9 Incredibly Profound Movies Like 'The Shawshank Redemption' That'll Make You Think

Updated on June 22, 2020
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Rahul is a movie addict who can never get enough of good films. His all time favorites are Inception, 12 Angry Men, and Scarface.

What Films Are Like The Shawshank Redemption?

It’s surprising how The Shawshank Redemption has stood the test of time, and is still relevant in today’s movie landscape, even after over 20 years since its release. Based on a novel of the same name, The Shawshank Redemption is a bit of a catch-all, blending nail-biting action, drama, and love to construct a profound masterpiece - one that will be revered for quite some time

It’s hard to find anything wrong with this movie, except for its exceptionally long run time. However, one could argue that the whole dynamics fits perfectly into the frame only because of over two hours of runtime. Any shorter and this feature wouldn’t have felt as poetic and mesmerizing. Since you’re here, you presumably already know the whole history.

Let’s rather get to the business. I have got you covered with some movies like The Shawshank Redemption that’ll make you think.

Movies Similar to The Shawshank Redemption

  1. Memento
  2. The Prestige
  3. The Mist
  4. Pulp Fiction
  5. Saving Private Ryan
  6. The Departed
  7. Forrest Gump
  8. The Truman Show
  9. Donnie Darko

1. Memento

Starring Guy Pearce as a man suffering from short-term memory loss, Memento is a mind-numbing spectacle. It’s demanding and, at times, coy with spilling the details. The whole movie might seem like a futile exercise of mind when you try to wrap your mind around its ostensibly disoriented storyline. Stick to it, however, and a poor chap‘s search for his missing wife becomes an enigmatic ride, punctuated with betrayal, violence, and treachery.

Emerging from this complicated puzzle is a haunting twist that will surely pull the rugs from under you. An intricately woven plot is told in a way that you feel as if you’re the one suffering from a short-term memory loss. Since you’ll see movie’s last moments at the beginning and vice versa, you’ll be as disoriented as Peirce’s dogged character, fumbling your way to the dreadful truth.

The very fact that Nolan, being as young as he was in 2006, pulled something as ambitious as that, cemented his place as one of the best writers and directors of all time. In an industry with legends Like David Fincher and Tarantino, this is quite a big achievement.

2. The Prestige

Multiple entries of Nolan’s movies might make me seem like his ardent fan, but I don’t mind it. His films permeate with off-the-rails originality, so they will find a place in many of my lists.

The story in The Prestige takes place in the 16th century where two of the world’s biggest magicians engage in all sorts of scheming, manipulating, and backstabbing in their quest to be the best in the business. Their recklessness, however, only leads to mayhem and carnage as these two collide in a no-holds-barred war.

This movie unfolds like a Chinese Puzzle, with random pieces scattered all over the film. Since it doesn’t move chronologically, you have to piece together everything. Watch it once, and then repeat. It’s like witnessing a different story unfold.

3. The Mist

When a mysterious fog engulfs over a small town, some people take an aggressive approach, dealing head-on with the sinister creatures coming out of the unholy fog. Others, however, presume it to be the ominous sign of the end of the world. Both groups take some rash decisions, leading to more turmoil and chaos. In a town crammed with ungodly creatures, where will they go to find a safe haven?

The scares are haunting, not because of the scornful giant monsters, but because of the painstakingly laid groundwork before the action. Even before the monsters come out of the fog, the tension and dread already build up to a tipping point. There are monsters galore, especially at the end, but they don’t often come out of the fog.

Combine this dire scenario with a bunch of trigger-happy fanatics, and nothing good can ever come out of the precarious situation. More often than not, this Frank Darabont's directed feature will compel you to conjure up demons in your own head, without showing any of it on screen.

The Mist starts slowly, but all its disparate elements converge into a nightmarish ending - one that’ll stay with you for a long time.

4. Pulp Fiction

Where do I even start with this movie? It’s hard to pigeonhole this feature into a particular genre, for it’s an amalgamation of a myriad of genres, including romance, thriller, and suspense, just to name a few. Every step of the way, Pulp Fiction exudes inexplicable brilliance and brash flamboyance.

The multi-layered story of all the shabby people who inhibit Pulp Fiction’s world is too non-linear and convoluted to inscribe in words. I could make an attempt, but then I would only be jotting down the story in chronological order.

In micro-sense, it’s a collection of disparate adrenaline-fueled events, loosely weaved together to construct a meaningful story. When you look at the whole package in a macro sense, everything fits just perfect. A few years from now, you might not recall anything, but you’ll definitely remember Pulp Fiction as one hell of a ride. It pulls you in its slippery world and gets you high like a meth addict.

Thanks to some astute writing and incredible performances from John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction stays on course of self-combustion - one that’ll shock and mesmerize you at the same time.

5. Saving Private Ryan

Taking place during the Normandy invasion of World War II, the story spins around eight marines tasked with saving the life of an ordinary soldier. As they sneak into the enemy’s camp (Germans), they wonder why they’re risking their lives for a single man when thousands of men are dying every day.

