Life of Pi

18 Great Survival Movies to Watch Right Now

Romantic comedies and Action movies may be people’s favorites. But, realism has always been and will continue to be a terrific theatrical idea because it serves as an inspiration regardless of how the movie turns out.

You will find multiple movies about survival that could be based on actual events or just fiction. They depict the depths of human emotions such as fear, grief, rage, love, and joy, and these films always leave a lasting effect on viewers. They show the essential values of humanity: fortitude, intellect, and endurance.

These movies are based on several stories from those who have survived traumatic events or a single survivor. Survival movies, in any case, provide an exciting and sometimes painful glimpse at a person’s determination to live.

18 Best Survival Movies You Have to Watch

Who doesn’t love to watch survival movies where the movie is far-fetched from some posed action and romantic drama and leans towards the realism where actors work towards surviving different situations. We have a list of one of the best survival movies that you can binge-watch without curbing the craving!

1. 127 Hours (2010)

Run time: 94m

Aron Ralston, a real-life canyoneer and sports enthusiast, wrote the memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which inspired the film. It tells how he lived and escaped after being trapped within an isolated canyon in Utah by a boulder.

Ralston (James Franco) treks through Blue John Canyon in Canyonlands National Park in April 2003. He stumbles and falls, knocking a boulder against the wall, trapping his right hand and wrist. Ralston’s fight for survival begins here. In an attempt to release his hand, he scrapes away at rocks. He makes a movie of himself and limits his food to keep himself sane. He is a water recycler. Ralston can eventually free himself, but only after five exhausting days.

After being stranded for 127 hours, you’d think that he wouldn’t have the endurance to get out of the canyon on his own. On the other hand, Ralston’s will to survive drives him to climb back up and get help.

You might be asking how he managed to get himself out of this mess. He did it in the most heinous and excruciating way possible. This movie is the perfect perseverance survival movie for the viewers to watch!

2. Apollo 13 (1995)

2h 20m

The first story is about surviving in space. The failed 1970 Apollo lunar mission is brought to life in Ron Howard’s iconic television movie. An oxygen tank ruptured, destroying the spaceship and critically decreasing the crew’s oxygen supply. 

Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton star as a trio of astronauts who are compelled to keep their cool and work with NASA on a series of improvised solutions to repair their craft and return home safely in the face of overwhelming odds. The survival skills movie is a must-watch!

3. Into the Heart of the Sea (2015)

Run time: 2h 1m

This adventure-drama film is based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s non-fiction book of the same name, and it depicts the aftermath of the drowning of the New England whaling ship Essex in 1820. It recounts the survivors’ horrific ordeal.

After a massive whale attacked and capsized their ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the crew members fought for survival. The crew had little option but to abandon the sinking Essex and begin the voyage back to shore in the unharmed whaling boats, with few provisions.

The whale is tenacious, and it continues to harass the crew until it eventually chooses to leave them alone. The guys are stranded on the ocean for days on end, facing famine, storms, and other dangers.

When food and water grew limited, the crew began to feel forlorn, and they began to question their judgment. To survive, they are forced to do the unimaginable. The narrative is portrayed through the eyes of Thomas Nickerson, the last living survivor. In an interview with novelist Herman Melville in 1850, he describes the atrocities (whose novel the tragedy essentially inspires Moby-Dick).

4. The Way Back (2010)

Run time: 2h 13m

The film is partially inspired by Sawomir Rawicz’s 1956 memoir The Long Walk, which relates the narrative of a former Polish POW. During World War II, it depicts his escape from a Soviet Gulag and into freedom.

The narrative is told through the eyes of Polish army commander Janusz Wieszczek (Jim Sturgess) and seven other captives as they walk 4,000 kilometers from the Gulag camp. They encounter Irena (Saoirse Ronan), an orphaned Polish girl, on her adventure along the road.

The Way Back is a dramatic survival thriller set in an authentic context in which humans must learn to adapt to their surroundings to survive. The gang braves the bitter cold of Siberia and the scorching and dry conditions of the Mongolian desert in this demanding and strenuous trek.

