Best Military Movie Classics to Watch on Memorial Day

Movies with military themes remind us how much dedication and sacrifice our veterans have offered the country during those many war-stricken times in American history. From the cruelty war brings to people to the glory of fighting for a cause, from the harsh realities and politics of war to the need to defend and protect one’s country, all these themes have been covered well by many military movie classics. In celebration of Memorial Day, here is a diverse list of the ideal ones to watch, in honor of the services of all the men and women in the military:

“Full Metal Jacket”

The controversial, tightly-crafted, and critically-acclaimed “Full Metal Jacket” is a top choice for those preferring an art film offering for Memorial Day. Based on the Gustav Hasford novel “The Short Timers,” this 1987 masterpiece from Stanley Kubrick explores the lives of young recruits of the Marines as they train for deployment to Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The film stars Matthew Modine, Vincent D’Onofrio, and real-life former U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey.

This film is more than just a plot-driven movie showing guns and bombs. It effectively explores how the characters evolve from the training camp to the war zone. Its multi-layered structure connects the varying interactions of the same characters as the war continues to take its toll on them. Intense, gripping, and harrowing, Kubrick impressively mounts a straightforward, psychological, visceral, and schematic narrative that has touched many generations of viewers since its release in 1987.

“Top Gun”

The 1986 film “Top Gun” is an escapist choice for those looking for something light and fun for a Memorial Day movie treat. This high-octane action flick from Tony Scott stars Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards, and Tom Skerritt. Since its release, the movie has become a top Navy recruitment video, especially for those interested in Naval aviation.

This aviation adventure-romance movie offers viewers that adrenaline rush with its many flight scenes’ amazing aerial cinematography. Meanwhile, its ground scenes offer a combination of slick and sexy moments courtesy of young hot Navy men training in the elite “Top Gun” flight school and their foxy female Naval instructor. The movie also brings that New Wave nostalgia through its memorable soundtrack that features a number of music hits including the Oscar-winning “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin and “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins.

“Saving Private Ryan”

Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” shows the gruesome reality of war. It honors the sacrifices of soldiers fighting for their country, for their lives, and for their families. This 1998 film pays tribute to the American citizen soldier of World War II as he visits a military cemetery and finds himself drifting back to the memories of the D-Day on June 6, 1944.

Starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Vin Diesel, and Giovanni Ribisi, this cinematic opus reminds viewers of the violence and trauma war brings. It opens with an intensely violent 24-minute war sequence that is now considered one of the most powerful and realistic renditions of what happens in the battlefield. This film brings to the viewers many topics for debates about the merits of bloodshed and the many casualties of war.