10 Suspenseful Crime Movies Like The Fugitive
The journey of Harrison Ford's character in The Fugitive has withstood the test of time. Since 1993, many thrillers have explored similar themes.
Released in 1993, the suspenseful action-thriller The Fugitive continues to be a hit with modern audiences. The character-centric plot may be what continues to captivate viewers almost 30 years later. Richard Kimble's quest to prove his innocence withstands the test of time, and it's a journey that has been replicated in many films since then.
The story opens with the murder of Kimble's wife. When he's accused of committing the crime, he becomes a fugitive and tries to prove his innocence. This has become a common trope in crime and mystery films and is sometimes complicated by the protagonist's unreliable memories.
10. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Like The Fugitive, The Lincoln Lawyer is a tense thriller that maintains an unsettling feeling of suspense for most of its runtime. Defense lawyer Mickey Haller is assigned a case defending a wealthy young man who has been accused of assaulting a sex worker. Though he often defends guilty people, Haller's client this time insists that he's innocent.
The Lincoln Lawyer is an engaging viewing experience even though it treads familiar ground. Like Kimble, Haller is on a quest to find out the truth, but he gets caught up in the world of crime himself - just in the way he expects to. Fans of The Fugitive may be interested in seeing a similar story play out through the eyes of the law, rather than the accused.
9. The Player (1992)
One of Robert Altman's most well-known movies, The Player is an intriguing look at Hollywood's film industry. However, this will interest fans of The Fugitive because of its mystery element.
Griffin Mill is an influential studio executive who one day receives a death threat. Though unsettling, he suspects that a rejected screenwriter is behind the message. He organizes a meeting with the writer, but things take a dark turn when Griffin ends up killing him. He then becomes a fugitive of the law, his own identity, and even the industry, which is presented with a good dose of wry cynicism.
8. The Revenant (2015)
Based on historical evidence, The Revenant follows the journey of Hugh Glass, a frontiersman in the nineteenth century, after he's attacked by a bear. Separated from his hunting crew and left for dead, he must use his skills to survive and seek out the man who betrayed him.
Just like Richard Kimble, Hugh Glass is a man on a hunt for someone who has gotten away with his crimes. Though these two films are very different in their settings, they deal with some of the same themes around guilt and innocence; both characters may not be guilty of the central crime in their stories, but they do feel remorse for not being able to stop that crime.
7. Fight Club (1999)
At first glance, Fight Club seems like a totally different story than The Fugitive, but a deeper look reveals some overlapping topics. In this action-packed thriller, the protagonist - known only as The Narrator - meets a man named Tyler Durden, who introduces him to an underground fight club. There, men gather to release their frustration at their mundane lives.
The club expands and evolves into a worldwide organization that stands for something different than its initial purpose. As The Narrator spends more time with Tyler, he becomes confused about his own identity. Identity is a key theme of The Fugitive, as even the title suggests that everything that makes Richard who he is has been stripped away. He's an accused killer, then a prisoner, then a fugitive. He must fight hard during the course of the film to regain his identity.
6. Prisoners (2013)
This crime thriller kicks off when two young girls go missing. Keller Dover is the father of one of these girls, and he begins an intense search for his daughter when he feels that the police aren't doing enough. He's in a similar position to Richard Kimble, who must investigate his wife's murder himself, as the authorities are already set on the belief that he's the killer.
2013's Prisoners is often touted as one of the best missing persons movies to watch, thanks to its skillful grip on suspense. Like Richard, Keller Dover endangers his own life when he goes searching for the truth. Another similarity between the two films can be seen in the wintry setting.
5. Memento (2000)
2000's Memento is a mystery-thriller movie with a twist. As with many of Christopher Nolan's films, this one is interested in exploring the parameters of time. Leonard Shelby is an insurance investigator with amnesia, and his last memory is of his wife's death. He's now trying to solve the mystery of who killed her, using tattoos on his body to guide him.
The premise of this film is almost the same as that of The Fugitive, but Shelby doesn't become a fugitive himself until later in the plot. Both characters are on a journey fueled by love and loss.
4. Gone Girl (2014)
In Gone Girl, the protagonist finds himself as another man trying to prove his innocence. After his wife Amy Dunne goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Ben is the prime suspect. On the surface, they appeared to have a picture-perfect marriage, but as the story unfolds, viewers begin to understand why the town is so quick to turn against Ben.
Gone Girl offers plenty of twists and turns, just like The Fugitive. Many parallels can be drawn between Ben and Richard, but otherwise, this suburban thriller is a refreshing addition to the mystery genre.
3. Primal Fear (1996)
This thrilling crime movie begins when a young altar boy is accused of murdering a priest. His lawyer Martin is convinced that he's innocent and plans to do everything he can to absolve the boy. However, as Martin begins investigating, things take an unexpected turn.
Primal Fear deals with guilt and innocence in the same way as The Fugitive, presenting a case of a wrongly convicted man trying to absolve himself of guilt. Also like The Fugitive, the film begins with the boy fleeing authorities in much the same way Richard Kimble does.
2. Zodiac (2007)
This mystery film offers a different kind of fugitive in the Zodiac killer. When a cartoonist named Robert Graysmith decides to use his puzzle-solving skills to uncover the mystery of the Zodiac killer, he finds himself buried far deeper in the case than he would have liked.
2007's Zodiac is a haunting film but is by no means short on thrills. Like Richard, Robert Graysmith is a relatively average citizen who begins an exciting but terrifying journey into an unfamiliar world. Since the film is based on a true story, many viewers may know how the film ends, but it's still a gripping thriller that holds the viewer's attention until the end.
1. Shutter Island (2010)
Teddy Daniels is a U.S. Marshall sent to a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island to investigate a missing patient. He's also a man who begins questioning his own identity and his past misdeeds. Like Richard, he doesn't have many tools to help him with his case, and he's not comforted by his colleague's strange behavior.
2010's Shutter Island is a movie that relies on its air of mystery and suspense, mostly surrounding the setting of the island itself. However, the audience's feeling of unease begins to redirect towards Teddy himself as the plot unravels. As he becomes unnerved by the island's strangeness and other characters become suspicious of him, he tries to flee. But, like Richard, he's pursued by too many authorities to outrun.
[Originally shared with ScreenRant.]
About the author
Svetlana Sterlin is a prose, poetry, and screenwriter based in Brisbane, Australia. She's the founding editor of swim meet lit mag, a contributor at Our Culture Magazine, and a reader for Split Rock Review. https://linktr.ee/svetlanasterlin