5 great Netflix movies you should watch on Memorial Day

Born on the Fourth of July Tom Cruise
Universal Pictures

On Memorial Day, we can come together with loved ones not just to celebrate, but to honor those who gave their lives for our country. Hollywood doesn’t shy away from these people’s stories. Filmmakers weave them into powerful movies that forge a deep connection between us and the fallen soldiers, reminding us of what they’ve given up for others.

The best Memorial Day movies highlight the brave journeys our heroes go through, as well as the destruction caused by war and conflict. On Netflix, some of the top Memorial Day movies to watch include a movie chronicling four African American veterans making their way back to Vietnam and one that follows a German soldier during World War I.

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods may have debuted on Netflix due to the pandemic, but it certainly deserved to have a wide release. Decades after the Vietnam War, four African American veterans — Paul, Otis, Eddie, and Melvin — embark on a poignant journey back to Vietnam. Their mission has two goals: to honor their fallen leader, Stormin’ Norman, by bringing him home, and to unearth a hidden treasure from their past.

As they journey through the treacherous Vietnamese jungle, their brotherhood is tested due to hidden truths and burdens. The movie is a perfect Memorial Day watch due to its intriguing story about brotherhood and the scars of war.

Watch Da 5 Bloods on Netflix.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge

Directed by actor Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge is a war drama that’s based on the story of Desmond Doss — a conscientious objector during World War II who received the Medal of Honor for his valiant efforts. From his humble beginnings to the brutal battlegrounds of Okinawa, the film highlights his unwavering commitment to serve as a medic, even without a weapon.

Amid the chaos and carnage at the real-life place of Hacksaw Ridge, Desmond’s bravery shines through. Gripping and suspenseful sequences showcase his repeated ventures into the battlefield as he rescued 75 wounded soldiers under heavy fire. The movie reminds viewers that the most potent weapons aren’t always physical — sometimes an unwavering conviction and a strong moral compass can achieve the most extraordinary feats.

Watch Hacksaw Ridge on Netflix.

War Dogs (2016)

War Dogs
Warner Bros. Pictures

The characters Miles Teller (Top Gun: Maverick) and Jonah Hill (Superbad) play in War Dogs are based on real-life arms dealers who captured the world’s attention in 2007. Directed by Todd Phillips, War Dogs sees two men take advantage of a government initiative that permits small businesses to participate in U.S. military contracts. However, their attempt to make money off of an arms deal thrusts them into a dangerous and morally questionable world.

War Dogs doesn’t shy away from humor, even in tense situations. This is evident in a scene where the two leads attempt the seemingly impossible — smuggling Beretta pistols through the infamous “Triangle of Death” in Jordan. The movie underscores the complexity and moral ambiguity of the defense industry, reminding viewers that war’s impact extends beyond the battlefield.

Watch War Dogs on Netflix.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Born on the Fourth of July
Universal Pictures

Born on the Fourth of July is a gripping war movie that chronicles the devastating impact of the Vietnam War on a man named Ron Kovic. Played by Tom Cruise, Ron is a young soldier whose initial patriotism leads him to enlist. However, the film takes a stark turn as we witness the harrowing realities of war, culminating in a life-altering injury that leaves Kovic paralyzed. This experience fuels his transition from a hopeful soldier into a passionate anti-war activist.

A memorable moment in the film is Kovic’s emotional speech at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. This scene, along with the film’s overall honesty, earned praise from Vietnam veterans who saw their experiences reflected on the screen. The film’s impact transcended critical success and award shows as it raised public awareness about the challenges veterans faced.

Watch Born on the Fourth of July on Netflix

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

All Quiet on the Western Front

In All Quiet on the Western Front, young men, eager to serve their country have their idealism crushed by the horrors of war. The 2022 Netflix original movie adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s novel offers a powerful anti-war message, as it takes a look at the brutality of World War I through the eyes of a German Soldier named Paul Bäumer. Paul’s journey takes him from patriotic enthusiasm to the devastating realities of trench warfare, forcing him to confront the true cost of war.

The film’s unflinching portrayal of war offers a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers, making it a fitting film for Memorial Day. One scene, where Paul finds himself trapped with a dying enemy soldier, exemplifies the film’s core message: the shared humanity and savagery that everyone experiences in war transcend the battlefield.

Watch All Quiet on the Western Front on Netflix.