A teenager who cracks her mother’s missing case faster than the FBI? Bring it on!
Directed by Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick, who’ve also co-written the script with Sev Ohanian, the 2023 thriller “Missing” follows a 18-year-old’s efforts to find her mother who fails to arrive back home from vacation. Shot in the style of 2018 film “Searching”, everything unfolds either on computers, cell phones and CCTV cameras and viewers have to keep their wits about to see what’s being typed, searched or streamed on the screen.
Storm Reid plays protagonist June, a typical 18-year-old, who immediately searches “how to host a rave on a budget”, when she finds out her widowed mother is going on an international vacation to Columbia with her new boyfriend. However, when the pair fail to return as scheduled, June becomes frantic to unravel the mystery surrounding their absence. Frustrated by the slow progress of the police investigation, June discovers a TaskRabbit-like service in Colombia, enabling her to hire a Spaniard to assist her on-site. Consequently, even their interactions take place solely online.
While the creators make it look exceedingly easy to solve complicated cases with just technology, “Missing” is quite gripping and filled with interesting twists and turns. It also manages to be an emotional mother-daughter tale, despite the minimal interactions between June and her mom Grace (Nia Long). Ken Leung plays Grace’s boyfriend, who becomes the primary suspect in the case due to his dubious past. The script also sheds interesting light on how media’s narrative on cases can impact the course of an investigation and deeply affect those connected to them.
Since the film predominantly unfolds through a technological lens, there isn’t much to critique about the cinematography. However, as this technique is no longer novel, incorporating some scenes shot in a traditional manner could have enhanced the screenplay’s overall appeal. Striking a balance between real-life action and secondary footage would have heightened the movie’s visual appeal. For instance, it seemed unnecessary for June to always have her laptop camera on, resulting in constant footage of her. Scenes set in the house or during her interactions with friends and at parties could have benefited from conventional camera work.
The pace of the film remains consistently engaging, never slowing down, and culminates in a surprising climax that will undoubtedly leave viewers with plenty to contemplate.
It’s a 7 on 10 from me. You can stream “Missing” on Netflix.