5 movies based on real-life experiences of the “war on terror”
These biographical war movies are all set in the years after Operation Shock and Awe, which was George W Bush’s response to the September 11 attacks on the United States. They’re all based on true stories, and offer a visceral perspective of how the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan affected both soldiers and civilians.
The Outpost (2020)
Combat Outpost Keating is the setting for this biographical war drama. It’s on the northern Afghan border in a remote village at the base of a mountain rage… and more importantly, it makes the US troops stationed there sitting ducks. It’s set in 2006 and explores Operation Enduring Freedom, an engagement between 55 US soldiers and 400 armed enemies. The fight – dubbed Battle Of Kamdesh – sees the soldiers willing to die for their country, fighting in the name of freedom; likewise, the enemies are willing to die for what they believe in – jihad, the holy war.
There’s a lot of shouting, a lot of shooting and a lot of blood – but that’s exactly what’s expected because it’s re-living a literal gunfight to the death as the forces unload magazine upon magazine of ammunition into each other.
It’s based on journalist Jake Tapper’s 2012 non-fiction novel The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor and stars Scott Eastwood and Orlando Bloom as Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha and Captain Benjamin D Keating, respectively.
Did you know?
A number of the soldiers are played by actual survivors from the Battle Of Kamdesh, and the real Clint Romesha called the base “like being in a fishbowl”.
American Sniper (2014)
Chris Kyle (played by a bulked-up Bradley Cooper) was the US military’s deadliest soldier with over 160 confirmed kills during his career. He served multiple tours to Iraq during his army work and saved countless lives with his pin-point accuracy as a sharpshooter and ruthless decision-making.
But that’s not what this Clint Eastwood-directed movie is all about. Instead, it explores Chris Kyle’s life after he retired from active duty, including his struggles to reintegrate himself into society thanks to his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), his personal relationships with his family and wife, as well as his murder at the hands of a fellow soldier who was also struggling with PTSD from his time in combat.
It’s an intimate look at the after-effects of war and how soldiers are never able to fully recover from the horrors that they’re forced to commit while trying to protect flag and country.
Did you know?
Despite being happy that Clint Eastwood was directing, Chris’s family lashed out after the movie was released, claiming that they betrayed Chris’s legacy by deviating from Chris’s autobiography – American Sniper: The Autobiography Of The Most Lethal Sniper In US Military History – and notes that he’d written.
Megan Leavey (2017)
Kate Mara plays Marine Corporal Megan Leavey in this biographical drama that tugs on the heartstrings despite being set in war-torn Iraq. It explores the lesser-known K-9 program that assigns Marine specialist soldiers to working war dogs – in the movie, it’s bomb-sniffing Rex (played by Varco).
Like American Sniper, this isn’t about the actual war but rather the effects that it has on a soldier’s mental health pre-, during and post-tour. It explores Megan and Rex’s relationship, how they worked together to save lives during two tours to Iraq – in 2005 and 2006 – and how in their retirement they’re able to give each other the peace and love they so desperately needed to try forget about the atrocities they were forced to deal with.
They were both honourably discharged after being wounded, and thanks to special intervention by a senator, Megan was able to adopt Rex.
Did you know?
The real Megan Leavey is the drill instructor who tears shreds into Megan the character – she’s credited as “Female Drill Instructor #3”.
Shock And Awe (2018)
The fact that former President George W Bush’s War On Terror – aka Operation Shock And Awe – in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks on New York never resulted in any weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) being found is no surprise to a lot of people – most notably Warren Strobel (James Marsden) and Jonathan Landay (Woody Harrelson).
They’re two journalists from the Knight Ridder Washington media organisation who had evidence that the Bush Administration based their 2003 invasion of Iraq on falsified evidence and had ulterior motives for the military action. What did they base their initial theory on? According to their boss John Walcott, “Most of the administration’s case for that war made absolutely no sense, specifically the notion that Saddam Hussein was allied with Osama bin Laden.
“That one from the get-go rang all the bells – a secular Arab dictator allied with a radical Islamist whose goal was to overthrow secular dictators and re-establish his Caliphate? The more we examined it, the more it stank.”
Did you know?
Although Strobel and Landay were attacked by rivals and the government for their claims and were vilified at first, they were later honoured with awards and dubbed “the reporting team that got Iraq right”.
Official Secrets (2019)
Similar to Shock And Awe, this biographical drama movie explores an informant who exposed the US and British intelligence agencies for fabricating evidence and manipulating it to their benefit to be in favour of the coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Keira Knightley plays Katharine Gun, an analyst who was given evidence that US and British spies “dug for dirt” on United Nations Security Council members to blackmail them into supporting the invasion and giving it official approval by passing a resolution in congress.
The evidence is passed on by Katharine to a friend who knows a friend who knows a friend, and before long, the evidence is in the hands of famed journalist Martin Bright at The Observer. It also highlights the difficulties that whistle-blowers face when they’re exposing corruption and maladministration. Katharine, for example, was arrested and thrown in jail overnight, among other things – she was also charged with violating the Official Secrets Act in the UK, although the charges were later dropped because prosecuting her would’ve proven that the UK government was tricked into a war, which would’ve left them with egg on their faces.
Did you know?
US Secretary Of State Colin Powell resigned as a result of the evidence leaked in the memo.
More like these
CBS 60 Minutes questions the authenticity of President George W Bush’s military service and acumen in 2004 as the US is exposed for basing their invasion of Iraq on fake evidence. Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett. Biographical drama.
Army Of One (2016)
An unemployed handyman (Nicolas Cage) is visited by God (Russell Brand) and goes on a mission to hunt down Osama Bin Laden. Biographical comedy.