Missing (2023): This Kinda Sorta Sequel Spinoff to Searching Cannot Compete with the Novelty of Its Counterpart

“Missing” is directed by Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick, both of whom edited the 2018 film “Searching.” This film stars Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time, 12 Years a Slave), Joaquim de Almeida (Good Morning, Babylon, 24), Ken Leung (Old, Lost), Amy Landecker (Transparent, Project Almanac), Daniel Henney (My Lovely Sam Soon, The Wheel of Time), and Nia Long (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Boyz in the Hood). This film centers around a young girl named June whose mom goes on a getaway. When June goes to the airport to pick her mom up at a time she was scheduled to arrive back from said getaway, she is nowhere to be seen. This leads June down a spiral of questions, searches, and wonders as to what happened to her mom and what she could be up to via the internet.

This film is from the editors of “Searching,” which I missed during its original release. In fact, despite having a pass to a press screening for this film, I took it almost neglecting the fact that I still have not seen “Searching.” I felt guilty. I heard good things about it and the concept itself sounded unique. Having watched the film the week of said screening, I can confirm the execution is exactly that. A good movie with a unique concept. Naturally, this made me more excited for “Missing.” I was also glad to know that this was from people who were involved with “Searching.” Part of what made that original film so watchable is its ability to multitask. “Searching” has the ability to juggle a quick pace, a wonderfully twisty narrative, and great characterization without the use of full-fledged cameras. I thought this was shockingly well done. In my best movies of 2022 list, I said “Everything Everywhere All at Once” stood out to me because of how much of a one of a kind concept it turned out to be. “Searching,” while not as great of a movie, sits in the same boat.

One of the greatest things about “Searching” was its ability to keep me interested in the story from start to finish despite the unique, perhaps gimmicky filmmaking style. “Missing” nails the start, but as we get closer to the finish, my interest levels waned. Part of it is because this film missed (no pun intended) something that “Searching” had through its full runtime. Each moment in “Searching” felt like something that could actually happen. Each conversation, every action. All of it felt real. Despite some occasionally juicy material, everything that happened came off within the definition of verisimilitude. That said, the first half sold me before we get into some shark jumping moments that ultimately reduced my enjoyment. I did not hate this movie. To say I hated “Missing” would be a hyperbole. But it is also a movie where the flaws stand out just as much as its wins.

The wins for “Missing” would be the performances. Every actor does a good job in this movie. Storm Reid carries this film from start to finish, but it does not mean the supporting roles filled by actors like Joaquim de Almeida and Nia Long were not worthy of my praise. Giving some specification on the latter, I bought the chemistry both between Nia Long and Storm Reid, in addition to Long and Ken Leung, who plays her love interest. The love Long’s character gives to both individuals, even if there is some tension between them and the protagonist, feels genuine.

If there are any other wins, I did find the film surprisingly humorous. Although between both movies, I laughed more during “Searching.” That said, like “Searching,” there were a couple moments that showcase jokes that poke fun at some of the ways we use technology or some of the things we use technology for. There were a couple laughs from me and the rest of my audience.

I loved the use of the screen technology in “Searching.” Not only because of its uniqueness, but how it was used. While “Missing” definitely does not have as many visual effects as “Avatar: The Way of Water,” there are moments where this film has a larger than life feel to it. But this is a rare case where I am using that as a negative. This is especially true in the climax. Larger than life can have numerous meanings. In this case, the meaning applies to how far-fetched the climax felt at times. While there is a moment where my crowd erupted in applause, I on the other hand remained silent because I did not believe what was happening on screen felt like it belonged in a picture like this. I have watched movies where I was able to suspend my disbelief because while I knew what was happening is not realistic in our universe, the movie’s rules made me think it could happen there.

In fact one of my negatives regarding “Missing” is how the movie attempts to connect to “Searching.” This movie just came out, therefore I am going to be as spoiler free as I possibly can, but there is a television program in the film. Not a real program, but one that exists within this film’s universe, that starts off as something that sounds legitimate within the lore. But by the end of the film, it comes off as a cheap joke. I mean that in more ways than one. The end of this film, while it has glimmers of entertainment, feels loosely strung together like a last minute project for a high school class I deemed less important than the others. It did not have the satisfying oomph the filmmakers seemed to be going for. If anything it felt out of place, abrupt, and maybe even a bit lazy. I am not asking for every aspect of “Missing” to be just like its original counterpart, but my hope was for this movie to take what was great about “Searching” and have a story that kind of stands on its own. “Missing” does both those things, but it does not make the story interesting. Before my screening started, they had a promo suggesting that this movie is full of twists and turns. That should be a good thing, right? It could have been. But it did not help that the twists and turns ranged from out of the blue to highly illogical. What do I think about “Missing?” Well, to put it short, something was missing.

In the end, while I did not despise “Missing,” it is definitely no “Searching.” I would much rather watch “Searching” a second time than pop this movie on again. I thought Storm Reid did a great job leading this movie. Her performance and character stood out. The cast is great. The concept, while a reversal of the original, lends itself to some decent ideas. I just wish they belonged in a better narrative. I am going to give “Missing” a 5/10.

“Missing” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! I know I am in the minority when it comes to this movie. The reviews for this film so far have been mostly positive from both critics and audiences. For some reason it did not work for me. But that is the beauty of film. Speaking of films, next weekend I will be watching “80 for Brady.” The brand new movie about four elderly women who will do anything to see a Tom Brady-led New England Patriots play in the Super Bowl. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Missing?” What did you think about it? Also, did you see “Searching?” Tell me your thoughts on that film as well! Leave your comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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