Missing movie review: Five years later, this sequel to the hit and innovative mystery searching arrives and feels a little stale
In 2018, filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty made his directorial debut with Searching, in which John Cho played a father looking for his daughter who had disappeared. The entire movie was told from his perspective as he tracked down her trail from phones and the computer. Chaganty and producer Sev Ohanian are backing this ‘spiritual’ sequel which flips the narrative in Missing.
This time around, 18-year-old June (Storm Reid) is on the lookout for her mother Grace Allen (Nia Long) after she doesn’t make it home from a trip abroad with her boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung). The first film was told from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with technology, while Missing revolves around someone who is ‘chronically online’, so to speak. June is never away from her laptop or phone as she plans for a wild time away when her mother goes to Columbia
When she and Kevin fail to come back home on the due date, June gets slightly worried and slowly begins to realise that something is quite wrong. Written and directed by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, Missing follows June as she turns detective, tracking down both Kevin and Grace’s digital footprints to find out where they might have been. The savvy teenager, played effectively by Reid, uses every trick up her sleeve, along with powers of a good Google search, to crack their passwords and backtrack their path from when they left home. Instead of a physical board with evidence pinned on, June’s laptop screen is ground zero for all that she finds out about the case.
Merrick and Johnson, who also edited Searching, keep the first 30 or minutes packed with a lot of information and a lot of screens. We see FaceTime chats, camera footage from the Allen home as well as every possible way a human can exist online. It’s overwhelming and exhausting. But slowly, the story, like June, begins to unpack with every twist and turn. And of course, like every mystery, everyone is always hiding something.
June is aided by her good friend Veena (Megan Suri) and her mother’s friend Heather (Amy Landecker). She also enlists the help of a local man in Bogota named Javi (Joaquim de Almeida), who becomes her eyes and ears on the ground in the foreign country. The police and the US embassy in Columbia seem to be on another tangent altogether, as June is the one uncovering the biggest twists in the tale. Missing also gives us a backstory of a strained relationship between mother and daughter after the death of her father. The two aren’t as close as they would want and June begins to regret her earlier actions.
While the story playing out entirely on digital screens is not as innovative anymore as it was in 2018, Missing shows how much more staggering it is to be thrust into the national, and later international stage, as a person of interest online. From TikTok sleuths to Twitter hashtags, along with the intrusive media coverage, the search for Grace Allen takes apart every aspect of her being. There is a sly dig at the public’s grim fascination with true crime stories, especially when adapted and fictionalised for television
Missing also works as a cautionary tale for many, seeing as how easy it can be for anyone to hack into your online accounts, especially if they know some basic and relevant details from your life. June is easily able to hack into Kevin’s Gmail account and starts her search by digging into his past. The film also inevitably sneaks in a bit of paid promotion for the apps and products used by the characters. In two to three instances, this technology is indeed life-saving.
The gimmick of digital screens notwithstanding, Missing’s big twisty reveal is way too predictable. Like June, who spends way too much time online, the audience too has seen every twist in the book before. Including the cliched tropes of the petulant teenager, the shady boyfriend, and the mother with a secret in her past. Still, Missing manages to hold your attention with its brisk pace and the ever-present hint of the vulnerable human behind the online persona.
Disclaimer: Except the headline and synopsis, this story has been taken from the HT News Service.