Missing – Film Review

Missing – Film Review
by Frank L.

Directed by Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick
Writers – Will Merrick, Nicholas D. Johnson, Sev Ohanian
Stars – Tim Griffin, Ava Zaria Lee, Nia Long

The writers of this thriller are Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohantan, who were responsible for Searching (2018) which deals with a father who makes discoveries about his daughter from her phone after she has disappeared. In Missing, it is an 18-year-old daughter June (Storm Reid) who uses the internet to make discoveries about her mother Grace (Nia Long), who has also disappeared, along with her new boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung) while on a brief vacation to Colombia.

The relationship between Grace and June is fractious as Grace worries about June being safe while June wants to be treated as a grown-up. As Grace is a working Mum they rely heavily on voice messages to communicate which of course becomes impossible if June does not empty her message box. However, the relationship is not entirely broken. Therefore June agrees to pick Grace and Kevin up at LAX on their return from Colombia but when she goes to pick them up at the allotted time they do not show. June reports her mother as missing and starts to use the internet to try to discover what might have happened.

As she searches the internet, she makes discoveries about her mother and Kevin while Grace’s disappearance becomes a matter of intense media fascination. June is skilled with technology and utilises the internet to search various sites which slowly provide more information which is both puzzling and disturbing. On a more human level, she makes contact with a private detective in Colombia called Javi (Joaquim de Almeida). They use video to communicate and a personal story develops between them. Meanwhile, the search for Grace continues and the leads go in various directions including into June’s childhood.

The film lasts just under 2 hours and there are numerous twists and turns, many of which are revealed by internet searching. June is of the generation where internet skills are as commonplace as the ability to breathe in and out. Viewers who are more mature may find June’s skill on the internet somewhat challenging and as a result find it a bit difficult to keep up. It is both fascinating and unnerving to discover what can be found on the internet if you are a skilled operator.

Much like ‘Searching‘, this is a ‘Screen Life” film, where all the events are shown on a computer, tablet or smartphone screen. This is a small-budget movie (US$7.5m) which has already grossed more than 6 times its outlay. It is fast-moving with many diversions. Reid is the principal actor and she keeps the show on the road. It is an enjoyable mystery film with a contemporary storyline which will hold your attention. The storyline and its various leads, while not transfixing, will keep you engaged. As with many films of this nature, who knows what future generations will make of it much like when we see fax or telex machines in films from the 70s and beyond. While the film will no doubt seem dated, it stands as a moment in time, as our protagonist uses all current technology offers to achieve her goal. It might prompt you to delete your cookies every once in a while or even thank heaven for GDPR!

Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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