‘Missing’ Is A Suspenseful Thriller Elevated By Storm Reid’s Outstanding Performance – Review
There have been significant changes in the advancement of technology and the evolution of social media since the release of Aneesh Chaganty’s screen life mystery thriller Searching. Searching follows a father whose teenage daughter’s mystery vanishes, and a conspiracy begins to unravel when he takes matters into his own hands.
Searching was heralded for its ingenuity and for being the first mainstream Hollywood film starring an Asian-American actor. There were few expectations for a sequel, especially as Chaganty returned to the thriller genre with 2020’s Run; Sony announced that a spiritual sequel, Missing, would be made. Needless to say, expectations were high, and now that the film has finally arrived, I am happy to report that it, in fact, met those high expectations.
Much like Searching, Missing starts with a brief prologue for our new characters. Set primarily in present-day Los Angeles, the story centers around June Allen (Storm Reid), a young woman on the cusp of adulthood and preparing for college. June is left on her own for the first time due to her mom, Grace (Nia Long), going on an international vacation with her boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung). After defying her mother’s orders by having a house party and being generally defiant, June heads to meet them at the airport for their return, but they never arrive. Now, this tech-savvy teen must take it upon herself to overcome international red tape to find her missing mother, thus laying the groundwork for the suspenseful journey
Since her mom is stuck thousands of miles away, June creatively uses all of the latest technology to try to find her before it’s too late. This is one of the most significant changes comparing the two films. Instead of the story focusing on a concerned parent, they flipped it to an internet-savvy Gen-Z teen, which made for an exciting subversion and allowed for unique plot developments. As June digs deeper, her digital sleuthing raises more questions than answers, and when June unravels secrets about her mom, she discovers that she never really knew her at all.
Reid’s performance throughout the film is thoroughly impressive. She has been on an upward trajectory since her big-screen debut in Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time. Reid is on-screen for the entire movie and thrives, which is a challenging task considering the film is made up entirely of screen footage. It was a brilliant idea to show how an internet-savvy young adult would go above and beyond to try to crack the mystery. Reid’s performance elevates the already tight script, and her performance truly makes you feel like you are watching a true crime documentary play out live, suspense and all. Reid continues to excel in her craft, and this film solidifies her as leading actress material. She has a bright future ahead of her as she has proven adept at playing challenging roles.
Although Long gets less screen time, she also delivers a powerful performance. Many will relate to seeing how Long’s Grace answers phone calls and leaves voicemails; her performance made the film feel that much more real. There is a running joke throughout the movie about how she tries to use Siri way too much that actually lands a surprising amount of times, mainly due to Long’s delivery.
The supporting cast of Missing is more expansive than Searching’s. Searching utilized its actors effectively, but the story essentially revolved around two actors. The cast of Missing was more vital to the overall progression of the story. Missing’s writers did a fantastic job of making every character feel fully realized and fleshed out. Leung and Joaquim de Almeida’s characters deliver impactful performances that build on the story’s suspense and drama. The film plays with expectations, and the cast’s performances are crucial in keeping up that thrill.
The story has a lot of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat while still providing heart and comedy that was somewhat unexpected. First-time directors Nick Johnson and Will Merrick, who served as editors on the first film, delivered a suspenseful thriller that captures the same storytelling and magic as the first while crafting a unique new story that stands on its own. By having the story take place across two countries, they were able to amp up the anxiety and anticipation that Searching also had. They did an excellent job executing the story from a script they also wrote.
Missing keeps audiences on the edge of their seat while exposing the audience’s assumptions and expectations by constantly subverting them with misdirects and story reveals. As far as sequels go, Missing successfully reminds the audience of what excited them about the first film and expands upon that foundation. With Reid’s brilliant lead performance and an incredible script, Missing is not to be missed (ba dum tss)! Missing makes an excellent case for why we shouldn’t dismiss January movies because the double-whammy of this and M3GAN suggests January is a sneaky good month for horror and thrillers.