‘Stronger’ is a drama film that revolves around Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), who works at a deli in Boston. Jeff leads a pretty mundane life, with work and his mother taking up most of his time. But all of that changes when Jeff rekindles his romance with Erin (Tatiana Maslany), who sees his potential and wants him to do better in life. Soon afterward, in order to impress his girlfriend, Jeff collects donation money for the hospital Erin works at and waits for her at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when a bomb goes off near Jeff and he ends up losing both his legs.
Directed by David Gordon Green, the 2017 biographical film is based on the true-life account of Jeff Bauman, who was caught up in the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. His inspiring journey as he deals with PTSD and learns to walk again through prosthetics will surely speak to the viewer’s hearts. If this is the type of film that you would enjoy watching, then we have a few more suggestions just like it for you. You can watch most of these movies similar to ‘Stronger’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
8. Breaking (2022)
‘Breaking’ follows former Lance Corporal Brian Easley (John Boyega), who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before being dishonourably discharged. Once back home, Easly struggles financially, heavily reliant on a monthly check of $892 that he receives from the Department of Veteran Affairs. But when the check suddenly stops coming, Easly goes to one of the Veteran Affairs’ offices and complains, but to no avail. Dependent on the check for his day-to-day needs as well as that of his family, Easley takes matters into his own hands and takes hostage two bank workers at a Wells Fargo branch, and tries to draw attention to his plight.
Directed by Abi Damaris Corbin, the film is based on a news article titled ‘They didn’t have to kill him’: The death of Lance Corporal Brian Easley’ by Aaron Gell, which is based on the true life account of Brian Easley – much like the story of ‘Stronger.’ Also quite similarly to Jeff, Brian struggles with mental health and PTSD as well.
7. Music Within (2007)
‘Music Within,’ directed by Steven Sawalich, centers around Richard Pimentel (Ron Livingston), a Vietnam War veteran who lost the majority of his hearing due to a bomb explosion quite close to him. Once back in the United State, Richard enrols into the Portland State University, where he befriends Art Honeyman (Michael Sheen), a writer and poet with cerebral palsy.
When an incident force both of them out of a diner because the staff there is worried that Art would put off the other customers, Richard embarks on a journey to have the rights of persons with disabilities recognized through his phenomenal public speaking skills. Much like ‘Stronger,’ ‘Music Within’ is also based on a true life account and sees the protagonist succeeding in life – as well as inspire others – while overcoming the limitations of their disability.
6. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Directed by Oliver Stone and based on the life of Ron Kovic (portrayed by Tom Cruise in the film), a Vietnam War veteran who is paralyzed from the waist down due to an injury during the war. When Kovic is sent back home to receive treatment for his injuries, he faces a harrowing couple of months in an ill-fitted veteran’s hospital, as well as growing resentment towards the war from his fellow Americans.
However, as life throws more obstacles in front of him rather than the glory he envisioned when he was shipped off, Kovic becomes more and more disillusioned by the war himself. ‘Born on the Fourth of July,’ much like ‘Stronger,’ deals with themes like mental health and fame. Both Ron and Jeff lose the use of their legs in a violent attack as well.
5. Patriots Day (2016)
Based on the book Boston Strong by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge, the film revolves around Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), and the Boston Police Department’s efforts to catch and apprehend brothers Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) and Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze), who are responsible for the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings.
The film, directed by Peter Berg, depicts the aftermath of the bombings, its consequences on the victims of the blast, and the police’s swift response, as well as the public’s reactiveness in catching the culprits. Much like ‘Stronger,’ ‘Patriots Day’ is also a true-life account surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombings.
4. Coming Home (1978)
Set during the Vietnam War in 1968, the film follows Sally Hyde (Jane Fonda), a military wife who is married to Captain Bob Hyde (Bruce Dern) of the United States Marine Corps. When Bob is deployed to Vietnam, Sally takes the time away from her husband to improve her own life, which is often spent near one military base or the other. She finds an apartment for herself and even starts working at a VA hospital, tending to patients with severe mental and emotional stress.
There, Sally meets a classmate from high school, Luke Martin (Jon Voight), who is recuperating after the use of his legs in the war, and a romance starts to blossom between the two of them. ‘Coming Home,’ directed by Hal Ashby, features a romantic relationship that becomes the driving force towards rehabilitation for Luke, much like it did for Jeff in ‘Stronger.’
3. Flight 93 (2006)
‘Flight 93’ chronicles the events that transpired on September 11, 2001, for the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, bound from Newark to San Francisco, California. Piloted by First Officer LeRoy Homer Jr. (Biski Gugush), terrorists hijack the plane 45 minutes after take-off, keeping everybody on board subdued by threatening them with a bomb.
Once the passengers learn of the attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, they decide to take matters into their own hands and thwart the terrorist’s plans. Directed by Nevin Schreiner, the film revolves around a real-life tragic terrorist attack that was resolved through the bravery of ordinary citizens, much like ‘Stronger.’
2. Johnny Got His Gun (1971)
Based on the eponymous 1939 anti-war novel written by Dalton Trumbo, who also acted as the director for the film, ‘Johnny Got His Gun’ tells the story of Joe Bonham (Timothy Bottoms), a soldier during World War I. Waking up in a hospital, Bonham is shocked to find that he has lost all of his limbs, along with his eyes, mouth, nose and ears – rendering him unable to perceive the world and incapable of doing anything on his own for the rest of his life.
Distraught, Bonham speaks to the doctors and nurses in Morse code to euthanize him, but to no avail. Much like Jeff in ‘Stronger,’ Joe’s inability to do anything except lie down is taken away from him, and his struggle to even exist, given his physical condition and PTSD, becomes the central theme of the film.
1. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Three World War II veterans – USAAF bombardier Captain Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), U.S. Navy petty officer Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), and U.S. Army sergeant Al Stephenson (Fredric March) – return back home to Boone City with their own injuries and trauma to show for it. Homer has lost both his hands, Al, weighed down by the horrors of war, turns to drinking, and Fred is so paralyzed by his PTSD that he’s unable to secure a stable job other than an extremely low paying one at a drugstore.
In ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’, directed by William Wyler, Each of the men have difficulty adjusting back to civilian life again, and each of their problems are echoed in Jeff in ‘Stronger’ – losing both his legs, his PTSD flashbacks, and his struggle with alcoholism.
Read More: Where Was Stronger Filmed?