April 02, 2015
By Keith Wood
If you like guns, you probably appreciate great gun movies. I'm talking about war movies with great battle scenes, crime dramas with epic shootouts, gun slinging westerns and even documentaries.
We've covered plenty of awesome gun movies in earlier articles, but Netflix doesn't have every movie ever made in its catalog, and it has surprisingly few of the "greats" such as Heat, Red Dawn (don't even talk to me about the remake), The Wild Bunch, or even Tombstone. Since so many people watch Netflix these days, why not pick some of the best movies worth watching?
We scoured the current titles streaming on Netflix to find the 10 best gun movies. Here are our picks, in no particular order:
Bravo Two Zero
After the long and costly war in Iraq, we often treat the first Gulf War as if it were a historical footnote. For the British SAS team 'Bravo Two Zero, ' the 1991 war in Iraq was anything but forgettable. Based on the bestselling book of the same name, Bravo Two Zero
follows a small unit of special operators on a long-range patrol in western Iraq. The team is compromised by goat herders (what else?) and a fight ensues that leaves all but one trooper dead or captured. Sean Bean plays the team leader who endures brutal torture as a POW following his ill-fated attempt to escape and evade. It's not the highest budget movie ever made, but it's pretty damn good.
Legends of the Fall
Bear with me, this isn't a joke. Like many of the films here, Legends of the Fall
is based on a fantastic book — in this case a Jim Harrison novella. As the viewer journeys through the life in the American west, trench warfare in World War I's Western Front, African big game hunting, and eventually bootlegging, we see a wide variety of classic firearms. This movie may have the most diverse gun collection of any of the films in the lineup. We see Winchester lever guns and Colt single-action army revolvers in Montana as well as Webley Mk IV revolvers, SMLE .303 rifles, a P.08 Luger, and even a water-cooled Maxim in World War I. The brief African scene shows us a massive side-by-side bore rifle before it is back to Montana for some classic revolvers, a Sharps rifle, and a few Thompson submachine guns. The fine Purdey shotgun given as a gift from father to son in the movie was actually given by Brad Pitt to his father after the film's completion. Don't hate it just because the ladies love it, Legends of the Fall is a great movie with some awesome classic firearms.
A fantastic documentary on the life and career of legendary filmmaker and NRA Board Member John Milius, this movie is a must watch for any film buff. John Milius is a Hollywood giant who wrote Apocalypse Now
, Magnum Force
, and The Wind and the Lion
; directed Red Dawn
, Conan the Barbarian
, and Flight of the Intruder
, and both wrote and directed Rough Riders
among others. Milius
is an in-depth study of a brilliant storyteller who refused to cower to bullying by the leftists in Hollywood who all but pushed him out of the movie business. From his days with Lucas and Spielberg at USC's film school to his current health struggles, this film is a great tribute to a filmmaking great.
Quantam Leap; 'The Leap Home, Part 2 '
Ok, so I know this isn't a movie but bear with me. This 1990s sci-fi series was created by Donald P. Bellasario, who also created the greatest television show of all time, Magnum P.I.
In this episode, Sam Beckett 'leaps ' into Vietnam as a U.S. Navy SEAL in an attempt to save his brother's life. Besides plenty of other cool guns including a static-mounted GE minigun, this episode depicts the rare belt-fed 5.56mm Stoner 63A light machine gun used by SEALS in Vietnam. I am unaware of any other TV show or film that has used actual Stoner 63s for filming — and this show used two of them. Only the SEALs ever used Eugene Stoner's modular 63A operationally, and only Quantum Leap
ever put it on TV.
Forget your Call of Duty fantasies about combat, this documentary by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger show war for the brutal and dirty business that it really is. This movie follows an army infantry platoon as they battle the Taliban during one year of their fifteen-month deployment into Afghanistan's deadly Korangal Valley. Inspiring, frustrating, and even humorous at times, Restrepo
depicts life on a small combat outpost named for a fallen soldier from the platoon. There's plenty of shooting and plenty of cool hardware, but the harsh realities of life in Afghanistan and the human toll paid by the men depicted cast a depressing pallor over the entire film. Though the scenes take place just a few years ago in the fight against the Taliban, the dirty faces, dangling cigarettes, and thousand yard stares of the troops could very well have been from Vietnam or World War II. Sometimes we need to be reminded that war is hell. This film achieves that goal.
Based on gun guy Stephen Hunter's fantastic novel 'Point of Impact ', Shooter
is an entertaining film full of all types of firearms. The film's main character is a former Marine Scout Sniper, and there's plenty of long range shooting. Like nearly every movie, save those made by Michael Mann, it features plenty of gun-related technical mistakes (i.e., treating a Barrett M82 like it's a bolt-action), but they aren't bad enough to ruin the story. They reportedly even taught Marky Mark to shoot for the movie, no word on what effect that had on his previous anti-gun positions. There aren't many movies out there featuring a .408 CheyTac sniper rifle.
Tears of the Sun
If you like SEAL movies with lots of ammo turned into once-fired brass, Act of Valor
is hard to beat. You can't find Act of Valor
on Netflix these days though, so this 2003 Bruce Willis movie
will have to do. This movie tells the story of a SEAL Team deployed to revolution-torn Africa to save the life of an aid worker physician. It turns into a big moral dilemma with lots and lots of gunfights. The movie wasn't up for any Oscars, but it's actually pretty watchable. The bad guys are really, really bad and the SEALs kill them by the truckload with M-4s, M-203s, an M-60E3 and M-249 SAW, and even an M-14. SEALs killing dirtbags who rape and torture innocent women and children? It's as American as apple pie.
The Ghost and the Darkness
One of the few modern Hollywood movies that portrays African hunting in a positive light, The Ghost and the Darkness
is adapted from the true life story of John Henry Patterson and his battle with the 'maneaters of Tsavo. ' The creators really did their homework in creating a period piece, down to ensuring the use of appropriate guns for the era and location. Stars of the show include a Lee Speed .303, a Farquharson single shot, a couple of nitro express double rifles and even a Howdah pistol — not stuff you see every day. I'm a sucker for Africa, especially Victorian-era Africa, so this is one of my favorites.
We Were Soldiers
Mel Gibson isn't getting many calls from casting directors these days, but he did an awesome job of bringing then-Lt. Col Hal Moore's heroism and leadership to the silver screen in this Vietnam drama. We Were Soldiers
depicts the 1965 battle at LZ X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley where a few hundred air cavalry troopers fought 2,000 or so North Vietnamese soldiers in a close range battle that raged over two days and two nights. This movie is gut-wrenching, exciting, and amazingly realistic. The uniforms and guns are correct down to period-correct cigarette packs. Lots of M-16s obviously, but plenty of M-60s, AKMs, one bad ass NCO with a 1911A1, and lots of close air support are on display. If you're going to watch one movie about the Vietnam War, this should be the one.
You can't have a list of gun movies without a western, and you can't mention westerns without Lonesome Dove
. This 1989 epic miniseries is the story of two former Texas Rangers on a cattle drive to Montana — you guessed it, a bunch of people get shot along the way. Interestingly, John Milius tried to make the novel into a feature film, but the miniseries was the chosen vehicle for the Pulitzer Prize winning story. Plenty of iconic old west guns including a Walker Colt, a Colt Dragoon, a Buntline Special, and even an 1875 Remington revolver carbine are used in the series. Good westerns are few and far between on Netflix
, but this one is a winner.
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