In The Shadow Of The Moon (2019) – Summary, Review (with Spoilers)

In the Shadow of the Moon is written more to be the start of a series than a singular movie – and it shows through its characters.

Director(s) Jim Mickle
Screenplay By Gregory Weidman, Geoff Tock
Date Released 9/27/2019
Genre(s) Sci-Fi, Crime, Thriller
Who Is This For?
  • Those Who Enjoy Low-Tech Sci-Fi
  • Films About Stopping A Dystopian Future
Where To Buy, Rent, or Stream? Netflix
Noted Cast
Tommy Boyd Holbrook
Rya Cleopatra Coleman
Amy (Child) Quincy Kirkwood
Amy (Adult) Sarah Dugdale
Brian Holt Michael C. Hall
Jeanie Rachel Keller
Harold Tadhg McMahon
Dr. Naveen (Adult) Rudi Dharmalingam
Dr. Naveen (Golden Years) Al Maini

Plot Summary/ Review

Since 1988, Tommy has spent his life dealing with, every 9 years, this short-haired, light-skinned Black woman committing a series of murders with no pattern and no notable motive. After the third time Tommy and this woman cross paths, he goes mad. He hunts her, goes full conspiracy theorist, all the while his daughter, Amy, suffers from neglect and his brother in law, Brian Holt, has to take over parenting duties.

But, in the end, was it all worth it? Was it worth Tommy losing his job as a cop? Is the search for this woman worth chipping away at the relationship he could have had with his daughter? Most of all, there is a need to question what makes this one killer special in a city where there are more than enough murders in a day, a week, to preoccupy a person’s time? Well, you’ll need to watch to understand or continue on (spoilers below).



Rya (Cleopatra Coleman) with a gun pointed at her.
Rya (Cleopatra Coleman)

The one character who has charisma, a purpose you can attach yourself to, and who lights up the screen is Coleman’s Rya. There is just something about her which goes beyond the overused adjectives “Badass” that makes you, by the film’s end, believe in her journey. Maybe it is because you can foresee the war she is trying to prevent, since it is a real thing which could happen in the near future, in terms of people like Harold rising up.

If not, as many times in history, a Black woman bettering, if not saving, the world, but this time getting credit.

On The Fence

The Family Aspect

Tommy being an absent father to Amy should hit harder than it does. Especially considering the events around what happens to Jeanie. Yet, him being a dad doesn’t really have any importance until the end of the movie. You can see the goal was to make it where you’d understand how much he is sacrificing for the truth, and revenge. Yet, being that Amy, even when 9, isn’t someone you get attached to, it makes Amy becoming an afterthought for Tommy something which may mirror your own feelings.

Tommy & His Investigation

Tommy’s search for the truth really is not that exciting. Unless he is facing off against Rya, Holbrook doesn’t really command the scene. Not to the point this nearly 2-hour movie will feel like hell, but it does drag a bit. Specifically watching him try to understand Rya and piece together if she and Dr. Rao are connected.

You’ll Wish You Saw More Of The Events That Led To Rya’s Mission

With things so dry in the past, it makes you wish you got to see this future Rya wanted to prevent more. For, in the film, all we see is a building in 2024 Philadelphia that was clearly in the blast radius of a bomb. That and a high tech lab. Outside of that, the future trying to be prevented is strictly talked about and solely made interesting by Coleman’s voice over.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

Rya (Cleopatra Coleman) with her hands up.
Rya (Cleopatra Coleman)

While you have to appreciate the story of In The Shadow Of The Moon, and how much it represents a new future dystopia, it misses the amount of characters it needs to truly connect with you. For while Coleman is wonderful, and represents the powerful statement of Black women saving the world, people of color in general, considering who backs her, the rest of the cast falls flat. Or, to put a more positive spin on it, their characters are written more so for a TV show, in which they can grow on us, than fitting the demands of movies which require them to be instantly captivating.


 [ninja_tables id=”24271″]

In The Shadow Of The Moon Ending Explained

Harold (Tadhg McMahon) writing the newsletter which would inspire a civil war.
Harold (Tadhg McMahon)

In the year 2024, Harold has elicited enough support from his followers to attempt to overthrow the United States government. It begins with a bombing and evolves into an outright civil war. One that Tommy, of the future, trains his granddaughter, Rya, to help prevent, in conjunction with Dr. Naveen, who has figured out a way for people to time travel.

However, future Tommy doesn’t give Rya any means to convince past Tommy to not get in the way, and when Rya tries to explain she knows Tommy, of the past, it only makes him more suspicious. Hence him hunting her down for years, alongside her accidentally killing Maddox. But, despite Tommy’s efforts, Rya seems to get her mission done and the first bombing of Harold’s group is undone. For, you see, the idea when it comes to Dr. Naveen and Rya is not just killing the leader, but the idea.

Which, when you think about it, the technology could have been used the other way and have led to the death of many civil rights movements instead of the destruction of alt-right movements. But that’s another movie’s story.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Where in the world did Rya’s dad come from when we saw Amy dating a white guy?

Is A Sequel Possible?

Technically, yes. What Rya did only changed their worldline and considering Dr. Naveen is old, and will eventually have a successor, what is stopping someone from putting back the original timeline in place? All they need is access, and an understanding, to the technology. For while they may have killed what spawned Harold’s idea, overthrowing the government and feeling disenfranchised isn’t a unique thought. Others are sure to pop up and be as devastating, if not more if they are more educated than Harold seemed.

 [ninja_tables id=”24271″]

Rya - 90%
The Family Aspect - 70%
Tommy & His Investigation - 71%
You’ll Wish You Saw More Of The Events That Led To Rya’s Mission - 75%


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