Every year we celebrate the greatest country in the world by blowing up a small part of it. The 4th of July is the remembrance of when our fore fathers helped lead this nation out from under the umbrella of British tyranny. Many movies celebrating patriotism have been made over the years. In honor of America’s birthday, these are my Top 10 4th of July Movies.
10. “Hidden Figures” (2016):
Of all the countries on this planet, the only feet to set foot on the moon are the toes of United States citizens. It was an undertaking that seemed next to impossible and required the work of N.A.S.A. staff and engineers rising to the occasion to ensure our astronauts could explore a frontier humans had yet to see. This endeavor took place right in the middle of the Civil Rights movement and not far removed from women earning the right to vote. “Hidden Figures” combines both of those topics and tells the true story of three strong black women that the largest trip to space ever would not be possible without their work. Led by Taraji P. Henson as a genius mathematician, “Hidden Figures” shows how the greatest achievements in history are often achieved by those nobody knows about.
9. “The Patriot” (2000):
The Revolutionary War was literally the first great achievement in U.S. history. A bunch of regular citizens banded together to defeat one of the most dominate empires ever in the British. Yes the French helped, but we returned the favor as we all know. A former soldier technically fighting under the gauge of the King, Mel Gibson plays a colonialist who has retired from war to be with his family on their slave free plantation. When the war begins, the notorious killer refuses to take up arms. That is, until they attack his home and kidnap his oldest son. That is when Gibson goes on a maniacal rampage to defeat any and all red coated S.O.B.’s in sight. With his unbelievable military acumen in his back pocket, Gibson creates one of the most skilled American militias full of men not trained in combat. “The Patriot” is about what made our country great. The sheer will to never be oppressed.
8. “An American Tail” (1986):
In the early portion of the 20th century, millions of Europeans immigrated to the U.S. to escape oppressive governments and to live the ‘American Dream’. Many of these boats were filled with the poor and hungry. With that comes rats. Perhaps the most lovable little rodent ever came from Russia, and his name is Feivel. The joyous little guy cannot wait to get to America, but unfortunately is separated from his family during the boat ride over. A journey filled with various obstacles is required before Feivel can be reunited with his family. “An American Tail” is a great way to introduce children the innocent side of the opportunities this country can offer foreigners.
7. “United 93” (2006):
The terrorist attack on 9/11 was of course one of the most tragic moments in American history. Countless innocent people died during as well as after the calculated hit orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden. Multiple planes were used as missiles to send us a message of evil. One plane did not achieve it’s endgame. Flight“United 93” was set to crash into a key Washington target once the terrorists took over the plane. Knowing that death is almost certain, the passengers were able to thwart the terrorist plot, resulting in the plane crashing in an open field in Pennsylvania. “United 93” is a great example of every day people rising to the occasion and doing something incredibly heroic that saved lives that were not already lost.
6. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014):
I mean c’mon, this one is easy. While Superman is the O.G. superhero, how do you get anymore patriotic than a dude named Captain America? This unstoppable steroid induced badass with a red, white, and blue shield has been fighting off enemies from Nazi’s with Red Skull faces to space armies for decades. And he always looks handsome as hell when saving the world. The strongest solo outing for the hero is no doubt “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. The second individual story in Cap’s run with the MCU, “Winter Soldier” takes things a bit more serious but in the right ways. Chris Evans returns to face his toughest challenge, a brain washed anti-superhero that was once his best friend. The action is less big spectacle space war stuff like in the “Avengers” movies and more close combat, highlighted by an elevator fight scene with Cap kicking everyone’s ass. This guy is the embodiment of ‘AMERICA’!
5. “Rocky IV” (1985):
The whole Cold War conflict between us and the Russians went on far too long with just about zero outcome for anyone. Sylvester Stallone solved what was a 40 plus year non-war within two hours. Put two greased up boxers from either country and let them have at it Mano-e-Mano. “Rocky IV” is obviously not the best in the franchise, but it is the most patriotic. After that angry Russian Ivan Drago kills Apollo Creed when he comes into the ring dancing to the James Brown tune ‘Living in America’, it is up to Rocky to achieve vengeance for his friend and country. With the title match taking place on foreign soil, the Italian Stallion shows that Ruskie who the real champ is.
4. “Malcolm X” (1992):
Racism continues to exist in the world. In America the penultimate fight after slavery for minorities was the Civil Rights movement. There were many different iterations of this racially charged fight. Dr. Martin Luther King was the face of peaceful protests in hopes of gaining equality. Then you had the angrier side of the coin that, for obviously justifiable reasons, hated how the white community had treated them. The face of that movement was “Malcolm X”, the subject of one of director Spike Lee’s best films to date. Denzel Washington was the perfect driving force of an actor to play the historic leader. While there are so many great aspects of this country, it would be un-American to forget our faults.
3. “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” (1939):
Politicians are pretty much always an in-between of sleaze-bag and idealist. Most are hard to trust. Part of the job I suppose. Every once and a while there is a genuine good one who is actually trying to do the right thing for our country. Director Frank Capra’s classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is the story of one such character. Jimmy Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, your basic every-man type who is thrust into office to fill a sudden vacant seat in the senate. Smith is naive with no real political experience. But he is a good man and refuses to allow rampant political corruption stop him from doing what is right for U.S. citizens and their communities. It is refreshing, especially considering our current administration, when every once in a while a leader can actually give a damn about us and not their pocket book.
2. “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989):
The Vietnam War was another big stain on American history. Nothing good came from it for anyone. One of the biggest atrocities took place on our own soil. The war was wrong and took place for pure political agendas. But that had nothing to do with the brave soldiers, many of which were drafted, being treated like criminals once they returned home. Tom Cruise is a soldier who comes back partially paralyzed from a gun shot wound. The anti-war protestors gave heroes like him no respect. Cruise’s character in “Born on the Fourth of July” loves America before the war and continues to love it afterwards, just in a different way. The Stars and Stripes give all Americans the right to protest and question authority, which is exactly what this brave soldier does with a flag in his hand.
1. “Independence Day” (1996):
If a giant fireworks display were a movie, it would be called “Independence Day”. The perennial mid-90’s action extravaganza “Independence Day” had it all. Huge stars, giant explosions, and exterminating aliens. The president played by Bill Pullman is facing quite the predicament when giant alien spaceships show up around the world ready to take over. Nations are forced to become united in hopes of avoiding annihilation. With Will Smith being the super-soldier and Jeff Goldblum the genius who discovers how to defeat the enemy, it becomes clear that we will not go quietly into the night. As the president yells to the troops; “TODAY, WE CELEBRATE OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY!”