Despite their difficult circumstances, the film depicts their will to live. They had to fight the bitter cold, hunger, dehydration, sandstorms, sunstroke, and blisters. Despite the questions and suspicions that threaten to undermine their faith in one another, they come to rely on one another. 

5. Lone Survivor (2013)

Run time: 2h 2m

Lone Survivor appeals to war movie fans since it portrays the narrative of survival on enemy territory. It is primarily based on actual events and is recounted from the perspective of a survivor of a SEAL team deployed to war-torn Afghanistan.

Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), and Matthew “Axe” Axelson (Ben Foster) are on a reconnaissance and surveillance operation to track down and assassinate a high-ranking Taliban operative. When they are attacked, the squad lands in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains.

Luttrell is the only one who survives the ordeal. He will live to tell the story of how the crew battled for their lives in the face of overwhelming odds.

Lone Survivor emphasizes the realism of battle conditions and people’s will to survive in the face of overwhelming enemy pressure. It’s a terrible and honest portrayal of the effects of war and an emotional drama about bravery and courage.

6. Everest (2015)

Run time: 2h 1m

Everest is no exception to the rule that the finest survival films are based on actual occurrences. It is based on the 1996 Mount Everest accident and depicts the hardship of a group of climbers trying to stay alive in the face of nature’s freezing conditions.

The film follows New Zealanders Robert Edwin Hall (Jason Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) as they organize separate expeditions to summit the world’s tallest peak. On their last journey to the peak, the gang is greeted by a storm, forcing them to struggle for survival versus nature. They fight through a violent blizzard and the consequences of the subzero temperatures. They make an effort to descend, but it ends in tragedy.

7. The Grey (2011)

Run time: 1h 57m

The film is based on Ian Mackenzie Jeffers’ short tale Ghost Walker, which depicts a crew of oilmen left in Alaska when a storm destroys their jet. Against the threat of wolves and the bitter cold, the guys strive to stay alive.

Among the survivors, John Ottway (Liam Neeson) has exceptional survival abilities, and he quickly gains the leadership of the group. Ottway is a talented hunter who is familiar with wolves. However, on their approach to seek safety in the woods, the guys are cornered by the predatory beasts. The film depicts a classic prey vs. predator scenario in which the former is on unfamiliar ground. The grey wolves are at ease in their surroundings, which allows them to thrive.

8. I Am Legend (2007)

Run time: 1h 41m

Neville (Will Smith), a US Army virologist, lives alone with his dog Samantha. The narrative follows him and his friend as they make the most of the city’s last resources.

The film takes viewers from security checks through the development of security processes to scavenging. We can see how close the two have become throughout their time together. Flashbacks also teach us about previous experiences.

The picture focuses on Neville and his dog for the most part. That is unless the undead decides to hunt again. The two must now learn to survive the zombie apocalypse in whatever way they can.

9. Life of Pi (2012)

Run time: 2h 7m

The film adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel by filmmaker Ang Lee takes audiences on an epic trip across the Pacific Ocean. The hero learns the importance of friendship, discovery, and survival.

The story follows Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma), an Indian youngster who survives a shipwreck but is stranded in the ocean without food or water. The creatures who fell into the lifeboat with him are his sole companions: a lion, zebra, orangutan, and hyena.

As they are wild creatures, they will die one by one. What’s left is a Bengal tiger with whom Pi develops a strong bond and names, Richard Parker. Pi is forced to find ways to survive because of the perils of the water and the unpredictability of the weather. To feed himself and Richard, he learns how to catch fish. After 227 days of searching, the youngster and his friend were rescued.

When faced with adversity, the film emphasizes the significance of adaptability and embracement. It demonstrates that man and beast can coexist, with the former demonstrating innovation and the latter demonstrating learning ability.

10. Behind Enemy Lines (2001)

Run time: 1h 46m

Lieutenant Chris Burnett, an American navy aviation officer who finds himself alone on enemy territory, is played by Owen Wilson, who gives a noteworthy performance.

The film takes place during the Bosnian conflict, and it follows Lt. Burnett as he tries to elude the oncoming enemy. A Serbian paramilitary leader wants to assassinate him because he has proof that genocide atrocities are taking on in a distant Balkan region. Until help arrives, the lone soldier is continuously on the run.

Behind Enemy Lines is a classic escape and rescue mission featuring breathtaking flying sequences, suspense, and anxiety. It depicts flight-or-fight circumstances to perfection.

11. Cast Away (2000)

Run time: 2h 23m

This survival clip illustrates man’s ability to adapt to his surroundings in the face of hopeless rescue attempts. It exemplifies what an excellent and inspiring survival film should be.

The plot revolves around Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), a systems expert who survives a plane disaster on a deserted island. He stayed off the island for years, learning to be content with his modest living conditions of hunting food and building fires.

He has cut himself off from all social connections. Wilson, a volleyball, is his only conversational partner. In this picture, Noland is the He finally flees the island and returns to civilization, much like Crusoe.

12. Gravity (2013)

Run time: 1h 31m

Imagine plummeting through space with no ship to return to if you thought being trapped in space within a ship was scary. Sandra Bullock stars as a medical engineer whose first space mission takes a terrifying turn when space debris destroys her shuttle, killing the rest of the crew. 

Alfonso CuarĂ³n’s Oscar-winning epic stars Sandra Bullock as a medical engineer. Her first space mission takes a terrifying turn after space debris destroys her shuttle, killing the rest of the crew. Gravity is both a pioneering technological achievement and a heck of a movie, following every riveting second of Stone’s battle for existence.

13. The Edge (1996)

In the adventure film “The Edge,” released in 1996, Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins play the roles of two men stranded in the Canadian wilderness after a plane disaster. They can only reach civilization and find safety if they cooperate with one another.

It’s a tried-and-true formula: two unlikeliest companions are forced to work together under the most trying conditions. They are cut off from anyone who might be able to provide assistance, and a giant bear is actively pursuing them. They have no way of communicating with anyone else. However, in addition to all of these standard survival movie elements, there is extra tension between the film’s two main characters. Charles Morse, played by Hopkins, is married to Mickey, played by Elle Macpherson, and he is sure that Mickey has been having an extramarital relationship with Robert Green, played by Baldwin.

Therefore, in the midst of a dense wildfire and the threat posed by a bear (which is a genuine concern), the guys have no choice but to confront their pasts along with the errors they’ve made in order to find a means to survive.

Despite consisting of elements characteristic of survival movies, the movie manages to be exciting and engaging because of the astute direction of Lee Tamahori and the strong performances of Hopkin and Baldwin.

14. Unbroken (2014)

Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, which came out in 2014 and was directed by Jolie, is a genuinely exceptional film that tells the story of an even more extraordinary man, Louis Zamperini.

*A brief remark to say that the book is better than the movie without a doubt; Jolie removes all of the spiritual components of the story and spoils it by presenting it as woke Hollywood garbage.

Jack O’Connell portrayed Zamperini, an American track star whose profession had been cut short when the US became embroiled in World War II. Zamperini’s real-life accomplishments inspired the character. His voyage to the Olympic Games in 1936 is depicted in the movie, as is his time spent serving as a bombardier in the army. Following the shooting down of his jet, he floated around for 47 days on a raft before being captured by the Japanese and taken to a prisoner-of-war camp. There, he was brutally beaten and subjected to other forms of torture.

There is no doubt that Unbroken is a brutal movie, but it is also an essential and ground-breaking drama about the resilience of the human spirit and the anguish of war.

In the context of a film about survival, it is tense, emotional, and extremely potent. As a piece of cinematic art, it is a gem that evokes emotion and optimism.

15. The Road (2009)

2009 saw the release of The Road, an adaptation of the novel written by renowned author Cormac McCarthy. Even though it was a leisurely and painstakingly built book with an odd setting as well as a grasp of time, its director, John Hillcoat, was able to successfully combine all of the story’s components into one of the cinema’s most profoundly moving films.

The film follows a dad, played by Viggo Mortensen, along with his son, played by Kode Smit-Mcphee, as they travel across a wasteland of a dead planet and encounter suspicious wanderers, cannibals, as well as their shared past. The film is nicely controlled and shows respect for the source material.

