Missing | Film Threat
Feb 14, 2023
NOW IN THEATERS! Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick make their writing and directing feature-length debut with Missing. After helping to construct a compelling missing person mystery in Searching as editors and directors of photography, they’ve crafted a tighter, more intense mystery. Johnson and Merrick’s screenplay, from a story by Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian (writers of the first film), focuses on a disaffected social media addict using the latest apps and online tools to discover the truth about her mother.
Summer vacation is in full swing, and June (Storm Reid) is occupying all her time connecting with her tight circle of friends online. But, as her mother, Grace (Nia Long), plans to spend a weekend in Colombia with her boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung), Ava intends to attend a big party that Sunday night. The party goes off without a hitch, but a hung-over June remembers at the last possible moment, she agreed to pick up her mom and Kevin from the airport. June goes into panic mode when both her mother and Kevin fail to appear at LAX.
Being a person who spends all her time on the interwebs, June relies on social networking apps and online services to aid her in hunting down the location of her mom. She soon becomes convinced her mother was kidnapped. The variety of online tools used, from surveillance camera footage to a “task rabbit” situated in Colombia, is simply staggering. Prior to the 21st century, June would likely have been stuck waiting to hear updates from FBI agent Park (the excellent Daniel Henney). Now, in the age of social media, it’s June who is providing Agent Park with leads and evidence of her mother’s past whereabouts.
“…June relies on social networking apps and online services to aid her in hunting down the location of her mom.”
Steven Holleran’s cinematography through Missing is fantastic. A series of naturalistic camera angles that are a little off-centered (Dutch or rack) in various ways notifies us we’re watching June through her computer monitor. From what I can tell, that monitor has seen some things, life events it will not ever reveal. It’s our eyes through much of this film. If it’s not the computer monitor, it’s a security camera or a cell phone watching scenes unfold on our behalf. It is all simply amazing to look at.
The acting is wonderful across the board. Everyone fits their role like a hand entering a well-fitted glove. I especially enjoyed the performances of Reid, Amy Landecker as Grace’s friend, and Joaquim de Almeida as the “task rabbit” Javi. They give lived-in performances that add to the urgency.
From a narrative standpoint, Javi proves instrumental in assisting June with her investigations. Through him, we get a street-level view and understanding of the Colombian town of Cartagena. In addition, visiting the major tourist haunts, like the bridge where lovers place locks with their initials scrawled on them, is delightful.
Missing is the second feature film involving a social network hunt for a missing person. Searching is about a father hunting for his vanished daughter; here, June is hot on the trail of her kidnapped mother. A tight, taut mystery with incredible acting, this terrific film explores how our children use social networks. It has definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities of online sleuthing, and I highly recommend this film to anyone.
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