Since the early 1990s, Brad Pitt has been in the Hollywood spotlight with some of the biggest roles the industry can offer. He’s starred in epic westerns, psychological thrillers, science fiction stints, and even a few heist movies by way of the Ocean’s trilogy. He isn’t known for a genre in particular, unlike John Wayne and Clint Eastwood for their westerns or Al Pacino and Robert De Niro for their roles in gangster flicks. However, as perhaps few film fans have actually picked up on, Brad Pitt has starred — or at least appeared — in several war movies throughout his career.
Some of them are among the most popular titles that Pitt has ever taken part in, while others flew a bit under the general public’s radar. At least, by today standards of popularity. But it’s also worth noting that films like Legends of the Fall (1994) are not of the war genre despite being set partially during that time.
And, for what it’s worth: although it does have the word within its actual title, World War Z (2013) is clearly a horror film — or at least an action-horror film, if you want to get technical things. It can hardly be considered a product of the war genre no matter the extent to which fans enjoyed the film. So, that project will also be omitted. But with all that said, it’s time to move in. Here’s every war movie Brad Pitt starred in, ranked.
6 War Machine (2017)
The most recent film on the list, War Machine (2017) is also the worst, to be frank. But that isn’t to say it’s bad, necessarily — it isn’t great either, but definitely middle of the war path. It stars Brad Pitt, of course, as General Glen McMahon, a character based on the real-life United States Army general Stanley A. McChrystal.
Other cast members include stars such as Anthony Michael Hall, Ben Kingsley, Tilda Swinton, and Topher Grace. And their efforts arguably defined the movie as a whole in terms of actual quality. They caused the most amount of damage from the film’s poorly executed plan of attack. The project as a whole was considered a huge risk for distributor Netflix, and at the end of the day it’s easy to see why.
The script received praise as well for its wit, but that reverence didn’t meet the extent of the cast’s many charismatic performances. In the end though, it’s the worst-reviewed film on the list from the perspective of both critics and audiences, and neither faction was wrong. Its disjointed plot lands War Machine here at number six.
5 Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
American biographical war drama film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. It is based on Austrian mountaineer and Schutzstaffel (SS) sergeant Heinrich Harrer’s 1952 memoir Seven Years in Tibet, about his experiences as a prisoner of war in Tibet between 1944 and 1951. Although, the film does differ from its book counterpart in several disparate fashions.
The film stars Brad Pitt, of course, along with David Thewlis, and it has music composed by John Williams with a feature performance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. That was the most lauded element of the film, by far: the score by John Williams. That’s usually the case with a given film that he works on, though. And with a 58% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s evident that critics were less than impressed in terms of actual quality.
However, that isn’t the worst consensus score in the world, and what’s more is that Seven Years in Tibet(1997) did end up making decent money at the box office. Average audience ratings for the film were positive as well, and has actually aged in a decent manner. Ultimately, though, it does land here at number five.
4 Allied (2016)
It’s rare that Brad Pitt appears in a film nowadays at all unless it’s made by a well-known director. And with the case of Allied (2016): the romantic war drama thriller was directed by Robert Zemeckis, and written by Steven Knight. Two respected craftsmen — particularly with regard to the former — who consistently took part in massive, successful movies like Back to the Future (1985) and Eastern Promises (2007). But for some reason, the foot soldiers of Allied couldn’t quite get into position on this battlefield of moderate quality.
While it was nominated at the 89th Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, Alliedfailed to live up to the high standards of its crew as the film flopped both at the box office and with critics. Well, it has a 60% on critical consensus website Rotten Tomatoes. That’s actually a decent-enough score to be fair, and audiences gave it an even higher rating on the same consensus website.
However, it made roughly five million dollars more than its $113 million budget. That’s not a statistic to write home about from the warfront. And of course, a single nomination at the Oscars isn’t indicative of a film’s quality, especially when the nod was for Best Costume Design, but it does land here at number four. At the end of the day, things could undoubtedly be worse for Allied.
3 Troy (2004)
Along with Brad Pitt, there were several other A-list actors at play in the star-studded cast of Troy (2004): Eric Bana, for example, along with other such as Diane Kruger, Orlando Bloom, and Sean Bean. None of them were particularly praised for their performances, but in open candor: it isn’t as if the film was a precise hit with critics in itself.
A historical drama that chronicles the Trojan War, Brad Pitt stars as Achilles opposite Eric Bana as Hector. As he rallies his Trojan army, Hector fails to defend his historical city from the Greeks. For consolation, though, Brad Pitt failed to capitalize on any opportunities to impress critics with his performance herein. But in his defense, a role like Achilles was never built to facilitate any sort of poignant effort from the chosen actor. In other words: he performed as well as anyone would have expected going in, and in hindsight, he was probably the best actor for the role.
But what’s more is that nobody from Troyreally stood out from the rest — they all performed adequately, only to the extent they needed to in order to facilitate the film’s focus on fast-paced battle sequences or even individual spectacles. And in the end, audiences were more than happy with the finished action-packed product.
2 Fury (2014)
Off the bat, it’s worth mentioning that these top two picks operate on a different level from the rest of the list in terms of quality. But what else is noteworthy is that these are two more films revolving around World War II. Written and directed by David Ayer, Fury (2014) is tangible in its tone from the start — achieved early on through camerawork, the music, and obviously its script (the characters and their dialogue, for instance).
For what it’s worth: Brad Pitt speaks fluent German, and does so here throughout Fury(2014). His character — Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier — calls his speaking the language a tool of war, constantly communicating throughout the film with German soldiers and citizens alike. His team gives him grief for this in hilarious fashion, too.
The characters share a chemistry that permeates through every scene, particularly those with dialogue, which punctuates the violent yet well-shot action sequences like few films of its time. Whether Wardaddy and his crew are bantering back and forth or mowing down Nazi soldiers in their titular tank, Fury(2014) will have you entertained until the last bullet is shot.
1 Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, this is by far Pitt’s most critically successful role in a war film. It’s also likely the project most readers thought of when initially clicking on this list. Pitt stars herein as Lieutenant Aldo Raines, the leader of the titular group of soldiers that fight against Nazi regiments, killing and scalping their victims with no hesitation at all.
The rest of the cast included names like Christoph Waltz — who received widespread acclaim and an Academy Award as S.S. Colonel Hans Landa — along with Mélanie Laurent, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, and Michael Fassbender. But as previously mentioned: Pitt escorted them all to victory as the movie’s leading man.
Much like the list’s previous entry Fury, Brad Pitt also spoke fluent German during production of Inglourious Basterds(2009). However, the Tarantino character was written as a fairly uncultured leader who could only (and poorly at that) speak English, even if he thinks he can speak a little bit of Italian. This isn’t the best performance of Brad Pitt’s career, far from it in fact, but it’s undoubtedly the best war movie he’s ever taken part in.