Missing (2023)

Missing (2023) Cover

Despite requiring a huge suspension of disbelief, Missing is a wild, creative, and fun virtual adventure full of thrills and (surprisingly) laughs! Nick Johnson and Will Merrick were editors on both Searching and Run, but now give us their directorial debut with Missing. Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian, co-directors of Searching and Run, are now credited for the story. While Missing may not be quite as immersive from beginning to end as Searching, it is still an extremely entertaining ride that’s different enough and specifically contains a strong attention getting first-two acts that audiences will feel compelled to see where it all ends.

June Allen (Storm Reid) is a rebellious teenager who doesn’t respect her mother. Grace (Nia Long) and her boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung) take a trip to Columbia and task June to pick them up from LAX. After being unable to locate her mom at the airport, a string of digital discoveries takes June on a virtual hunt to try and figure out how her mother and Kevin have gone missing.

Storm Reid plays a wayward teenager rather well; her facial expressions and nonchalant responses to her mother effectively got on my nerves so much that when turmoil strikes it was satisfying to see her feel anxious and squirm (that's terrible of me but it’s the truth). June is slowly redeemed throughout the unfathomable events that unravel, where she learns not to take her mother and all that she’s done for granted. As these events unfold, the audience and I begin to feel sympathy for June and begin to root that she can uncover the truth and be reunited with her mom. 

An admirable characteristic of June (and what is required for this film to work) is that she is incredibly intelligent and resourceful in regards to her technology. The most satisfying part of this film is when one digital path leads to a dead-end, seeing what June’s next move will be; it always seems like there’s something to check or utilize (which typically offers more clues). From utilizing GMail, Task Rabbit, a dating service chat history, security cameras, and more– the film immerses you by showing all the options you probably never thought to utilize should something like this ever happen to someone you love and it’s rather impressive to see how much detective work you can do with someone’s social media/e-mail accounts. 

As with Searching, Missing takes place entirely on smart phones and computer screens (and I uphold both as the best “screen perspective films” that I’ve ever seen). As a computer teacher and someone who utilizes the web and social media more than most, staring at applications for an hour and a half did not bother me, as it was rather riveting to see all that can be uncovered and learned within that time frame if I was on my devices for that amount of time. It must have also been a challenge to ensure that FaceTime or a camera application would be open so we can see our character’s emotional reactions when pivotal events occur but Nick Johnson and Will Merrick have learned well from Searching; the marvelous editing keeps the viewer engaged from the thrills and from an emotional perspective. 

Most of my gripes with the film are plot points that unfold feeling improbable (starting around the 45 minute mark) but I was incredibly invested within the characters that it was nonetheless amusing to get to the end. I recommend checking it out; it’s a breezy upbeat 90 minutes and it gives me the same anxious feelings I experience trying to get out of an escape room.

Final Verdict:Despite requiring a huge suspension of disbelief, Missing is a wild, creative, and fun virtual adventure full of thrills and (surprisingly) laughs!