It’s Independence Day, the time when Americans all across the country share in our national pride and honor our forefathers by getting trashed on beer and setting off explosives. In between such festivities, you might be tempted to watch a movie, and it would be damned un-American to view a Michael Moore shockumentary or anything starring Sean Penn on this date.
If you’re gonna celebrate your country’s freedom cinematically, might as well watch the movies whose over-the-top patriotism clearly displays a love for the good old United States. Movies like…
5. Independence Day
Leave it to Twentieth Century Fox to produce a film with this title that has nothing to do with history and everything to do with America saving the world from devastating alien invaders. Honestly, are the French going to release a thinly veiled remake of War of the Worlds and name it Bastille Day? Only in America, folks. Although we spend the first two acts of the film taking as much of a beating as everyone else, with dozens of our most iconic national monuments getting blown to smithereens, eventually, the powerful forces of American ingenuity, American firepower, and the most ridiculous American President ever combine to blow the bad guys outta the sky, with a little help from The Fresh prince of Bel-Air.
While all the other nations of the world are presumably scratching their heads in utter incompetent confusion, we ride in to save the day, as per usual. Their response: “It’s about bloody time.”
Trivia: The computer virus which disarms the aliens was a tribute to War of the Worlds, in which viruses lead to the eventual alien defeat.
4. Rocky IV
With the United States and the Soviet Union still about as mad at each other as two recently broken up middle-schoolers, and such victories as Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon fading in the public consciousness, Sylvester Stallone knew that our nation needed a new hero to remind us that, aside from the potential annihilation of all life on Earth, the Cold War had only one other possible outcome: glorious United States victory.
Ivan Drago, portrayed by Dolph “He-Man” Lundgren, is a steroid-abusing beast of a man, whose symbolic representation of those damned Russkies is about as subtle as one of his punches. After killing Apollo Creed in a match, he is challenged by Rocky, who enters the ring as the underdog, but being a good old-fashioned American, obviously emerges victorious, angering the “We swear that’s not supposed to be Gorbachev” Soviet Premiere and earning the respect of the crowd, as they wrap him up in the American Flag.
Trivia: The only film on this list that was directed by an American.
3. The Patriot
If you’re looking for a film to provide you with a gritty, realistic and historically accurate account of America’s war for Independence, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a film that assures you that the Americans were a universally decent bunch of folks who were all but helpless in the face of the evil Redcoats, then you’ve found your picture (just ignore the fact that its two protagonists are played by Australian actors).
Thrust into the conflict when the remorseless William Tavington, played by Jason Isaacs, murders his young son, Mel Gibson’s Benjamin Martin (he’s so American he’s got two first names) reluctantly joins the fight, constantly outwitting and outbadassing the British troops at every turn, who spend most of the movie sipping tea and saying “Oh dear, that rebel chap certainly has gone crackers, wouldn’t you agree my good man?” (more or less).
Ok, so most war movies tend to reduce complex conflicts to much more convenient good vs. evil storylines, but when you make the other side more vicious and unforgiving then the Empire from the Star Wars films, you might want to work a little bit more on your research skills.
Trivia: Francis Marion, the real individual who served as inspiration for Gibson’s character, was not so morally admirable, having been known to rape his slaves.
2. Behind Enemy Lines
Good-natured American boy Owen Wilson is, well, behind enemy lines, and bad-tempered but still, definitely good-natured American veteran Gene Hackman is his only hope if he wants to get home alive. While being pursued by villains whose names sound like menu items at a Russian restaurant, Wilson has stumbled across evidence of genocide, but NATO’s hand are tied, fearing that the rescue of Wilson’s character would involve trespassing into a no-fly zone and sparking a major civil war. After all, every great patriotic movie has to have that moment in the plot when one or more other lame nations cock-blocks liberty and justice for all. Either way, viewers can worry not, as, at literally the very last second possible, America, maverick that it is, rolls in to gets its boy home.
Trivia: Loosely based on actual events.
1. Air Force One
Ever since the painting of Washington crossing the Potomac made him into the badass action hero of his day, this nation has had a habit of turning our leaders into mythic characters, but few can match the expectations set up by Hollywood. Harrison Ford plays a President who does not negotiate with terrorists, and is willing to put his money where his mouth is when yet another group of eastern European villains messes with us by taking over his plane and demanding the release of a radical general. Rather than returning to Washington to solve this problem behind a desk, he stays on the frontlines, sneaking around the plane and proving that there is nothing more patriotic than close quarters combat and awesome (sort of) one-liners.
Trivia: Keanu Reeves was briefly considered for the role of the President when producers were unsure if Harrison Ford would be available.
The Best Over-the-Top All-American fuck-yeah film ever made, but was not added because technically it’s not exactly “pro” America…. but we love it anyway…
Team (Fucking) America
And in honor of all great American action films..