I’m going to level with you, there’s no movie out there quite like Apocalypse Now. It is, undeniably, a masterpiece, and the greatest (anti) war film ever made. Epic, brutal, cerebral, and wonderfully acted, this was the movie that almost gave Francis Ford Coppola a nervous breakdown. It also might be his finest work. It’s not a fun or enjoyable watch, but it’s an unforgettable journey through man’s Heart of Darkness (get it?). If you’re looking for some movies like Apocalypse Now, these are the best I could find.
Movies Like Apocalypse Now
If you’re looking for movies similar to Apocalypse Now, there’s no doubt you’re going to be looking for something based in times of war and conflict. But, it will be movies that focus more on the psychological affects of war, as opposed to showing actual battles. What you want are movies that are character studies, and get deep into the psyche of the soldiers involved. Here are a few of the best Apocalypse Now alternatives, for your consideration.
Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Oliver Stone was never a director to hold back when it comes to anti-war material. The former Vietnam vet is better placed than most to explore the themes of war. Tom Cruise, in one of his best roles, plays Ron Kovic who returns from Vietnam paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. He struggles to adapt to life on the fringes of the world he has fought for. A visceral and moving movie that, like Apocalypse Now, looks at the consequences of Vietnam on the lives of individuals. This is one of the best movies like Apocalypse Now, and it stars Tom Cruise, so that’s an instant two thumbs up.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Stanley Kubrick’s unflinching tale of war and its effects on the human psyche is often a rough watch, but it’s an important film. The movie takes on a two-part structure and works as a criticism of masculinity. The film also explores the theme of brainwashing, which is something also explored in Apocalypse Now. Both films also explore the issues of psychological breakdowns that often affect soldiers in times of conflict. If you loved Apocalypse Now you’ll certainly love Full Metal Jacket and Kubrick’s take on war.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Perhaps the one movie on this list that gets the closest to the themes explored so wonderfully in Apocalypse Now. The Deer Hunter follows three Russian American soldiers whose lives are altered after they become PoWs in Vietnam. After their escape, the movie focuses on the psychological damage war inflicts on the men and women involved. Much like Apocalypse Now, it serves to illustrate the horror and futility of war, especially the Vietnam War, and how the people involved are never the same. If you’re looking for the best movie like Apocalypse Now, it’s this one.
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Yes, it’s a comedy. And yes, it’s taken a thin slice of Apocalypse Now and made a movie out of it. But, this war spoof is heaps of fun and will inject a bit of humor into a bleak list, to be honest. The movie follows a group of actors and filmmakers who go into the jungle to shoot a war movie, and end up having to become the soldiers they’re pretending to be. There are Apocalypse Now references throughout the whole thing, and the central messages are the same – war is terrible, especially when you have no clue you’re taking part in one. Plus it’s got a chubby, balding Tom Cruise doing that dance!
As I stated before, Apocalypse Now is such a unique movie that it’s difficult to find anything quite like it. But, there are plenty of excellent war movies out there that share similar themes and ideals. Being an anti-war movie, Apocalypse Now does its best to convey the futility and stupidity of war. And, these movies that are similar to Apocalypse Now also do a great job of conveying that too.