Movies Like Master and Commander, For More Action and Adventure

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World was showered with praise upon its initial release in November 2003. Peter Weir‘s epic adaptation of Patrick O’Brian‘s novel series instantly skyrocketed to the top of lists that ranked the best naval combat movies of all-time. Unfortunately, there was one juggernaut that Master and Commander couldn’t beat: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Released a month later, Peter Jackson‘s epic conclusion to the Middle Earth saga ended up beating Master and Commander at the Academy Awards.

Although it was critically acclaimed and received a very respectable box office sum, the massive $150 million budget meant that the possibilities of a Master and Commander 2 were smart. What’s sad is that the film was perfectly set up to continue following Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), Stephen Marutin (Paul Bettany), and the crew of the surprise on a series of new adventures. Sadly, this potentially great franchise never got the chance to take off.


However, the film’s reputation hasn’t dwindled in the years since. After years of speculation, it was finally reported that A Monster Calls screenwriter Patrick Ness was working on a new project set within the same universe. Details are still unclear, but hopefully we can expect another Aubrey adventure in the near future. As we wait for more Master and Commandercheck out these similar movies.

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Operation Mincemeat (2022)

One of the reasons that Master and Commander is so beloved is its realistic description of naval combat. While it’s easy to turn wartime conflict into CGI nonsense, Master and Commander showed the strategy, precision, and bravery required of Aubrey and his men. If you’re looking for another recent film that explores the nuances of military strategy, Operation Mincemeat explores a previously classified true story from World War II. The movie follows Ewen Montagu (Colin Firtha) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen)two British intelligence officers that used the body of a fallen soldier to deceive Axis forces into believing that the Allies were preparing an invasion in Greece and Sardinia.

Greyhound (2020)

Master and Commander is certainly a more realistic description of naval combat than most major studio blockbusters. However, the Apple TV+ movie greyhound showed the same level of respect for naval officers in its story of World War II heroes. It’s no wonder why; Tom Hanks, who has worked on several World War II-centric projects, wrote the screenplay himself. He also takes on the lead role of Commander Ernest Krause, a US Navy Commander who leads his crew in a battle against German submarines in the early days of the war.

Operation Final (2018)

Although Master and Commander is very much an “action movie,” it’s also a film that knows the value of discretion. Aubrey has to mask his plans so that his enemies can’t deduce his location. If you’re looking for a fascinating spy thriller with a historical slant, Operation Finale is one of the most underrated movies of the past few years. Based on a true story, the film follows a covert operation by Israeli spies (led by Oscar Isaac‘s Peter Malin) to capture the escaped Nazi Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), so that he can testify to his crimes in front of a world stage. Eichmann was the “architect” of the “Final Solution.”

Crimson Tide (1995)

Master and Commander may have filled your desire for a great naval movie, but if you need something that does the same thing for submarine combat, then you can’t go wrong with Crimson Tide. Tony Scott‘s 1995 blockbuster featured both Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington at the height of their stardom. Hackman stars as the decorated Commanding Officer Captain Frank Ramsey, whose decision to launch a nuclear missile creates tension with his new Lieutenant Commander, Ron Hunter (Washington).

In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

sadly, In the Heart of the Sea suffered the same box office fate that Master and Commander did; that is the problem with releasing your movie a week before Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Although the Moby Dick story has been adapted countless times to the screen, Ron Howard‘s naval epic tries to pay more attention to what actually may have happened. The film is told in flashback, as an older Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson) recalls his time as a young man (Tom Holland) serving on the crew of the Essex with first mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth).

Paths of Glory (1957)

Amidst all the epic combat sequences in Master and Commander, Peter Weir was able to take the time to explore the consequences of war. These men are forced to own up to what they did, and take ownership of their mistakes. Stanley Kubrick explored the aftermath of conflict in his moving World War I film Paths of Glory. Kirk Douglas stars as the French Commanding Officer Colonel Dax, who defends his men against a court-martial. Dax’s men refused to enter a losing battle, and were accused of treason.

Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Master and Commander doesn’t just focus on the crew of the surprise; it takes the time to consider the perspective of their target, the French privateer frigate Acheron. It results in a more well-rounded description of the conflict. The 1957 Best Picture winner Bridge on the River Kwai explores a similar moral quandary. The film follows a group of British soldiers that are captured by the Japanese during World War II, and forced to construct a strategic bridge. When the men begin their rebellion and escape, the British Commander Colonel Nicholson (Sir Alec Guinness) finds that he relates a little too much to his captors.

Captain Phillips (2013)

Master and Commander may have inspired some people to take an interest in sailing. It also may have terrified some viewers into never wanting to be near the water again. If you need any convincing about how truly perilous the open waters can be, Captain Phillips should make things pretty clear. Based on a starting true story, Paul Grengrass‘ awards-nominated thriller follows the titular captain (Tom Hanks) of the container ship MV Maersk Alabama. Phillips and his crew are taken by a crew of Somali pirates, who are led by the terrifying Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdic).

The African Queen (1951)

Captain Phillips may be a little dark for some sailing enthusiasts. If you enjoyed the adventurous quality of Master and Commanderthen you should definitely check out the John Huston classic The African Queen. Humphrey Bogart finally won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Charlie Allnut, the idiosyncratic captain of the steamboat African Queen. Charlie reluctantly agrees to transport the devout British missionary Rose Sayer (Katherine Hepburn) amidst the perils of World War I in this crowd-pleasing two-hander.

Dunkirk (2017)

Christopher Nolan‘s epic description of the Dunkirk evacuation tells three conjoined storylines that offer up different perspectives on the conflict. One of the most moving segments is the storyline devoted to the civilian vessels that helped transport fleeing soldiers to safety. You get a group of untraditional heroes; the Weymouth sailor Dawson (Mark Rylance) takes his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and the young boy George (Barry Keoghan) to the front lines.

1917 (2019)

Master and Commander is one of the most immersive war movies ever made. Sam Mendes took the word “immersion” to the next level with his intense World War I thriller 1917. Utilizing the genius of cinematographer Roger Deakins, Mendes made it appear that the entire film was one continuous shot. The movie follows two young soldiers (George McKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) as they transport a critical message to Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) to warn him about a German trap.

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