Ooh Rah! Give me all the military kink.
June 11, 2016 1:48 AM   Subscribe

Currently in a phase where I would like to watch movies or TV series + read books that focus on special ops, special forces, miltary action, or any army/navy/marine group inserted in a mission. Any suggestions?

I've Googled and IMDB'd so yes I've watched and liked:
• Black Hawk Down
• Zero Dark Thirty

Liked these as well but do not fit my mood at the moment:
• Tears of the Sun
• The Hurt Locker

I don't want to cry; I do want to experience some heart-pounding action.

In terms of TV series, I liked:
• Strike Back
• Homeland
• 24

For books I've been recommended Chris Ryan and Vince Flynn.

Delta Forces, Navy Seals, SAS, Spetsnaz — yes, please. Whether they're working together or fighting each other — whatever works.

Thanks, hivemind!
posted by pleasebekind to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Lone Survivor (2012) - SEALS, War on Terror
Bravo Two Zero (1999) - SAS, Gulf War
American Sniper (2014) - SEALS, War on Terror
Three Kings (1999) - Assorted, Gulf War

And Band of Brothers is the most harrowing depiction of war I have ever seen, knocking Saving Private Ryan on its ass and then stomping it in the face. Tons and tons of action, but there are some sad moments.
posted by xyzzy at 3:13 AM on June 11, 2016

The Unit
posted by poxandplague at 3:33 AM on June 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Heart-pounding action, you say? Considered one of the greatest war films ever: Come and See
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:57 AM on June 11, 2016

How classic are you willing to go?

Some oldies but goodies

The Guns of Navarone
12 O'Clock High
The Great Escape
The Big Red One
The Dirty Dozen

For more modern fare I 100% second 'Band of Brothers'. If you don't care too too much about it being a 'good' movie, Behind Enemy Lines and Crimson Tide are fun.

Not sure if you're open to video games but check out Call of Duty's 'Modern Warfare' series. While famous for it's multiplayer, MW 1 and 2 will give you exactly what you're looking for in the single-player campaigns. You can set the difficulty quite low as well if you're not familiar with the genre. If you prefer your special ops in a 60's flavor, Call of Duty is also happy to take your cash with their 'Black Ops' line.
posted by deadwater at 5:38 AM on June 11, 2016

Along with Band of Brothers, The Pacific is a great series.

I haven't seen it yet, but Netflix keeps recommending Forces spéciales, a French movie about special forces in Afghanistan.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:54 AM on June 11, 2016

Generation Kill is a bit short on action but compelling nonetheless.
posted by fullerine at 6:04 AM on June 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Another oldie but goodie for heart pounding action: Zulu

Another older movie - Ill Met By Moonlight (a.k.a. Night Ambush) does not have a lot of combat per se but is worth it noneless: In the night of 26 April 1944, on occupied Crete, a mixed British and Greek commando from Special Operations Executive (SOE) captured General Heinrich Kreipe, one of the highest ranking German officers on the island. Eluding all German attempts to find them thanks to the support of Cretan anti-Axis guerillas and local population, SOE soldiers managed to escape from the island and bring the captured general to Cairo.
posted by gudrun at 6:09 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you've been recommended Chris Ryan, then you should watch Ultimate Force (but only the first two seasons).
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:31 AM on June 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

my tastes for military films tend to run more towards WWII than War on Terror, and my current fave list that has its moments/examples of small units operating in fraught situations:

Fury -- gritty, bleak, and amazing. Worth watching if you feel like Band of Brothers and The Pacific were too touched with Stephen Ambrose's hagiographic Greatest Generation sentimentality.

A Bridge Too Far -- belongs with The Longest Day and The Big Red One as an epic flim that has a massive and impressive cast in several bit parts. Recommended in particuar for Anthony Hopkins who is fantastic in it as British Paratrooper badass, John Frost, and the entire arc of his unit trying to hold the bridge at Arnhem.

these two maybe more in the crying realm:

Das Boot -- more of a psychological study of a unit under extended peril. Compelling and great tension, but definitely not quite as high octane as, say, Blackhawk Down

Stalingrad (the 1993 German version, not the 2013 Russian movie) -- gripping, brutal and intimate portrayal of the grimmest battle of the war entirely from the eyes of a Wehrmacht battalion that's being ground down to pieces. In some ways, the land version of Das Boot's submarine journey. The 2013 film is a schmaltzy piece of Red Army propaganda with unnecessary romance. Avoid the latter.

