Culture

4 Times Hollywood Saluted Modern War Heroes

For a while Hollywood couldn’t stop insulting or flat-out attacking U.S. soldiers. The period coincided, not accidentally, with President George W. Bush’s war on terror.

Movies like “Stop-Loss,” “Lions for Lambs” and, most dramatically, director Brian De Palma’s “Redacted” showed soldiers as pawns to crooked politicians or much worse.

That isn’t always the case.

Some recent films have depicted the men and women in the armed forces in a far more positive light. These weren’t always puff pieces. One, in particular, can be seen as both anti-war and pro-U.S. troops.

The new film “12 Strong” falls squarely in the pro-military folder. Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon play Green Berets striking the first U.S. blow against the Taliban in 2011 — on horses. It’s a remarkable story that, while enhanced by Hollywood magic, is essentially true.

Here are four other recent films that showcased the best of the U.S. military.

“American Sniper”

Clint Eastwood’s 2014 smash took us into the world of a lethal U.S. sniper. We saw his roots, his family life and the way he conducted himself on the battlefield. It was mesmerizing, partly thanks to Bradley Cooper’s Oscar-nominated turn as Chris Kyle. Eastwood shrewdly left the “rah-rah” theatrics behind for a more nuanced look at a true hero.

“Lone Survivor”

Director Peter Berg has an affinity for military veterans. He showed it with his fictional thriller “The Kingdom” and even “Battleship,” which cast real veterans in small, but important roles. Here, Berg recalls the heroism of four Navy SEALs behind enemy lines in Afghanistan.

“Lone Survivor,” based on the memoir by Marcus Luttrell, packs all the military action you’d demand in a film like this. The sense that the four main characters are strong, brave and decent comes through in nearly every scene, too.

Thank You for Your Service

One of 2017’s best films got ignored at the cineplex, and that’s a shame. Miles Teller stars as an Iraq war veteran attempting to adjust to civilian life. It isn’t easy. He saw the horrors of war and can’t shake the memories. One of his fellow soldiers, a good and trusted friend, came back with a brain injury that makes his transition even harder. This is superior storytelling, a film that honors the sacrifices soldiers make in ways most war movies can’t quite capture.

“Zero Dark Thirty”

Director Kathryn Bigelow took heat from some military veterans for her Oscar-winning film “The Hurt Locker.” She returned to the battlefield with this powerhouse look at the killing of Osama bin Laden. Liberals complained that the film glorified “torture” as a means of getting information. Everyone else saw the sacrifice, intelligence and bravery of U.S. troops as they cornered the world’s most wanted man.