NATO’s War in Afghanistan lasted a little over 20 years. During that time, many great films were made about various heroic, tragic, and sad stories about the War. So, it’s only fitting that we talk about some of the best movies about the NATO War in Afghanistan from 2001-2021.
15. Hyena Road (2015)
Hyena Road may not be the most famous war movie, but it’s surely one of the true ones. Not often do you see films or stories about soldiers from any other nation in Afghanistan. But this film does that by focusing on Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Moreover, the film’s story is based on true events too. It’s about building a road called the Hyena Road deep into the insurgent territory. The film focuses on the challenges faced and sacrifices made by the soldiers during the construction.
14. Kandahar (2023)
Kandahar is the most recent addition to the list of films based on the Afghan War. This action-based film is one of those movies where the story is secondary, but the action is primary. So, don’t expect a lot of substance, just a lot of action.
But for a movie of that ilk, it does do a lot of justice to the setting of the NATO War in Afghanistan. The story focuses on a CIA operating Tom Harris (Gerard Butler), who gets stuck in insurgent territory. His only way out is with the help of his translator to a nearby extraction point.
13. The Kill Team (2019)
The Kill Team is another hidden gem about the Afghan War that few people might have heard of. But this is a great watch for those looking for an entertaining and great movie to watch this weekend. But it’s also a bit of a sad and tragic story.
It’s about a kill squad in Afghanistan under the command of a psychotic sergeant. Soon a young American soldier begins to question the motives and realizes that his group may not be all good. As he begins to wonder if his own troops would be the ones to kill him.
12. War Machine (2017)
War Machine is a fairly recent comedic take on NATO War in Afghanistan. In a bid to end the war, the U.S. government sent a decorated four-star general to strategize the end of the ongoing war. His only goal? Finish the job without asking for more soldiers.
Then General Glen McMahon (Brad Pitt) begins his campaign and forms a group of people around him. Soon, his plans begin to wobble as McMahon races against time. It all goes from bad to worse when he doesn’t look eye-to-eye with the U.S. President.
11. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is another comedic take on the American-led War against the Taliban. The film focuses on journalists instead of soldiers. It all begins when Kim Baker (Tina Fey) gets fed up with small-time reporting and decides to go on a short-term correspondent program to Afghanistan.
Soon, her short assignment turns into weeks, months, and then years. Despite all the issues around her, Kim Stays in Afghanistan and continues reporting. Despite the danger surrounding her, she prefers to stay on the front lines.
10. Lions for Lambs (2007)
Lions For Lambs isn’t exactly a very popular movie. It’s not a critic-pleaser, either. But a lot of people think this is because it taps into the weak vein of the Afghan War topic. The film also has a star cast of Robert Redford, Tom Cruise, and Meryl Streep.
It begins when two army rangers get entangled in an awry mission in Afghanistan, sustaining major injuries. Soon, Janine Roth (Streep) unravels that the strategy Senator Irving (Tom Cruise) is planning may not work. Leading to a chain of events that might endanger the lives of American troops in Afghanistan.
9. Red Snow (2019)
Red Snow is another great addition to the list of films about the Afghan War. The film’s rating and score may not portray the realism conveyed in the story. However, it is a good watch if you’re looking to see something different about the Afghan conflict.
The film focuses on a Canadian soldier being captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. In captivity, he reflects on his own life and choices while an Afghan family tries to help him escape—leading him on a harrowing journey.
8. The Outpost (2019)
The Outpost is another great film about the struggles of NATO soldiers in remote areas of Afghanistan against the Taliban. The film focuses on a small unit of soldiers controlling a remote outpost in an Afghan valley—hence the name of the film.
Things get bad when insurgent groups attack the outpost in a planned attack. It’s based on a true story regarding the Battle of Kamdesh back in 2009. While the film’s main subject is the Bravo Troop 3-61 Cavalry.
7. 12 Strong (2018)
12 Strong is a Chris Hemsworth movie that had a lot of great action. The film didn’t really become as famous as you would think. However, it did tell a great story about the initial invasion of Afghanistan post-911 attacks.
The story is about a U.S. Special Forces unit led by a charismatic Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth). However, things go wrong when the Northern Alliance plan doesn’t exactly go well and Nelson’s Unit ends up being pinned by enemy fire.
6. Restrepo (2010)
Restrepo is a documentary drama about the War-torn Afghanistan of 2007. In a remote outpost in Korengal Valley, considered one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan, a platoon does all it can to keep things going.
However, months of fighting ended up costing the life of a brave medic named Juan ‘Doc’ Restrepo. In his honor, the army renames the Korengal Valley outpost after him. The documentary itself captures the unlikelihood of survival in this trying place.
5. Brothers (2009)
Brothers is one of the films that shows the tragic side of war back home. There are veterans who lose their lives, and their family mourns. Then there are those who disappear and are never heard from again. Sam’s (Tobey Maguire) helicopter is shot down, and he’s presumed dead or missing too.
Back at home, Sam’s brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) begins to take care of his family. Soon after, Tommy’s dead brother’s widow and he gets entangled in an awkward situation. Only to learn that Sam was alive all this time as he returns home.
4. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of the most wanted manhunt in the history of humankind. While a lot of the story’s elements and characters are fictional, you could guess why it takes a lot of focus on the Afghan War.
The film focuses on one of the most pivotal reasons for the Afghan War – Osama bin Laden. The 10-year search leads the main character Maya (Jessica Chastain) and the CIA all the way from Afghanistan to Pakistan which results in a daring raid by American special forces.
3. A War (2015)
A War is another hidden gem about the NATO intervention in Afghanistan that you should see. This Danish film focuses on a Danish unit in the midst of the Afghan War. The Unit’s commander looks for ways to motivate and keep the morale of the depleted unit up.
The story focuses on Commander Claus Michael (Pilou Asbaek), who must make difficult decisions to keep things going. However, it gets worse when local opposition and Taliban fighters attack them. With his squad pinned down, Michael must make a demanding choice.
2. Lone Survivor (2013)
Lone Survivor is another true story from the Afghan War and possibly one of the best at that. It’s about a Navy SEAL, Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), who is sent to locate the local terrorist leader in the Hindu Kush region.
His team members get either separated or killed leaving him to be the lone survivor. Luttrell then goes on the run in order to survive. In the process, Luttrell finds a local man who shelters him and protects him from his chasers. This story inspired a friendship that has lasted ever since.
1. Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant (2023)
Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant is the recent addition to the long line of great films about the War in Afghanistan. The story focuses on a Sergeant leading a unit across the difficult Afghan terrain, who requests a new local interpreter and translator after losing one.
Their bond grows as they go through various missions together. However, during a raid, the unit is attacked, and Master Sergeant Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) gets severely injured. Kinley is bravely saved by the interpreter, and that invokes loyalty and respect between the two. Things go wrong when the translator is not given the promised American visa and is left stranded in Afghanistan. Kinley vows to do whatever it takes to fulfill ‘the covenant’ and get him what was promised to the translator.