‘MISSING’ is a techno-thriller reminiscent of “Searching”, which is told on screen through computer and cellphone screens. “Searching” is about a dad looking for his missing daughter. In “Missing”, it’s the daughter who’s looking for her missing mother.
The directorial debut of Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, who also wrote the script, the movie starts with a video footage showing the lead character, June, at 6 years old, with her dad, James, who died of a brain tumor.
Now, 12 years have passed and June (Storm Reid) is rebelling from doting mother, June (Nia Long), whose calls on her cellphone she just ignores. They’re black but her mom’s new boyfriend is Chinese, Kevin (Ken Leung), so it’s an interracial romance.
Her mom leaves with Kevin for a vacation in Colombia. June is supposed to pick them up at the Los Angeles airport a week later but they’re a no show. She reports it to the cops but the FBI officer in the American consulate is clueless so June decides to make her own personal investigation via the internet.
He hires a Colombian guy, Javier (Joaquim de Almeida), to the legwork for her in Cartagena, where her mom went. She gets to hack Kevin’s email account and finds out that he has a criminal record and has deceived a lot of other women for their money.
She investigates further, accessing her own mom’s record and learning that her mom knows about Kevin’s shady past. June suspects that Kevin has kidnapped her mom and is hiding her somewhere.
Later on, she sees a video footage of some thugs kidnapping Kevin and her mom in Colombia. As they say, the plot thickens, but don’t jump into any conclusions. The case of Grace missing and being kidnapped hits international headlines.
Of course, the attraction here is that the storytelling is told entirely through computer, cellphone screens and CCTV cameras. The gimmick works for a while but the fact remains that it’s no longer that innovative or original, as it has already been used in “Searching”, whose narrative was also more seamless.
But still, it’s a fairly watchable thriller as it manages to keep us guessing, except towards the final act when why and how Grace was kidnapped involved too many revelations. The twists and turns in the plotting proved to be quite mind-boggling and the surprises go off the rails, making the plotting quite unconvincing with many questions left unanswered. Also, the role of Kevin should have been given to a better looking guy, like Daniel Henney, the Asian actor who played the FBI agent investigating the cast. Ken Leung just doesn’t look like a guy who’d be attractive to the many he girls he has duped.
In the end, the tribulations they went through taught June to be more considerate of her mother. When her mom tells her that she loves her, June now responds to say she loves her, too. And what they experienced has even been adapted in a TV show featuring true crime stories entitled “Unfiction”.
Storm Reid, who has played important roles in films like ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and ‘The Invisible Man’, is totally competent as June, a role that requires her face to always be on the screen. She has good rapport with Portuguese actor Joaquim de Almeida (“Fast X”) even if they play characters that are thousands of miles away from each other.
The movie also tells us to be more careful of what we put in our online records because it seems that everything is now so easy to hack or trace in the internet. The film practically offers us a free course on cyberstalking or how to do online tracing and detective work. It also warns us to come up with more unique passwords for our accounts that would be more difficult to decipher for online intruders.