Martial law is a topic that has captured the imagination of filmmakers for decades. From suspenseful thrillers to thought-provoking dramas, movies about martial law provide a unique insight into the complexities and consequences of this extreme measure.
We’ve decided to bring you a top 10 movies about martial law that bring greater insight into the themes of power, justice, resistance, and staying alive. Get ready to be transported into a world where the lines between right and wrong become blurred, and the human spirit is tested in the face of adversity.
1. The Day After (1983)
What it’s about: The Day After follows a small community in Kansas as they navigate life’s challenges in a world where the conflict has destroyed most civilization. Through the struggles of the surviving characters.
Why you should watch it: the movie deals with strong themes of the psychological toll of war and the importance of community in the face of such mass destruction. The movie also vividly shows how quickly the community can descend into total madness and chaos when the lack of resources and basic human necessities comes into question.
2. A Taxi Driver (2017)
What it’s about: A Taxi Driver is a South Korean movie that tells the story of a poor struggling taxi driver who takes a job to drive a foreign journalist to cover the Gwangju Uprising in 1980 in the hopes of earning enough money to cover his basic human needs. Through the journey, he witnesses the violence and tragedy of the event and transforms from a simple man into a hero.
Why you should watch it: The movie deals with political and civil unrest themes. It deals with oppression and desperation, as well as glimpses of hope.
3. The Siege (1998)
What it’s about: The Siege (1998) takes place in New York City during heightened terror alerts. The film follows an FBI agent (Denzel Washington) and a CIA operative (Annette Bening) as they work to stop terrorist attacks on the city. As the attacks escalate and martial law is declared, the characters must navigate a complex web of politics, loyalty, and the limits of their beliefs to find and stop the perpetrators.
Why you should watch it: The Siege perfectly highlights the tension between security measures and individual rights during times of war. Some liberties that we lose during crisis times we might never again regain.
4. Captive State (2019)
What it’s about: The film follows a young man named Gabriel who joins a group of rebels fighting against the alien government and its oppressive regime. As they work to uncover the truth behind the alien invasion and its motives, they must navigate the dangerous world filled with informants and the constant threat of surveillance. The movie shows both sides of society: those who collaborate with the oppressive alien government and those who defy it.
Why you should watch it: The major themes of the movie are oriented toward civil rights, martial law, a collaboration between individuals, and the struggle for freedom and autonomy in a world where humanity is under alien rule. If you’re interested in those, I recommend you watch this movie.
5. Songbird (2020)
What it’s about: Songbird deals with the scenario in which Covid-23 has mutated and is extremely more lethal than it was. The film follows the story of a courier named Nico who navigates the dangerous streets of Los Angeles to deliver black market goods, all while trying to protect his girlfriend, who is infected with the virus. Nico must use his wit and bravery to get past the city’s strict quarantine measures and complete his delivery while uncovering a dark conspiracy and facing challenges from those who will stop at nothing to protect their interests.
Why you should watch it: The movie explores the lengths people will go to protect their loved ones and their sacrifices to survive. The film also touches on the theme of government control and surveillance in a society facing a global crisis.
6. Children of Men (2006)
What it’s about: Imagine a world where humanity cannot produce children. This is exactly the theme that the movie follows. The film follows Theo Faron, a disillusioned government bureaucrat, as he tries to protect a young woman who may be the key to saving mankind from extinction.
Why you should watch it: Hope, social bonds, and the value of human life are put to the test in this dystopian future. The movie explores the impact of infertility on society and the effects of government policies on human rights and individual freedoms.
7. How It Ends (2018)
What’s it’s about: How It Ends follows the journey of Will, a young man who embarks on a dangerous journey to find his pregnant fiancé trapped on the other side of the country after a mysterious event has left the world in chaos. Along the way, Will teams up with a veteran of the US military, who helps him navigate the dangers of the post-apocalyptic world to find his fiancé.
Why you should watch it: Like Songbird, the movie deals heavily with themes of individual freedom in the face of adversity. Likewise, it shows what people are willing to do to protect their loved ones.
8. The Handmaid’s Tale (1990)
What it’s about: Most of you have heard and watched the massively popular series The Handmaid’s Tale, which was based on the books written by Margaret Atwood. In 1990, the movie was released, and it was also adapted from books. The film takes place in a totalitarian society where women are stripped of their rights and forced into reproductive servitude. The story follows the journey of Offred, a handmaid who tries to survive in this oppressive regime and find a way to reclaim her freedom.
Why you should watch it: This movie is a cautionary tale about the consequences of relinquishing personal freedom and giving in to the forces of oppression.
9. Melancholia (2011)
What it’s about: It’s the end of the world as the planet Melancholia is on a collision course with Earth. The movie follows two sisters, Justine and Claire, as they struggle to cope with impending doom, leading to a dramatic conclusion.
Why you should watch it: This movie is a bit light on the oppression compared to most of the movies on this list. Still, it deals with the inevitability of death and the meaning of existence in the wake of massive social distress.
10. 28 Days Later (2002)
What it’s about: Danny Boyle’s hit 28 Days Later takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a highly infectious virus has wiped out most of the human population. The story follows Jim, a man who wakes up from a coma 28 days after the outbreak and navigates the dangerous world filled with infected individuals in search of safety and other survivors.
Why you should watch it: This horror movie explores themes of survival, isolation, and the aftermath of the global catastrophe. The film also touches upon the ethics of survival and the lengths individuals are willing to go to protect themselves and their loved ones.