Best Sea Battle Movies

A Strong Naval fleet was and always will be a decisive factor for any empire in history, as it helps them gather resources and manpower to achieve victory. The best sea battle movies portray how difficult it can be to dominate the seas, and all skills you need to become a marine sailor and soldier. Many of these films are exciting explorations of life and death; fighting against the enemy and the temperamental sea. Watch our list of best sea war films and witness the triumph of the human spirit.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – 2003

A war movie and one of the best sea battle movies created by Peter Weir, and starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. It’s about Captain Jack Aubrey who is chasing Acheron, the French privateer, during the Napoleonic Wars. When Aubrey learns that Acheron is present in the Atlantic Ocean near South America, he knows that his ship doesn’t have the same equipment, and the battle will not be equal, but he believes that he can win anyway.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 18 minutes

Movie Type: Action, Adventure and War.

Midway – 2019

A movie directed by Roland Emmerich, and starring Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, and Woody Harrelson. It’s set in 1942 about Midway battle, from the point of view of the sailors’ leader. The clash was between the American fleet and the Japanese Navy, and it affected the power balance in the Pacific ocean, and prevented the Japanese Navy from attacking the West Coast of the United States of America.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 18 minutes

Movie Type: Action, History and Drama.

Greyhound – 2020

One of the best ship battle movies directed by Aaron Schneider, and starring Tom Hanks and Elisabeth Shue. The movie is based on a story by C.S. Forester named “The Good Shepherd” and it is set in 1942. It’s about a convoy related to the Allies. While they were crossing the North Atlantic, they get attacked by a German submarine. This was the first voyage for the US Navy commander across the Atlantic, and he is facing extreme conditions: the cold, the brutal sea, the fatigue, and the enemy.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 31 minutes

Movie Type: Action, Drama and History.

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage – 2016

One of the best sea action movies directed by Mario Van Peebles, and starring Nicolas Cage, and Tom Sizemore. The movie is about the true story of the crew of USS Indianapolis. They find themselves stranded in the Philippine Sea for five days while they tried to deliver the atomic bombs to the other soldiers during World War II.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 8 minutes

Movie Type: Action, Drama and History.

The Admiral: Roaring Currents – 2014

A movie directed by Han-min Kim, and one of the best ship battle movies starring Choi Min-sik, and Ryu Seung-ryong. The movie is set in 1597 about Myeongryang battle in the era of the Japanese invasion of Korea. It depicts how the iconic admiral Yi Sun-sin destroyed 31 Japanese warships near the Korean southwest coast, gaining one of the biggest victories in this war. The war continued for about six years.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 8 minutes

Movie Type: Action, Drama and History.

U-571 – 2000

A war movie created by Jonathan Mostow and one of the best sea battle movies starring Matthew McConaughey and Bill Paxton. It is about the German war code during World War II, which was the biggest challenge facing the Allies at this time, until one of the Nazi U-boats got shipwrecked and sent an SOS signal. This is when the Allies thought it is the right time to get the enigma coding machine, and to do that they masquerade as Nazis, to pull the U-boat. They did that successfully until they got stranded.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 56 minutes

Movie Type: Action, and War.

Dunkirk – 2017

A Christopher Nolan movie and one of the best sea battle movies about Fionn Whitehead and Barry Keoghan. The movie is set during World War II about the siege of Dunkirk, where more than 400 thousand French and British soldiers were surrounded by the German army and lost all contact with their army. The only way out was the sea but the German air force covered the entire area, making it an unsafe solution. The British army sent civilian boats to rescue them.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 46 minutes

Movie Type: Drama, History, and War.

300: Rise of an Empire – 2014

Another one of the best sea action movies directed by Noam Murro, and starring Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green and Lena Headey. The movie is about the Persian Army and how it achieved an epic victory over Leonidas’ 300. They march, lead by their commander Xerxes, into Athens with their great fleet lead by admiral Themistocles. The admiral forms a reluctant alliance with Sparta’s oligarchic, because they have superior infantry troops and they have the power on land, but still he has the power on the sea.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 42 minutes

Movie Type: Drama, Action, and War.

The Hunt for Red October – 1990

A movie directed by John McTiernan, and one of the best sea action movies starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin. The movie is about Captain Marko Ramius, the commander of a Soviet Union nuclear submarine, which is nicknamed “Red October”. The captain gets involved with CIA agent Jack Ryan in a tense situation, but everything turns upside down when Captain Ramius defects with his precious submarine, and joins the United States’ side.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Movie Type: Action, Adventure and Thriller.

Admiral – 2015

A movie directed by Roel Reiné and starring Frank Lammers and Sanne Langelaar. The movie is one of the best sea battle movies and it is about the triple attack of Germany, France and the great Kingdom of England, on the republic of The Netherlands. This threatened the country and ignited a civil war, but only one man can protect his country from this destiny, and he is Michiel de Ruyter the commander of the the Dutch fleet, the strongest weapon that can defeat all their enemies.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 31 minutes

Movie Type: Action, Biography and Drama.

Hornblower: Retribution –2001

Another war movie directed by Andrew Grieve, and starring Ioan Gruffudd and Robert Lindsay. The movie is about Horatio Hornblower and the ship crew of HMS Renown that got imprisoned in Jamaica, while their captain James Sawyer was illegally relieved of his duties. Everything started when 1st Lt. Buckland wanted to attack a Spanish island against Sawyer’s will, instead of going back to Jamaica safely.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 38 minutes

Movie Type: Adventure, War and Drama.

Cleopatra – 1963

One of the best naval war movies ever created by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Rouben Mamoulian, and starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The movie is set in 48 B.C, about Cleopatra VII the queen of Egypt, and how she seduced Julius Caesar. After his big victory against Pompey the Great, she used him to get more power and more authority. She did what she wanted and everything went well for a while, especially after the born of her son Caesarion. However, after the unexpected death of Caesar, she falls in love with the Roman General Mark Antony, he loves her as well. and this makes him weak and lets his competitor Octavian defeat him.

Movie Time: 3 hours and 12 minutes

Movie Type: Biography, History and Drama.

Hornblower: The Even Chance – 1998

A movie directed by Andrew Grieve, and starring Ioan Gruffudd and Robert Lindsay. The movie is set in the era of the French Revolution, from the point of view of the British fleet midshipman Horatio Hornblower. Horatio and the crew on the ship were about to reach their home, before a clash happens between him and his shipmate Simpson; a bully that terrifies everyone on the ship. The event leads to a duel, but one of Horatio’s mates replace him and gets killed. The army assigned Horatio and Simpson on two different ships to stop their conflict, but they meet again during the war with France, and get involved in another duel.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 33 minutes

Movie Type: Adventure, War and Drama.

Crimson Tide – 1995

An action movie and one of the best sea battle movies directed by Tony Scott, and starring Gene Hackman, and Denzel Washington. The movie is about the nuclear sub USS Alabama, which goes on a mission to arrest a group of Russian rebels and the nuclear missiles they had. The American submarine crew choose Hunter to be their commander in this mission, but on their way an incident happened: Hunter and the Ramsey the submarine’ Captain disagreed about how to handle it, and the tension elevates between them until Hunter relieve Ramsey from his duties, but some of the fleet officers think that Hunter is not good enough to be their leader.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 56 minutes

Movie Type: Action, Thriller and Drama.

Phantom – 2013          

A history movie created by Todd Robinson, and starring Ed Harris and David Duchovny. The movie is set during the Cold War, when the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet is chased by a Soviet submarine, and was about to use a nuclear weapon against them. The battle was about to start in the depths of the South Pacific, but Captain Dmitri Zubov listens to logic and chooses not to destroy the whole world over some crazy instructions. He chose a better future for himself and for everyone on Earth.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 38 minutes.

Movie Type: History, Thriller and Drama.

Hunter Killer – 2018      

An action movie directed by Donovan Marsh and starring Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman and Common. The movie is about the mysterious disappearing of the U.S. submarine, the USS Tampa Bay in the Arctic while it was chasing a Russian submarine. This makes Admiral John Fisk send another submarine called USS Arkansas to find it, under commanding of Joe Glass. He also sent a team of Navy SEAL commanded by Lieutenant Bill Beaman in an observation mission to a Russian naval base. At the same time, Russian defense minister Dmitri Durov defects and starts a coup on the Russian President Zakarin, which could lead to an unexpected war.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 1 minute.

Movie Type: Thriller and Action.

The Adventures of Tintin – 2011      

A Steven Spielberg animation movie starring Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig. It’s about Tintin who bought a Unicorn model ship for only one pound, Tintin knows that Mr. Sakharine wants it and will do anything to get it from him, even if he murders or kidnaps him and his beloved dog.  Sakharine sails on an old ship to Morocco and bribes the ship crew to revolt against Captain Haddock, who escapes with Tintin and his dog to Morocco. Haddock told Tintin that he also has the Unicorn ship model, from his ancestor Sir Francis Haddock who fought against a pirate from Sakharine’s ancestors 300 years ago.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 47 minutes.

Movie Type: Adventure, Animation and Action.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age – 2007

A biography movie and one of the best sea battle movies, starring Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen, and directed by Shekhar Kapur. The movie is set in 1588 about two empires colliding: the Papist Spain and England. Spain wants to defeat queen Elizabeth, and they need to create a rational reason for attacking her empire. Philip builds an armada and sets a trap for the queen and her principal secretary, Walsingham, using her cousin Mary Stuart. He sent his armada to rendezvous with the French force to attack England. Could he win the war at the end?

Movie Time: 1 hour and 54 minutes.

Movie Type: Biography, Drama and History.

Hornblower: Loyalty – 2003

A movie directed by Andrew Grieve and one of the best sea action movies starring Ioan Gruffudd and Robert Lindsay. The movie is one of a series about Horatio Hornblower after the French war. He wants to build his own ship, but the army did not give him a promotion, and he found himself just a poor Lieutenant making some money from playing cards. His life becomes better when Sir Edward Pellew promotes him to a commander and puts him in charge on a sloop, the HMS Hotspur. His mission was to transfer a french officer to the coast, but he found the French army prepared for an attack, so Horatio prepared himself and his crew to a new battle after he dealt with the traitors on his sloop.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 5 minutes.

Movie Type: Adventure, Drama and War.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – 2003         

A movie directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Keira Knightley. The movie is one of the best sea battle movies and it’s about Captain Jack Sparrow the famous pirate and his friend Will Turner the blacksmith. They both went on an adventure to find the governor’s daughter Elizabeth Swann. Elizabeth also is in love with Will, and she has been kidnapped by the cursed Captain Barbossa and his crew who can neither live nor die forever until they perfom a blood sacrifice.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 23 minutes.

Movie Type: Adventure, Action and Fantasy.

The Wolf’s Call – 2019    

An action movie created by Antonin Baudry, and starring François Civil and Omar Sy. It is about a young submariner working onboard a French nuclear submarine. He has superior hearing abilities that make him very important to his team, but he did a mistake and that put the whole crew in danger, causing them to lose their trust in him. However, they found themselves in a dramatic situation, dragged into a crisis that could lead to a nuclear war.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 18 minutes.

Movie Type: Action and Thriller.

K-19: The Widowmaker – 2002      

Another one of the best sea battle movies directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and starring Harrison Ford and Sam Spruell. The movie is set in 1961 about Captain Alexi Vostrikov and his crew, who commanded the first nuclear ballistic submarine in the Soviet Union. On their first voyage through the North Atlantic, the submarine suffered from a malfunction, and the crew must race against the clock to save themselves and prevent a nuclear disaster like Chernobyl.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 55 minutes.

Movie Type: Drama, History and Thriller.

