REVIEW: ‘Missing’ manages to keep audiences glued to the (fictional) screen

It can be hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice. Yet “Missing,” while not as strong as its predecessor “Searching,” manages to be another fun screen-based mystery.

The movie is connected to the previous installment by only a small reference at the start. In this picture, the focus is on June (Storm Reid), a young woman who lives with her mother Grace (Nia Long). The movie picks up with Grace about to leave on a vacation with her new boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung) while June stays home.

Left alone while her mom is away, June does some partying before Grace is set to get back. However, on the date Grace’s plane is to arrive, she’s nowhere to be found and there’s not much information as to why. Sensing something is wrong, June begins researching what happened to her mother on her computer, and begins unraveling dangerous secrets.

There’s something addictive about researching things online. You come across a subject and go down a rabbit hole of Wikipedia articles, Youtube videos and even check what people are saying about it on social media. That’s something “Searching” tapped into, and “Missing” does it too. 

It’s a premise that plays on a person’s need to know, and the rabbit hole in this case is a mystery with plenty of interesting developments to keep a viewer continuously intrigued. Like “Searching,” this film also features a snappy pace and an intense race-against-the-clock atmosphere that keeps one engaged.

It’s also noteworthy that the film flipped the script from its predecessor, making the protagonist the child looking for their parent. It gives the hero a different set of circumstances, whereas in “Searching,” the father had more resources and was more trusted by professionals, while this time around, June is of course much less prepared to deal with the circumstances.

Courtesy Sony Pictures

With that said, “Missing” also presents an overall story that’s not as good as what was delivered in “Searching.” While the movie never becomes boring, it does get a bit too far fetched as it goes on. As more gets revealed about what’s happening, the whole mystery at play can feel overly elaborate and convoluted.

There’s enough to keep a person guessing, sure. Red herrings and surprising details are present to help keep up the suspense. But it also starts to push a bit too hard on the suspension of disbelief with how intricate the situation is.

As a plus, though, the film is a well crafted “screen” movie. There’s often a lot happening on June’s computer, with multiple apps open and her bouncing from one to another in a sort of controlled chaos. Directors Nicholas Johnson and Will Merrick, who make their feature film debut, both have a good amount of experience as editors and it shows.

Reid, who’s experience comes from supporting roles, is certainly up to the task of the lead role in the picture. She captures that anxiety a person can have when they can’t rely on their parents for help, and that anxiety is obviously dialed up because the parent is the one in trouble. It’s also true that this movie is almost entirely focused on her, which means she needed to bring a lot of personality to the role, and she did just that.

“Missing” is another pretty good mystery that holds a viewer’s attention from start to finish, even if things get a bit dicey with the story in the second half. It once again uses its screen concept well and features a fine performance at its center. 3.5 out of 5


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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