The Indian crime drama “Line of Descent” is like a less sweeping version of “The Godfather” — or a more action-packed version of the TV series “Succession.” First-time feature filmmaker Rohit Karn Batra takes a too-staid approach to his story of a Delhi mob family reeling from the death of their patriarch. But he does a fine job of exploring the dynamics of a potentially lethal sibling rivalry; and he gets an entertaining wild-card performance from American Canadian actor Brendan Fraser.
Ronit Roy plays Prithvi, the devoted son of aging crime boss Bharath Sinha (Prem Chopra), who at the end of his life regrets the legacy he’s leaving his children and grandchildren. Bharath leaves his fortune to Prithvi, who intends to go straight, drawing the ire of bad seed son Siddharth (Neeraj Kabi), who needs to keep the dirty money flowing.
Enter Fraser, playing Charu, a swaggering Alaskan arms dealer offering the Sinhas a new revenue stream. It’s impossible to overstate what Fraser brings to this movie, with his imposing frame, manic energy and slangy dialogue.
The other leads are strong too — including Abhay Deol as an undercover cop. But Batra doesn’t do enough fresh or surprising with the plot or action scenes, both of which are merely functional.
Still, there’s something to be said for drawing memorable characters, which Batra definitely does. This is less a movie about cops and crooks than a soapy melodrama about rich brothers at odds over the future of a family business that just happens to be illicit.
Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood; Lumiere Music Hall, Beverly Hills; also on VOD