The unconventional telling of the story is a big part of the movie’s success. This movie is not about the apocalypse or how it began; instead, it is about a father looking to provide a better life for his son.

It is gloomy and exhilarating while being a slow burner, with some frightening sequences (and fatalities) and an unclear finale that may be incredibly hopeful or very grim, depending on how you look.

16. Alive (1993)

After the aircraft they were aboard crashed in the Andes in 1972, the Uruguayan rugby team was compelled to do the unthinkable in the film Alive, which relates the narrative of their ordeal. The film is extremely brutal and terrible. In the movie, Vincent Spano and Ethan Hawke play a pair of rugby players who were forced to go to extraordinary measures in order to survive the seventy-two days they were stranded in the Andes.

When the plane struck a mountain, it lost both its wings and its tail before falling into a slope on the side of the mountain, killing all the people on board, including the players, coaches, and family members traveling to Chile for a rugby tournament. During the collision, six passengers were murdered instantly, and another six passengers died shortly after. Because they have no food, others are dying from their injuries, and many more people are dying as a result of an avalanche. The few still alive people make the horrifying decision to eat the dead to stay alive. One of the more disturbing survival films, but it demonstrates how far people will go to protect themselves and their loved ones.

After everything was said and done and the rescuers discovered the group, there were just 16 people left alive out of the original group of 28.

17. Into the Wild (2007)

The year 2007 marked the release of Into the Wild, directed by Sean Penn. The film is adapted from Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book of the same name. The film is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsh), who, after recently graduating from college, makes the decision to give up almost all of his possessions and travel across the continent of North America.

A dramatic and highly sympathetic character study of a man who wished to live off the Alaskan land, alone in nature and detached from civilization, is depicted in the biopic, which takes place during the 1990s and is set in Alaska. The picture is calm, reserved, and continually building up to the tragedy of the young adventurer, and it has a career-best performance by Hirsh as well as some superb supporting appearances from William Hurt, Marcus Gay Harden, and Hal Holbrook (who has been nominated for an Academy Award).

Even if you have no prior knowledge of the original tale upon which the movie is based, you will still be able to sense that there is only one possible outcome, and it won’t be a happy one. In spite of this, you can’t help but become involved in the character that is being portrayed because of Hirsch’s delicate portrayal as well as Penn’s quiet directing technique.

Into the Wild is a narrative about survival in its most basic form, but it is also so much more than that. It is an attractive and insightful film with much to adore and a lot to think about after the credits have rolled.

18. All Is Lost (2013)

On paper, All Is Lost is a fairly standard drama about people trying to survive. Following a crash with a shipping container, a man (Robert Redford, who does not have a name in the film) traveling alone across an unknown sea discovers that the safety of his boat has been compromised. The man has no choice but to use all his efforts to make it through the oncoming storms and waves and make it to safety.

The end, as they say. There are a lot of movies that are comparable to it, but Robert Redford is the main reason why “All Is Lost” stands out from the crowd. The iconic actor gives a performance in the movie that is nothing less than astounding, and it is impossible to overstate how good it is. Redford is the only actor in the film, with few lines of conversation (only 51 words). Still, he is nevertheless able to competently carry the story through all of the film’s numerous emotional moments and confrontations.

J.C. Chandor directed the film, and it glides elegantly through raging storms, strong winds, and times of genuine pain; nonetheless, the man’s resilience and hope are never shaken throughout the film.

This is filmmaking at its very best; it is grand in scale yet intimate in focus; it is a one-person show that is intensely emotional and does not let up at any point.

Wrap Up!

So what’s stopping you? Grab your favorite snacks and have the perfect binge-watch night with a list of 12 movies about survival. They will take you on a ride of emotions, horror, and amazement and help you discover all the ways to survive. 

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Abdul Wahab is a Software Engineer by profession and a Tech geek by nature. Having been associated with the tech industry for the last five years, he has covered a wide range of Tech topics and produced well-researched and engaging content. You will mostly find him reviewing tech products and writing blog posts. Binge-watching tech reviews and endlessly reading tech blogs are his favorite hobbies.