Reviewed by GREG KING

Directors: Will Merrick, Nicholas D Johnson

Stars: Storm Reid, Nia Long, Ken Leung, Joaquim De Almeida, Tim Griffin, Daniel Henney, Amy Landecker, Megan Suri, Tracy Vilar.

Not to be confused with the 1982 thriller of the same name that starred Jack Lemmon as a man desperately searching for his son in Chile following a military coup, Missing is a tense, engaging and elaborate thriller that plays out via computer screens and websites. A sequel of sorts to 2018’s Searching, in which Jon Cho tried to find his missing daughter online, this thriller is aimed squarely at those Gen Z’ers who live out their lives on social media and their mobile phones, and it pretty much follows a similar format and formula.  

Grace (Nia Long, from tv series NCIS: Los Angeles, etc) is about to head off on a week long holiday in Cartagena in Colombia with her new boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung, from Lost, etc), a real estate agent she met through an on-line dating app. An overprotective mother, she leaves a long list of instructions for her 18-year-old daughter June (Storm Reid, from A Wrinkle In Time, etc) to follow. She even arranges for Heather (Amy Landecker, from tv series Transparent, etc), the family’s lawyer and friend, to check in on her. June however cannot wait for Grace to leave so that she can arrange to have her best friend Veena (Megan Suri) and friends over for a party.  

Grace checks in via Face Time chats regularly, but then one day she stops responding and even text messages go unanswered. On the day that Grace and Kevin are due back, June waits at the airport to pick her up. But Grace doesn’t show up. June begins to worry. June contacts the FBI but is informed that they can’t do much as they don’t have jurisdiction in Colombia. 

However June is not giving up that easily. Having spent most of her time online she uses her computer savvy and uses her knowledge of the on-line world to search for clues for what happened to her mother. She contacts the hotel where Grace was supposed to be staying but is confused when informed that they are not there, although their luggage is. Through Heather’s contacts June manages to speak to Agent Park (Daniel Henney, from Criminal Minds, etc) an FBI agent who initiates inquiries.  

June even uses her computer skills to crack passwords and hack into security cameras and troll the web for clues as to Kevin’s identity. She even manages to use an on-line service to hire Javi (Joaquim de Almeida, from Fast Five, etc) an odd jobs person and convinces him to investigate in Columbia. There is a nice buildup of suspense and suspicions as June races to learn answers. She discovers lots of secrets about her mother and it seems as though Grace’s own past is the key to solving this mystery. 

Missing has been written by Aneesh Chaganty (who directed Searching) and Sev Ohanian and Will Merrick and Nicholas D Johnson. Merrick and Johnson were responsible for editing Searching, so they are familiar with the material. The pair make their feature film directorial debuts here, and they exploit many of the tropes and themes of that earlier movie. But here they cleverly invert the roles, and it is the daughter who is looking for a missing parent using their on-line skills. Much of it plays out seemingly in real time, which lends an urgency and immediacy to the material. But Missing also explores the increasingly pervasive nature of electronic surveillance in the digital age, and it also taps into our fascination with true crime stories. 

Reid does most of the heavy lifting here as she carries the film. She is good as the resourceful June, and her performance is full of angst, determination and resilience. Portuguese actor De Alameida brings warmth and gravitas to his role. And Leung makes the most of his enigmatic character, bringing subtle hints that there is more to his character beneath his charming surface. 

As with Searching this is a visually arresting and fast paced thriller that adds an intriguing twist to the found footage formula. It is an interesting approach to the mystery genre, but audiences need to be able to read pretty quickly in order to keep up with the fast flow of cyber information that flies past our eyes. The material has been sharply edited by Austin Keeling and Arielle Zakowski.  

Missing is a tense and suspenseful thriller for the most part, but the film is a little too long for its premise and it starts to fall apart in the final act. There are a couple of twists too many at the end that stretch credibility.  

This is a competently directed thriller but it is to be hoped that Merrick and Johnson adopt a more traditional approach and narrative style for their next thriller. 


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