The Top Five War Flicks of 2014

2014 may be the year of science fiction movies with films like Interstellar and Guardians of the Galaxy, among so many others, dominating the box office but 2014 did not pass by without watch-worthy war flicks. Not only did these moving pictures show the complexities involved in the battlefield, they are also gut wrenching in the sense that they aired the effects war has on the soldiers involved. That said, here are the top five war flicks the previous year offered:

1. American Sniper [December 25, 2014]

With Bradley Cooper playing the main character and Hollywood veteran Clint Eastwood at its helm, American Sniper is described as a “tense yet very vivid tribute to the real person behind its story” — Christopher Scott “Chris” Kyle, a US Navy Seal dubbed as the most lethal sniper in all US Naval history.

Based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography which he, himself, wrote, the movie – which bears the same name as the book it was based on – shows not just the grit soldiers have to show in face of battle but also the emotional struggle that occurs within them even when the war has long ended.

American Sniper gained mostly positive reviews from its critics when it was released. As a matter of fact, Vanity Fair called it “the best film of 2014”. The acting prowess of Bradley Cooper paired with the good story and an amazing background score are the reasons why this war flick tops all the others shown the previous year.

2. ’71 [Showing in limited theaters in USA February 27, 2015]

Though yet to be shown in limited theaters across United States this coming February 27, ‘71 already made its premiere October of 2014 during the  64th Berlin International Film Festival.

Described as a “gripping action thriller”, ‘71 revolves around a young British soldiers played by Jack O’Connell [best known for playing the main role in another war flick Unbroken] and the most harrowing night of his life when his unit accidentally left him behind while they were fighting off a riot in Belfast during the 1971 Troubles.

Actor Jack O’Connell’s acting in the movie goes beyond satisfactorily delivering what was expected from him. That, paired with the gritty realism infused in the film, made ‘71 shine above the rest and snag the second spot in this list. In fact, many critics compared it to the big budget war film Fury claiming that the former leaves a moviegoer more satisfied than latter.

3. Unbroken [December 25, 2014]

Directed by Hollywood A-lister Angelina Jolie with Jack O’Connell in the lead role, Unbroken is another war film based on an autobiography of a WWII vet — this time of Louis Zamperini who spent two during the Second World War as a POW under the Japanese Imperial Army after suffering over a month of being adrift in sea. He suffered many brutalities in the hands of his captors but through it all, Zamperini’s spirit remained unbroken.

However, it received mixed views from movie critics saying that though the film is moving and worth watching, it didn’t deliver the life of its real-life subject well enough.

Unbroken is also riddled with controversies since its release with Japan banning it from showing in the country as it portrayed the Japanese army in a rather bad light.

4. Fury [November 14, 2014 USA]

With a Hollywood-heavy cast starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman and The Training Day director David Ayer at its helm, Fury evolves around six American soldiers and their M4A3E8 Sherman tank they named Fury. 

Filled with the horrors so prevalent in wars with the camaraderie of the soldiers playing a central theme in the movie, the war flick shows the familiar themes of comradeship, war grimness, patriotism and the majority’s love for the underdogs. These may be the reasons why critics were not too fond of the film when it was released with some calling it “a modern version of the sort of movie Hollywood turned out practically every week back in the 1940s and 1950s”.

Nevertheless, the acting abilities of the actors in the film are noteworthy with Shia even going the extra mile in his role here.

5. The Monuments Men [February 7, 2014]

Set to show December of 2013, the movie’s premiere was moved to a much latter date — that of February the next year. With its plot about the real life people who saved the prized artifacts and art collections Hitler stole during the Second World War, collectively known as the Monuments Men [and Women], The Monuments Men had a power cast which included Matt Damon, George Clooney and even Cate Blanchett.

However, the roles Clooney played in this movie – being an actor, its director, producer and even screenwriter – may not have sit well with him as the critics and most moviegoers found the flick filled with humor but stale nonetheless.

But with its fantastic special effects and its attempt to make just one of history’s boring stories liven up with an injection of wit and humor, The Monuments Men is worth the watch.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE