I watch a lot of television, movies, trailers, and trailer breakdowns for work, but here's the thing: I can't tell you or anyone else what makes a genuinely good military movie or show, especially if I haven't seen it yet. And I wouldn't call myself a "critic" in the classic sense. Then again what do they know; they said The Hurt Locker was a masterpiece.

What I do know, is that I get excited about stories that make an honest effort to achieve some measure of authenticity, whether it's a full blown dramatic reenactment of some major conflict, or seeing characters interact (even briefly) in a way you recognize, because you've had those conversations on base, overseas, or while you were drunk at one in the morning in the barracks.

At their best, military movies and shows focus on a character's service as more than a lazy plot device to explain why they're good with guns, have a high and tight, or shout out bits of military lingo at random moments; at their very worst, they may trot out the broken vet trope to add a little drama. And of course, there's the laziest of them where everyone's an operator — even lawyers, apparently.

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Gun crew from Regimental Headquarters Company, 23rd Infantry, firing 37mm gun during an advance against German/Wikimedia Commons

The filmmakers who gave the world Saving Private Ryan, and Jarhead are shipping out to recreate World War I in the upcoming drama 1917.

The film will be produced by Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan) and directed by Sam Mendes (Jarhead, Skyfall, Spectre, Road to Perdition) — and the two are going to work on it as soon as next month.

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World War I Centennial Commission photo by Matthew McCoy

To recognize the centennial anniversary of World War I, the United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, is celebrating our military forbears in uniform with… well, a different set of uniforms.

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Task & Purpose illustration by Matt Battaglia

During World War I, beyond the wire and away from the confines of the trenches lived the wild men of No Man’s Land. These soldiers — stragglers from seven armies that clashed on the battlefields of Europe — came together as a band of deserters to make a home in the desolate space between their warring countrymen, slipping into abandoned trenches to scavenge for loot and food to stay alive. In the first global war, they became soldiers with no nation.

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