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10+ Things That Hollywood Gets Wrong About The Military

Hollywood has a long-standing history with the military and armed forces. And while Tinsel Town has managed to churn out some incredible war period pieces, there is a lot that gets overlooked.

Below are 10+ things Hollywood gets wrong about the military. Have a look and see if you can spot the facts from fiction. Let's get into it! Ten-hut!

Civilian parachutes are different from military issue.


A lot of the time in movies you'll see paratroopers actively maneuvering their parachutes in the air.

In reality, military parachutes offer very little movement. Most paratroopers drop straight down on their targets.

Not all drill-sergeants are horrible people.

Drill Sergeant Danielle Brooks said in an interview with the Daily Republic:

“If you’re yelling and screaming all the time, when are you going to teach them? Patience is a virtue when you are trying to instill discipline.”

Hollywood tends to make a mess of medals.

The Weinstein Company

Pay attention the next time you watch a film like Inglorious Basterds or Saving Private Ryan. Almost every time you see a high-ranking German officer, they have the Iron Cross pinned to their chest.

In reality, this was one of Germany's highest honors and would only have been given to soldiers who showcased exceptional bravery.

Recruit barracks are extremely run-down in real-life.

Universal Pictures

Former U.S. Marine infantryman, James Laporta, explained to GQ that the barracks in the film Jarhead "looks like their in a mental ward."

James goes on to say that the blankets in real-life barracks would be green and incredibly uncomfortable.

For a lot of people, the military life can be incredibly boring.

Keep in mind that many people who are enlisted in the military never see a day of combat. Mechanics, cooks, office workers — the list goes on.

Life on a base, functions more like an office and less like an action movie 95% of the time.

Snipers typically don't hand-load their ammunition.

Paramount Pictures

But how much cooler does it look, am I right? Tom Cruise wouldn't look half as badass firing a semi-automatic rifle as he does loading a bolt-action sniper!

This is a purely Hollywood invention.

Soldiers are often shown with their chin-straps undone.


The look of an undone helmet has a much cooler aesthetic than one which is done-up.

In reality, there's no C/O that would ever allow his regiment to do this. Especially in an active combat situation.

Soldiers don't fire warning shots.

Summit Entertainment

Remember when Jeremy Renner's character shot out the windshield of their would-be assailant's car in The Hurt Locker? If a soldier did that in real-life, they could be court marshaled.

It's a violation of the rules of engagement.

No soldier would ever try to throw a grenade back at the enemy.

Not only is this incredibly dangerous (and stupid) but it's also impossible. Most grenades have a 4-second fuse from the time the pin is pulled and the trigger released.

By the time your brain would have time to even process the thought, you'd already be dead.

You can't hear anything inside a helicopter.

Paramount Pictures

The amount of times you'll see this in films is atrocious. Soldiers will just be having a normal conversation inside a helicopter.

In reality, you'd need to either scream or communicate in hand signals.

Guns and weapons are actually incredibly heavy.

Universal Pictures

For example, there's a scene in Smokin' Aces where Taraji P. Henson's character is literally wielding a .50 caliber sniper rifle with one hand.

In reality, that gun would weigh upwards of 30 pounds!

Soldiers don't just shoot aimlessly.

Firing on automatic mode looks cool for the cameras but it isn't the regular practice of trained marines. Ammo isn't unlimited in real life and comes at a cost.

Soldiers are trained to aim and conserve their rounds as much as possible.

Artillery shells are insanely heavy.

Summit Entertainment

When you see Jeremy Renner pull five of them from the ground (by their detonator cords, no less) in The Hurt Locker that's a big mistake.

Each of those shells would weigh close to 40 lbs.

It's incredibly uncommon for a soldier to "go rogue."

United Artists

Former Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink, was reviewing military movies for GQ. When he spoke about Apocalypse Now, Jocko said:

"Having someone go completely "rogue" like that is pretty unrealistic. It would get picked-up on and they'd be taken out of that situation and put into someplace where they could recover and get a grip on reality."

There's a right and wrong way to salute.

Universal Pictures

Not only that, but the way that a marine salutes, for example, is different than how a sailor in the navy would salute.

But no matter whether the soldiers in most films are American or British, Army or Navy, they all salute the same way.