For more modern settings ... if you liked Zero Dark Thirty for the terrorist hunting aspects, I'll say that I have a soft spot for Munich. It's basically a Mossad special ops team in civilian drag, with some really fantastic 70s aesthetics. It's also a wonderfully understated foodie movie.
posted by bl1nk at 6:40 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Clear and Present Danger - U.S. Army Rangers, Colombia drug war

Tom Clancy novel (1989)

Film adaptation (1994) - stars Harrison Ford and Willem Dafoe. Directed by Phillip Noyce (The Saint, The Bone Collector, The Quiet American). Screenplay co-written by Donald E. Stewart (Missing), Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List, Moneyball), and John Milius (Dirty Harry, Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn)

There are plenty of wretched Tom Clancy books but this is one of his better ones, and probably the best film adaptation of the lot.
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:13 AM on June 11, 2016

The 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars.
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness at 8:51 AM on June 11, 2016

Is military SF an option for books? There are the first three novels in Mefi's Own John Scalzi's Old Man's War series, as well as Marko Kloos's Frontlines series. Lots of speculative technology, but with the discipline, jargon and service psychology found in American armed forces, both at the induction level and the special forces level.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:03 AM on June 11, 2016

The Delta Force with Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin.
posted by Fukiyama at 9:18 AM on June 11, 2016

Sicaro with Benico Del Toro. Sorry for the double post.
posted by Fukiyama at 9:19 AM on June 11, 2016

I'd second The Unit, which was a decent tv series. It was a network show, so not as intense as, say Strike Back, but it did tell some good stories.

Another oldie: Where Eagles Dare, on FanFare previously

Bad, but a suitable desperate fix if you're in the right mood, there's Charlie Sheen's Navy Seals. The supporting cast had a lot of the usual suspects of the genre, including Michael Bienh, Bill Paxton, and Dennis Haysbert.
posted by Pryde at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2016

We Were Soldiers is exactly this and pretty accurate to boot.
posted by rhizome at 11:20 AM on June 11, 2016

Seal Team Six is another really gripping account of the Bin Laden raid.
posted by invisible ink at 12:54 PM on June 11, 2016

Star Gate SG1.
posted by jabah at 4:34 PM on June 11, 2016

Behind the Lines is a 7-part BBC documentary from 1985 following the training of applicants to the Royal Marines Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre. It is absolutely excellent and I really can't recommend it highly enough.

You need a UK IP address to watch it on the BBC's iPlayer, but you might be able to find it somewhere else.
posted by clorox at 12:57 AM on June 12, 2016

Act of Valor is solid; it features real guys from the teams, as it was easier to teach SEALs how to act, than actors and stuntmen to pull off playing SEALs. So as you might expect, the action scenes are awesome, but the acting isn't going to win any Oscars, because you're not watching actors, you're watching operators.
posted by culfinglin at 8:13 AM on June 12, 2016

The early seasons of Stargate SG-1 have a strong military feel (endorsed by the Air Force).

Also, as Season 3 returns tonight, I really enjoy The Last Ship on TNT.
posted by buttercup at 11:53 AM on June 12, 2016

Ok, just to get it out of the way because it doesn't fit your criteria: Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer, the best American war novel. Its better than One Bullet Away, or Fields of Fire, orFrom Here to Eternity, or All Quiet on the Western Front, or The Red Badge of Courage. Yeah I liked it but its a study of the Army Officer Corps from the last Mexican conflict to early Viet Nam written by a WWII Marine Corps Corporal that fought in the Pacific.

U-505 (Original title: 20 Million Tons Under the Sea) by Daniel V. Gallery the story of a carrier task group's capture of U-505 by the Admiral in charge. His other books are good too, his fiction is funnier than hell.

British Field Marshal William Slim's Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945. AKA Defeat into Victory, the only flag officer's memoir I've found that's a great read too.

If you don't mind some continuity errors in your fiction W. E. B. Griffin's The Corps Series matches your request. Marine Corps intelligence work, plus from the beginning of WWII in China to the Korean War. His Men at War Series (OSS) ain't bad either. Check out his Wiki page, the dude must have typed in his sleep!
posted by ridgerunner at 6:09 AM on June 13, 2016

Just want to say that I have started to go through all of these and will mark as best answer anything I enjoyed. Thanks again for all the suggestions!
posted by pleasebekind at 10:33 PM on June 28, 2016

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