Missing Movie Review: This astute Gen Z thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat
Missing has some similarities to Searching and yet it offers many seat edge thrills by effectively tying and untying the knots in the procedural
The rapidly transforming wave of cinema is embracing novelty in not just stories but is expanding the horizons of inventiveness. It is not enough that the story is fascinating anymore, the experience has to be intriguing too. It is such a pursuit that gave us Searching (2018), and the makers have come together once again to give us a standalone sequel, Missing.
Directors: Will Merrick and Nick Johnson
Cast: Storm Reid, Nia Long, Ken Leung, Joaquim De Almeida and Daniel Henny and Tim Griffin
Although placed on the same template of a screen life film that navigates through the cameras and screens of electronic devices, there is a small but significant change in Missing. This time, it is a Gen Z daughter June Allen (an effective Storm Reid), searching for her mother, Grace (Nia Long).
Initially, we see a rather excited June, who learns that her single mother is heading to Columbia for a vacation with her new boyfriend, Kevin. Now, which self-respecting teenager wouldn't use this opportunity to throw a house party? Certainly not, June, who has the time of her life, only to get completely deflated when her mother isn't back on time. The story unfolds with June, an intelligent digital wizard, intuitively sketching out plans, decoding shreds of evidence and tip-offs, and connecting with the FBI, and a friend-in-need, all virtually of course, to find her mom.
Even as the film completely traverses through the digital meshes, the writers have skillfully managed to code in the emotional quotient. June hires Javier, a Columbian local, to help trace her mother's route during her vacation. Both of them, sailing on the same boat, establish an empathic bond over time. It is nice to see Javier, who is not in touch with his son after a rough tiff, reminding June that no matter what the parent's love will always be the same for their children. Meanwhile, even when the FBI suspects her mother to be concealing her actual identity, June does not give up. She who is already reeling from the trauma of her dad's death is just not ready to lose another parent.
Having watched Searching, the similar frames of computer screens repeating in Missing feel exhaustive at times. However, the riveting edits of the vibrant scaffoldings of FaceTime, TikTok, Instagram, dating sites, and CCTV footage ensure that the monotony does not last long.
Another refreshing aspect is that the story is narrated from June's perspective. Cleverly adhering to contemporary times, Missing reflects on the relatable propensities of media lobbying, social media bustling with new theories of the case, and the idea of how with the burgeoning technology any data can be accessed at our fingertips in this digital verse. Missing also reiterates that the advancement in technology is definitely a boon to humankind.
Despite its similarities to Searching, the film offers a lot of thrilling moments by effectively tying and untying the knots in the procedural. Some neatly packed suspense elements make us overlook the predictabilities in the plotline. If the tale had been quite distinct from Searching, it would have undoubtedly been another exciting experiment. But to give credit where it's due, the filmmakers have given a prominent focus on not just the leads but the supporting roles too. Although Missing is a standalone sequel, I liked how they drew a subtle reference to Searching. While Missing adeptly spins around this tech-savvy world familiar to Gen Z, it also stands tall for gracefully showing how the older generations are adapting to this new world, one step at a time.