as we see the bond between the soldiers in this platoon, and also at the end when John C. McGinley’s character (also known as playing Doctor Cox in the sitcom “Scrubs”) has to stay in Vietnam longer than the rest of his platoon. It is a violent film, obviously because of the genre, so if you’re not a fan of seeing blood and dead people, then I would avoid watching “Platoon” (or any of the other films in my top favourites!)
I know this isn’t technically a “war film”, but I love it all the same. “Argo” is much more of a thriller, and focuses around the events of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and Iranian activists storm the American Embassy. The main story is about Ben Affleck’s character, Tony Mendez, a CIA agent, trying to come up with an effective plan to help some American hostages to escape. The plan they come up with is pretending they are film makers on a location scout for a science fiction film called “Argo”. The thing I love most about this film is that it is true to it’s genre as a thriller, and subtly builds up the tension, so right at the end of the film you’re on the edge of your seat hoping that the characters will be able to get out of the country safely. This film doesn’t have much gore and blood in it, so if you’re not a fan on that kind of thing, then “Argo” is probably a safe bet for you. I definitely recommend it.
- The Hurt Locker
I watched this film for the first time last night with my mum and my sister, and it was really great. It was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who became the first female director to win the Academy Award for Best Director, thanks to “The Hurt Locker”. The film stars Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie (amongst others) who work as part of a bomb disposal team during the Iraq war. Again, this film is quite gruesome, and has some strong language throughout. My favourite aspect of “The Hurt Locker” were that there is a real sense of development between the characters, and with Renner’s character, I found that as an audience member I really started to warm to him by the end of the film. At first he is portrayed as quite arrogant but he knows what he’s doing and his actions can be quite frustrating for the other soldiers in his team. Again, I think it’s a very realistic portrayal of what war is about, and that it’s not always “glorious”. One of the things that stuck with me after watching “The Hurt Locker” was how much research had to be put into making something like this, which is why I thought it was so good. Even though I’ve only seen “The Hurt Locker” once, it’s already one of my favourite films in general so I really think you should give it a watch, if you haven’t already.
- Zero Dark Thirty
Also directed by Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty” is a 2012 thriller/war film, written by Mark Boal, who also wrote “The Hurt Locker”. It’s based on Jessica Chastain’s character Maya, who works for the CIA in trying to find Osama Bin Laden. I felt that Chastain’s portrayal of a young, female CIA agent was really quite emotional at times, because the audience feels frustrated for her when things go wrong, which I think shows the pressure of working for the government in a serious situation. I personally loved the fact that it was a female protagonist in a war film, as this genre tends to be more male based, so I applaud Bigelow for making such a fantastic film with a strong female lead. It’s something I think more people need to accept and realize that working for the government in a war zone isn’t “just a man’s job”. At the same time, however, it’s definitely something I wouldn’t be able to do! The film was very successful, being nominated for a number of awards including Best Actress, Best Sound Editing, Best Directing… and it definitely deserved it.
I saw this film in October last year when I went to Ireland. “’71” is a film set in Northern Ireland starring Jack O’Connell, whose character is a British soldier in Belfast who become separated from his unit during a riot at the height of The Troubles in 1971. “’71”, for me, is probably one of the most different war films out of all the ones I’ve listed so far, because O’Connell’s character, Gary, is on his own for the majority of the movie, with other minor yet important characters coming in and out of the storyline. Taking place over the evening, and then the night and early morning that Gary is separated, there is a lot of tension, drama, and some emotional scenes which really make this film one of my favourites so far. There is a real sense of uncertainty throughout the film, because there are a number of characters who we don’t know whether they are trustworthy or not. I think this adds to the tension of the film, and is probably what makes it more of a thriller/drama that takes place during a war. There is some blood and gore, as well as violence so if this is something you’re not a fan of, then I would maybe not watch this film if I was you, but at the same time, I think it’s something that deserves more recognition.
So those are my top 5 favourite war films! I hope you enjoyed it, and if any of the above are films you’ve seen before, then tell me what you think of them in the comments! That’s all for now, until next time, amigos.