‘I don’t care about this Ryan guy. He’s just a name to me,’ mutters one marine in despairing infuriation. As they reluctantly engage in this ostensibly suicidal mission, the soldiers realize that saving him might be the only decent thing they can pull off in this grisly war.

From the movie’s opening sequence till its very last moments, Saving Private Ryan depicts some of the cruelest grim realities of war, resisting the temptation to glorify it - something that can’t be said for a lot of war movies. Even in its most intense action sequences, including one where a soldier‘s arm is blown off and he stands in shock and disbelief, it stays philosophical and almost meditative.

6. The Departed

Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Departed follows stories of an undercover agent and a spy on each other’s trail, as they try to outmaneuver and expose each other. As they have infiltrated the highest ranks in each other’s organizations, exposing each other will not be easy, for either of them. With the clock ticking down, they must maintain the ruse while uncovering the identity of their foe.

This star-studded movie starts off with a bang without wasting much time with introductions. With top billed casts like DiCaprio and Matt Bill, it was a hit with the audiences in The Box Office. Years after its release, this bleak feature is still making noises. This taut pic is cruelly dark, especially near its end where the tension between both parties reaches the point of no return.

Despite all the bobbing and weaving for over two and a half hours, transitioning through various subplots, the overarching story stays intact, mostly because of a neatly woven storyline. If you’re looking for some movies like The Shawshank Redemption, The Departed should be right up your alley.

7. Forrest Gump

This Robert Zemeckis directed feature stars Tom Hanks as a half-wit with a measly IQ of 75, but he might just be the wisest man you’ll ever see. Though it runs for almost two and a half hours, time whizzes through in a blink of an eye, thanks to a rich story steeped in romance, action, and heart-wrenching drama.

Gump is not your everyday imbecile. He might be lacking in intelligence, but more than makes up for it with his unique off-the-charts talents.

As our titular protagonist narrates his past 30 eventful years of life, where he championed almost everything he partook in (U.S. marine, ping-pong player, just to name a few), it somehow strikes a chord with the heart, despite being a little far-fetched and contrived.

It’s hard to watch this movie with a poker face. Prepare to cry, sob, smile, and laugh out loud as you experience this catch-all. However, not everything is perfect. Forrest Gump stumbles at its romance junctions where an otherwise rollercoaster journey halts too often. Other than that, there’s not much to complain about.

8. The Truman Show

What will you do if the nature of your reality came breaking down suddenly and you found out that what you believed in for years isn’t true, including your identity?

The Truman Show is a movie about a man who suspects there’s something peculiar about the world he’s living in. He wants to go on a voyage, but the innate fear of going deep in the sea waters keeps him stranded on this mysterious island - a place where everyone acts a little too phony for his comfort. When he discovers the truth about his reality, everything spirals out of control.

On the exterior, The Truman Show is a satirical dramedy, but lying beneath its overt light-heartedness is a mockery of our current obsession with virtual entertainment. Our reliance on technology for cheap thrills has reached a scornful level, and nothing highlights this phenomenon better than this crisp feature.

9. Donnie Darko

We experience this time-warping story through the skeptic lenses of a troubled teenager who sleepwalks and hallucinates of a masked figure. The story follows his adventures and darings as he single-handedly attempts to save the world. There’s not a lot of time left before everything reduces to ash, at least that’s what the masked figure tells him in his vivid dreams. As tension wracks up, he grows increasingly paranoid and takes aberrant action, descending further down the path of chaos.

Donnie Darko can be a frustrating experience, particularly because it’s unduly opaque. Our titular protagonist frenziedly skulks around, desperately trying to find a way out of his hallucinations, only to get further pulled in. You might feel like giving up, but I urge you to be patient.

Just like The Shawshank Redemption, It’s a slow-burn with a twist waiting for you, albeit not as heart-warming as the former.

Prison Break - A TV show (Bonus Entry)

Just like The Shawshank Redemption, Prison Break's resonating story will keep you on your toes all the way through. The story revolves around Michael, a dogged genius, with a mission to save his older brother from a certain death sentence. With the clock ticking, Micheal resorts to desperate measures to land himself into the same jail where Lincoln, his older brother, is holed up. And then the ordeal for these two brothers begins.

In the same vein to The Shawshank Redemption, some of the stories take place inside the prison, delving deep into the nitty-gritty of the ugly facet of humanity. When the story finally shifts outside, the adrenaline-fueled action is blended with one if the most poignant tale ever narrated in a show.

Its whimsical stories often feel far-fetched, and the showrunners know it. Prison Break revels in its weirdness and over-the-top storylines. Packed with romance, drama, violence, and suspense, Prison Break is a must-watch for fans of The Shawshank Redemption.

Even after my best efforts to collate a list of every movie like The Shawshank Redemption, deep down I know it's not quite possible, at least not by a single person. If you think I have missed out on any other worthy movies, let me know in the comments section, and I'll gladly take a look into it. If your suggested features tick all the boxes, they'll find a suitable place in this list.


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