10 Best Boot Camp Movies
The 10 best boot camp movies examine the initiation rites of the military and, in some cases, other similar organizations of conscription and assimilation. These films combine the time-honored tradition of the coming-of-age tale with examinations of violence, fear, courage and kindness.
“Full Metal Jacket” – The opening segment of “Full Metal Jacket” qualifies it as one of the 10 best boot camp movies. Good thing, too, because the rest of the movie, which ostensibly takes place in Vietnam but looks more like Guatemala, is complete crap. The boot camp segment examines military rituals and the dehumanization required of professional soldiers.
“Tigerland” – In his breakout role, Colin Farrell delves deeply into the soul of a Vietnam-era military conscript with a taste for rebellion and insubordination. As the film progresses, the character’s generic tendencies give way to complex emotional problems and inner turmoil. It’s a great performance. “Tigerland” of the 10 best boot camp movies.
“Jesus Camp” – “Jesus Camp” is both the sole documentary and non-military film on this list. It details the exploits of a group of children interred at a summer camp that bludgeons them daily with messages of conservative Christian extremism. It is one of the 10 best, and most impactful, boot camp movies, but be forewarned: it will scare the s%*t out of you.
“Dog Soldiers” – “Dog Soldiers” is an über low budget British horror film concerning a group of boot camp soldiers on a training mission in Scotland, where they are attacked by Werewolves. The film makes good on its premise by being a sort-of-funny, mostly scary-as-hell monster movie that is one of the 10 best boot camp flicks.
“G.I. Jane” – “G.I. Jane” examines the trials and tribulations faced by women in the military, particularly during boot camp. The somewhat moronic set up – a female senator places a woman in Navy SEAL training to prove a point – is quickly put to the side and the film allows Demi Moore to explore the hardships of boot camp and gender discrimination simultaneously.
“Heartbreak Ridge” – Clint Eastwood assumes the role of the hardass drill sergeant with relish in “Heartbreak Ridge.” Clint clashes with his superiors and ex-wife while attempting to recondition an attitudinal recon platoon through boot camp training. It’s an underrated film and one of the 10 best boot camp movies.
“Stripes” – Leave it to Bill Murray to show up in a genre populated by humorless badasses and take the piss. In “Stripes,” Murray and co-star Harold Ramis sign up for the military out of sheer boredom. They get their shits and giggles pulling pranks and making asses of themselves in one of the 10 best boot camp movies.
“Tribes” – Another forgotten film, “Tribes” is a made-for-TV film from the 70’s that pits an old-fashioned drill sergeant against a bunch of hippies drafted for Vietnam. As hippies will, the new recruits resist military protocol and become embroiled in a war of ideals with their commanding officer. It’s totally moronic, but fun.
“Private Benjamin” – Goldie Hawn as a spoiled rich girl who joins the military on a whim? What’s not to love? The film is purportedly a comedy, and while some of it intentionally funny, a lot of the film, from the dolled-up pseudo feminists, racial stereotypes (angry black men in the army? WTF?!) and mildly Sapphic bathroom scenes, is accidentally hilarious.
“Jarhead” – Like “Full Metal Jacket,” this is a film that starts with energy, wit and limitless potential in its examination of boot camp and quickly becomes a meandering, visually stunning mess. All of the political content from the book is left out of the film “Jarhead,” so what’s left is a bunch of bored and angry soldiers wandering around the Middle East. But the intro is stellar.