“In His Shadow” (2023) is a recent crime/thriller written and directed by Marc Fouchard dealing with the lives of two brothers who are at constant odds with each other owing to significant familial crises and personal grudges. The story begins with Adama (Alassane Diong), the younger brother, recounting his family’s history as his older brother, Ibrahim (played by Kaaris), who is a local gangster, threatens his friend Malik. He narrates how his brother’s outlook on the world changed when he was born, as Ibrahim’s mother was the first wife of their father, Ousmane, and when he brought Adama’s mother into the household, tensions began to form between the two matriarchs of the family, eventually driving Ibrahim, his little sister, Aissata, and their mother out of the apartment. Adama was in a brutal car accident when he was a child, which led him to lose his eyesight at a very young age, and his mother blamed Agna (Ibrahim’s mother) for it, as she thought that Agna had bewitched him out of jealousy. As the brothers grew up, tensions grew with them, and Ibrahim’s aggression towards Adama manifested into violent altercations that finally led to some brutal deaths in the family, leaving their family broken forever. As a crime drama, the film surely checks all the boxes, featuring the rivalry between brothers, suspenseful plot construction, ferocious gang disputes, and heinous murders. If you are a crime or thriller buff, here is a list of similar movies that might allure your senses.
The Godfather (1972)
“The Godfather” (1972) is perhaps one of the most iconic films of the genre, having acquired a cult following among film lovers over the ages. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and co-written by Mario Puzo, this cult classic is based on the 1969 Puzo novel “The Godfather” and stars Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, James Caan, and Diane Keaton. It is a crime drama that revolves around the life and business dealings of the Corleone crime family of New York. Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the head of the family and a well-respected man among all the other crime families, with deep channels into the government and police force. As the business model of the other crime families shifts to dealing with drugs, Vito Corleone refuses to accept it for his family, and this leads to a series of complications for his family and, finally, an attempt on his life as well. At this point, Vito’s youngest son, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), who is an ex-Marine, is forced to take charge of the family business and eliminate all existing threats towards it.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” is another cult classic that took the big screen by storm when it was released in 1994. It is a satirical crime drama that has a non-linear narrative structure. Two of the most important aspects of the film are the punchy dialogues and the bloody violence, which embody the entire essence of the film. It is a juxtaposition of three main storylines where there are three main protagonists: Vincent Vega, Butch Coolidge, and Jules Winfield, and the introductory segment is centered upon the two hitmen, Vincent Vega and Jules Winfield, out to recover a stolen suitcase for Marsellus Wallace, a mob boss. The entire narrative is a subtle reference to the genre of crime novels and ‘pulp’ magazines that captured the market in the 1950s, with a strong combination of wit, humor, and violence propelling the director’s vision onto the big screen.
Starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, this 1995 crime thriller follows the investigation of two police detectives to apprehend a vicious serial murderer, John Doe, with clear psychopathic tendencies, who designs his ghastly murders in a Biblical fashion, as if passing ‘divine judgment’ on his victims. The killer, played by Kevin Spacey, constructs seven crime scenes based on the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ of Christian mythology, leaving both the experts and the public in horrific contemplation. Directed by David Fincher, this film is regarded as one of the best crime thrillers to have ever been produced, owing to its complex plot construction and unusual storytelling technique.
American History X (1998)
This Tony Kaye-directed film deals with the lives of two brothers from Los Angeles, California, who were involved with the white supremacist/neo-Nazi movement in America. Derek Vinyard, the older brother (played by Edward Norton), tries to prevent his younger brother, Danny, from being further brainwashed by the Neo-Nazi fanaticism rampantly rising in the area after being imprisoned for three years for murder but quickly realizes that racial ideology and hatred run deep inside young minds. The plot explores the very dark realm of racial prejudice still practiced in the modern world and the toll that it takes on the individual and society as a whole. On being released from prison, Derek realizes that his younger brother has followed in his dark footsteps, having been initiated into the D.O.C., and when he tries to convince Danny to quit the gang, a whirlwind of violence and blood sweeps across their lives, ultimately resulting in Danny’s death.
The Departed (2006)
This Martin Scorsese film is regarded as an all-time classic by movie fans all over the world. Released in 2006, “The Departed” features a star-studded cast including some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Sheen, and Mark Wahlberg, among others. Set in Boston, the film revolves around the infiltration of the Irish Mob by the Massachusetts State Police Department through a series of violent and convoluted events. Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) is a local mob boss who places a spy, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), in the police force to remain informed about their movements. The police force, on the other hand, also places an undercover sting operative, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), inside Costello’s Mob to help with their investigation into the Mob. The whole narrative centers on the race to ascertain the identity of either informant placed within each organization, which both sides engage in, resulting in a string of violent deaths and revelations.
Set in San Francisco in the 1970s, this crime/thriller directed by David Fincher is a fictionalized account of the true events that occurred during the hunt for the infamous Zodiac Killer, who terrorized the public and the authorities alike for nearly a decade and still remains unapprehended to this day. The plot begins when an unknown assailant shoots a couple of lovers in Vallejo, and exactly after a month, the San Francisco Chronicle is sent codified letters from a person who used a pseudonym, “Zodiac,” demanding that his letters, which according to him, contain his identity, should be published; otherwise, he would be motivated to kill a dozen other people. But Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist affiliated with the San Francisco Chronicle, correctly postulates that the killer’s identity cannot possibly be in those letters, but his theory isn’t accepted by the experienced Paul Avery, a crime reporter, and he is kept out of the loop of the investigation. Later on, Avery accepts Graysmith’s interpretation of the Zodiac letters, having found it useful, and almost a decade later, Graysmith begins an investigation of his own and sits for a television interview regarding his book about the Zodiac case, after which he begins receiving threatening phone calls. Graysmith finally catches up to the prime suspect in the Zodiac case, Arthur Leigh Allen, in a hardware store in Vallejo, where he worked as a sales clerk, but since there was no physical evidence available to link Allen to the crime, the investigation couldn’t see the light of day.
Dan Gilroy’s 2014 crime thriller “Nightcrawler” features Jake Gyllenhaal in the role of Louis Bloom, an eccentric ‘stringer’ videographer who collects raw footage of violent incidents that occur in the city at night. Bloom is a thief but is ambitious in life and ventures into the life of a journalist but resorts to unethical means, trying to find quick success in the profession. With a quickly acquired store-bought camera, Lou sets out at night to capture robberies, accidents, burglaries, etc. His work is based chiefly on the consumer demand, meaning the more macabre and gut-chumming the crime scene footage, the more the news stations pay for them. When faced with strong competition in his field of work, Lou keeps pushing the limits, walking the thin line between right and wrong.