Even though summer movie season seems to be kicking off earlier and earlier each year, most of us consider Memorial Day weekend to be the real start of summer, as well as a time to honor military members who lost their lives while serving our country.

Here are 6 movies you might want to check out this Memorial Day:

 

Hacksaw Ridge – Andrew Garfield stars in this fascinating true story about Desmond Doss, a World War II Army medic who saved 75 soldiers without ever even carrying a gun. During the deadliest battle of the war in Japan, he was able to single-handedly evacuate the wounded despite being hit by both snipers and a grenade himself. The real-life footage of Doss at the end is particularly inspiring.

American Sniper – Bradley Cooper stars as U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, whose shot accuracy across four tours of duty in Iraq helped save countless US soldiers’ lives … and whose reputation made him a target of enemy insurgents. Yet the movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, also explores how — despite the danger — Kyle seemed to be more comfortable in the service than he ever was at home.

Black Hawk Down – Here’s yet another true story on the list, this time directed by Ridley Scott and depicting a 1993 U.S. military mission in Somalia that went disastrously wrong after two US helicopters were shot down and stranded soldiers in enemy territory. It’s got too many famous cast members to name, though it’s worth noting that Tom Hardy makes his feature film debut as a Special Ops member of the 75th Rangers. It’s both a brutal reality-check on the cost of war as well as an inspiring story of brotherhood and heroism.

Saving Private Ryan – Widely regarded as one of the most powerful and realistic war films in existence, director Steven Spielberg places us right in the middle of World War II’s D-Day invasion of Normandy. Loosely based on real events, the plot follows Tom Hanks as Captain John Miller, whose squad is charged with locating Private Ryan (Matt Damon) despite nearly impossible odds.

Last Flag Flying – Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston star as Vietnam War buddies who reunite, reminisce and come to terms with the past over the course of a road trip after one of their sons is killed in Iraq.

The Hurt Locker – Jeremy Renner’s career took off after his Oscar-nominated performance in this movie where he plays Staff Sergeant James, head of elite squad of soldiers who disarm bombs amidst the chaos of the Iraq War. If you’ve never seen this one, the fact that it won 6 Academy Awards — including Best Picture — should convince you! But be prepared to bite all of your fingernails off.

 

From our family at Redbox to yours, we wish you a safe and relaxing Memorial Day.