Directed by: Nicholas D. Johnson, Will Merrick
Written by: Will Merrick (screenplay by), Nicholas D. Johnson (screenplay by), Sev Ohanian (story by), Aneesh Chaganty (story by)
Starring: Storm Reid, Nia Long, Joaquim de Almeida, Megan Suri, Ken Leung, Daniel Henney
Synopsis (IMDb): After her mother goes missing, a young woman tries to find her from home, using tools available to her online.
Missing is the sequel to the 2018 film Searching, which brought audiences a new type of thriller–one that takes place completely on the internet. Watching drama unfold through various computer screens and apps sounds like it wouldn’t be riveting, but the film was an instant hit and revived people’s interest in voyeuristic thrillers.
Enter Missing as the follow-up, and for much of the film, fans will probably be happy with how the second film tries to up the ante on Searching‘s formula. The internet and pop culture in general has become even more fast-paced in the four years since John Cho’s character David Kim was looking for his missing daughter, and Missing shows just how much society has leaned into using personal tragedy as entertainment in the form of true crime media. The film starts out with a true crime re-enactment series from Netflix (because of course–if you’ve seen Netflix’s offerings, a good chunk of it is true crime docuseries or docuseries based on salacious topics). This sets the tone, not only for how the film will lay out the drama going forward, but also for how this story ties into the broader Searching universe.
Apart from new additions like Netflix series and WhatsApp, Missing follows a similar plotline to Searching–whereas in the original, a father was searching for his daughter, this time a daughter, June, (Storm Reid) is searching for her mother who disappears after going on vacation with her boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung). The thrilling turns sprawl out from there.
Where the film succeeds is continuing the franchise’s penchant for unexpected twists and turns. There’s so much that I will not spoil here, but if you’ve seen the trailer and worried that the trailer is giving the movie away, don’t–the trailer is only covering the surface. Fans of the franchise will love Missing for its creativity, its use of social media and the internet in general, and for its overarching commentary on how “chronically online” we all are, to the point that we can identify tools in our pockets that can help us, at the very least, locate where someone is.
Where the film might show its seams is, unfortunately, in the film’s conceit itself. Searching was the pioneer of this type of found footage thriller, so audiences didn’t have anything to compare the type of film to, so any of the less-than-plausible parts probably flew under the radar. Even though 2018 was four years ago, we have become even more internet-savvy since then. Some of those seams that might have been evident in Searching but looked over are nearing flagrant-levels in Missing.
While the internet might provide us with even more surveillance than ever before, we do still have detectives and special training for a reason–not everyone is a hacker and can find the breadcrumbs to solve crimes, even crimes involving their own families. Just because we have access to everyone in the world doesn’t mean that we are supposed to have access to every video feed on the planet. And also, some plotholes exist within Missing, plotholes I can’t discuss because it would reveal spoilers. But the holes raise some questions about how things play out the way they do.
As far as representation goes, the film showcases Reid and Long fairly well, and Leung and Daniel Henney, who plays Agent Park, the FBI agent who get assigned to the case, are also able to showcase their talent, but in varying degrees. Leung gives a fun performance of an everyday guy (one with secrets, though), but Henney doesn’t get to do much–a lot of his work is off-camera, and when he is on camera, it is very limited. With what June is able to accomplish alone, it eventually becomes a question of why Henney’s character is even necessary.
With that said, viewers will be taken on a ride with Missing and will enjoy themselves overall. The plotholes will linger for fans who really hone in on these types of things, but if you can overlook some of the incredulity of some of the moments in the film, most audiences will consider this another solid film in the Searching franchise.