Image credit: The Hollywood Reporter
The Navy SEALs have a mystique about them. They’re powerful, honorable, and so highly skilled that they are seen as an untouchable force within the U.S. military. So, it’s no surprise that countless films have been made about current Navy SEALs, former Navy SEALs, or featuring Navy SEAL teams in all their glory.
But, the truth is, being a Navy SEAL isn’t glamorous and it takes a huge toll on those who live through it every day. Still, as civilians and veterans, it’s always nice to watch a movie that highlights the impressive feats of U.S. Navy SEALs.
Here, we have a list of ten of the best Navy SEAL movies we could find. From documentary-style films to fun, over-the-top dramatizations of what it’s like to be in the line of fire as a SEAL, we think this is a good combination of films for different tastes and interests, but all related to the Navy SEALs.
10. Under Siege
This film from 1992 stars Steven Seagal who plays a former Navy SEAL on a mission to stop a group of mercenaries on a U.S. Navy battleship. Although it’s not a classic war movie, it garnered critical acclaim and was even nominated for two Academy Awards for sound production.
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9. The Rock
This Michael Bay action film is what you’ve probably come to expect from the famed director. It’s a 1996 movie set on both the island of Alcatraz and in the San Francisco Bay area. Starring Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, and Ed Harris, it was also nominated for an Academy Award in its sound department.
The Navy SEALs don’t take a starring role in this film but they do make an important appearance. The Navy SEALs help the main characters infiltrate Alcatraz in an action-packed motion picture, perfect for anyone who’s a fan of the SEALs.
8. Captain Phillips
Captain Phillips is the incredible biopic based on the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, a situation during which the merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips was captured by pirates in the Indian Ocean.
Although it’s not directly related to the Navy SEALs in the way you might imagine, it’s based on Phillips’ book from 2010 with Stephan Talty called A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea. The Navy SEALs ultimately completed Captain Phillips’ rescue and therefore are an important piece to the story.
Not only are the SEALs heroic in their efforts, but this film is a must-watch due to its basis on true, recent events.
7. Navy SEALs
As with any list of the best movies, our best Navy SEAL movies list wouldn’t be complete without at least one comedy. This film starring Charlie Sheen is definitely on the fun side, with the main character portraying the plot in an over the top way.
However, at the time of its release, it was considered to be a decent representation of Navy SEALs in the thick of battle. But, nowadays, we know that this film was made more for its entertainment value it offered and that’s A-OK with us.
6. SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden
One of the most famous raids in recent history was the Navy SEAL’s raid on Osama Bin Laden in 2011, the man responsible for the horrific attacks on 9/11. This TV movie originally aired on the National Geographic Channel in 2012 and it chronicles the Abbottabad compound raid and killing of Bin Laden.
Although the facts in the film were “neither confirmed nor denied” by the White House, it’s an interesting film to watch if you’re into historical films versus big Hollywood movies.
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5. Act of Valor
Especially for those who have served as a Navy SEAL, Act of Valor is likely to tug right on your heartstrings. It’s a bit of a love letter to the SEALs and all of the sacrifices they make. In the film, a group of SEALs is deployed to help protect the nation from a terrorist threat far worse than that of 9/11.
Using real weapons and real tactics, it’s one of those war movies that stays true to what it’s really like in the field.
4. Tears of the Sun
Produced by and starring Bruce Willis, Tears of the Sun is beloved by service members. It tells the story of what happens when you go against orders – and anyone who has served in the military knows that there are many times when you feel the urge to do just that. However, the consequences are dire.
Willis plays Lieutenant A.K. Waters as he goes against orders, sending his US Navy SEAL team on a rescue mission to help evacuate a group of refugees during the Nigerian civil war.
3. American Sniper
American Sniper is probably one of the most moving films many Americans have ever seen. It’s the incredible true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who was one of the greatest snipers of all time. He quickly became known as the deadliest man in the world.
The film shows Kyle going through trials and making mistakes and it really shows his human side. After all, that’s all we ever are – Navy SEAL sniper or not. He was a somewhat controversial character and the ending is shocking.
2. Zero Dark Thirty
September 11th was one of the darkest days in American history and soon afterward, the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden began. Zero Dark Thirty is an incredible film that follows the Navy SEAL teams that searched for Bin Laden in an attempt to capture and kill him for his crimes.
We’ve already talked about this mission when we mentioned the National Geographic Channel’s movie called SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden, but, to be honest, Zero Dark Thirty is the real one to watch.
With this movie, you have Hollywood on your side with this amazing dramatization of one of the most epic manhunts of all time. Although you surely know the ending, we won’t give away the details since you’ll just have to watch how the story unfolds.
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1. Lone Survivor
Overall, it’s tough to pick the number one spot for this list. In reality, our top five is really a matter of preference and if anything, they all deserve the top spot in one way or another. But alas, we saved one of the best for last with Lone Survivor.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Lone Survivor tells the true story of a Navy SEAL in the aftermath of a failed mission – Operation Red Wings which was an attempt to remove a Taliban leader. Set in Afghanistan, you see this man struggle with his relationship to war and poses the idea that even though Navy SEALs are trained to withstand even the most grueling conditions, they are always, first and foremost, humans.
What’s your favorite Navy SEAL movie? Did it make our list? Be sure to check out our other movie lists featuring other branches of the U.S. military. You can never see too many war movies, right?