Sink the Bismarck! – 1960     

An action movie directed by Lewis Gilbert, and starring Kenneth More and Dana Wynter. The movie is set during World War II from the point of view of Captain Jonathan Shepard, the Director of Operations at British Naval. He was chasing a masterpiece in the German Navy, the Bismarck warship. When he heard about it’s presence in the North Atlantic, he faced it with the best ships in his fleet. At first, the Royal Navy appears to be losing, but then they go after Bismarck in the Mediterranean  sea, with the aid of an aircraft carrier called the Ark Royal. They attack the Bismarck one more time on the French coast and inflict major damages to it. This attack gives a chance to the surface fleet to complete the job and make it sink.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Movie Type: Drama, History and Action.

The Cruel Sea – 1953    

A war movie and one of the best sea battle movies set during World War II. The movie is directed by Charles Frend, and starring Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden. It’s from the point of view of Ericson, the commander of the HMS Compass Rose. Most of his crew are inexperienced officers, but all of them need to cooperate together to rescue the survivors from the attacked U-Boats. They also need to strike back at their enemies. They face many challenges including the bad weather and the turbulent sea.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 6 minutes.

Movie Type: Drama and War.

Battle Hell – 1957     

A war movie directed by Michael Anderson, and starring Richard Todd and William Hartnell. The movie is about the British warship Amethyst which was sailing in an open sea in 1949, but it has been attacked by Communist Chinese shore batteries. It puts the Lieutenant Commander Kerans in a precarious situation where he needs to surrender to the Chinese and let his country use him for negotiations.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 53 minutes.

Movie Type: Drama, History and War.

The Enemy Below – 1957   

Another one of the best sea war films directed by Dick Powell, and starring Robert Mitchum and Curd Jürgens. The movie is set during World War II, from the point of view of the crew of an American destroyer USS Haynes. The crew was sailing in the South Atlantic, and met a German U-boat accidentally, then a deadly clash starts between them. The commander Captain Morel had to use all his skills to defeat the German commander.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 38 minutes.

Movie Type: Drama, Action and Adventure.

Read also: Best Navy SEAL War Movies

The Bedford Incident – 1965

Another war movie directed by James B. Harris, and starring Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier, the movie is about Capt. Eric Finlander the captain of the American destroyer USS Bedford. He gives permission to a reporter called Sidney Poitier to make an interview with him, but he got so much more than just interview, because the USS bedford discovered a submarine related to the Soviet Union, and its’ crew must prepare for battle.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 42 minutes.

Movie Type: Drama and Thriller.

The Final Countdown – 1980

Another one of the best sea battle movies directed by Don Taylor, and starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen. The movie is set in 1980, about Warren Lasky who was promoted to become an assistant of the defense department. His first mission was to visit the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. Lasky met the commander Capt. Matthew Yelland and Richard T. Owens the Commander Air Group, who has a good knowledge of history. Suddenly they face a storm, but not a usual storm, it is a storm that can take you back in time, few hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Could they change history?

Movie Time: 1 hour and 43 minutes.

Movie Type: Action, Adventure and Sci-fi.

The Bounty – 1984

A history movie and one of the best naval war movies ever directed by Roger Donaldson, and starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins. The movie is set in 1788, about Lieutenant Bligh the cruel ship commander who forced his own crew to revolt against him, because he subjected them to corporal punishment after they didn’t obey his order in Tahiti. The incident makes his Second Lieutenant Fletcher Christian start a mutiny against him.

Movie Time: 2 hours and 12 minutes.

Movie Type: History, Adventure and Drama.

Black Sea – 2014

Another one of the best sea battle movies directed by Kevin Macdonald, and starring Jude Law and Scoot McNairy. The movie is about Robinson, a submarine captain, recently made redundant from his company. Robinson left everything behind him and went on the adventure of a lifetime to find a treasure of golden ingots that sunk with a Nazi U-boat, and he did that under the nose of the hostile Russian fleet, under the cold water of the Black sea.

Movie Time: 1 hour and 54 minutes.

Movie Type: Thriller, Adventure and Drama.

Hanan Hikal
Hanan Hikal
Articles: 62

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