Criticism, ‘Missing’ updates the techniques and surprises of ‘Searching’ in a more emotional sequel to popcorn


With the huge number of screens that accompany us on a daily basis, very few films are being made directly with them. Surely ‘Missing’ is the strangest premiere of the weekend, but also one of the most entertaining. There are few examples of this technique, although those that do exist are quite noteworthy: Nacho Vigalondo created the extremely intense ‘Open Windows’ or ‘Eliminated’ on a computer, which became a youth phenomenon with just a Skype video call. Open many possibilities for a format that has not yet hit the boom as they did the 3D or the most similar to understand it: the found footage or footage found from a video camera.

One of the spearheads to promote its commercialization would be ‘Searching’, a small but acclaimed film for less than a million dollars that collection 75 million. Faced with this critical and public success, Sony has once again relied on young debuting directors (Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick) to Sticking its sequel to the present as much as possible, both in the recording technique and in the plot that it hides.

Digital thriller made in 2023

Before considering any technical fancy, the first step is to think if it makes sense for the story. By reversing the roles from the first, now it is the daughter who is looking for the mother, so the abundant technological knowledge is much more justified (it was hardly credible that John Cho was suddenly a computer expert). June (Storm Reid) is a normal and digital native teenager with whom the main target of the film will be able to identify from minute 0 by speaking the same language. It is not easy at all to portray current events with such little distance, but the script, also written by the directors, avoids all cliché and achieves a very successful generational portrait, both in techniques and attitudes. The 5 years with respect to the original have been enough to notice a tremendous qualitative leap in the recording techniques used. The realization boasts a lot of novelty at a visual level with technical resources so detailed that the film could be the best promotion in the history of the Apple brand.

Just because it’s juvenile doesn’t mean it has to be silly or exclude the rest of the public. Both to cover a broader demographic spectrum and to facilitate the understanding of a production that we are not used to at all, the directors make ‘Missing’ easy to follow despite its multiple simultaneous tabs and, at the same time, very entertaining despite having a single frame on which zooms are made. The cinematographic language based on stories, tweets and what’s app on computers, phones and smart watches is so electric and works so well that it is very sad that it stays longer at first and forget both during the investigation. Even so, the whole film has a constant rhythm that makes it devilishly entertaining and overwhelming from beginning to end, with some very original technical innovations, such as that international security camera or the hiring of cleaning services. If ‘Missing’ had to be defined in one word, it would be vibrant.

Storm Reid in 'Missing'

Expectable turns up to magnificent resolution

What is the story that unites the amazing variety of displays featured? Storm Reid shines in all of them, presenting the most commercial version of that character, already so hers as a helpless teenager as in ‘Euphoria’ or ‘The Last of Us’. Will Smith’s girlfriend in ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, Nia Long, knows how to give weight of love to the few background shots and voice notes that the footage grants her to justify the importance of her disappearance. The partner in this search, Joaquim de Almeida, knows how to move from comedy to drama very naturally and stars in a very entertaining subplot with a nice moral and becomes the most tender character in the film. During the 110 minutes of footage, there is nothing left over from any of these characters.

With this length, you can allow yourself time to layer on the bold underlying theme that makes sense of it all. This rhythm of gradually revealing the information is very important to build a good plot that feels important. Because it is. This staggered editing and script immerses us fully in the dangers of relationships, both online and personal, and where they can end up if they don’t take care of themselves. Although all that way is more entertaining than deep, in the end we discover that the film does have a lot of heartas much for those things that have been planted from the beginning as for the constant turns that are given to it.

Nia Long in 'Missing'

Until that shocking finale, the rest of the development is more popcorn than deep with several isolated tracks. ‘Missing’ loses the novelty and impact of ‘Searching’ by excessively repeating its formulas: they are not the same twists, but the same type of surprises. You already expect the unexpected and the hidden tricks of false identities, betrayals… The base scheme is so similar that it could even be a remake rather than a sequel. Without being as original and revolutionary as its predecessor, it does follow in its wake with maximum engagement and an electric rhythm of constant addition to a very cool update of the technical means to be an accurate and not at all stereotypical time capsule of its premiere period. ‘Missing leaves less residue, but the fact that it is more commercial makes it more entertaining than ‘Searching’ and does not prevent it from becoming a terrific thriller that works like a rocket, recommended for all audiences and overcoming the usual failure of many thrillers as convoluted as this one: knowing how to finish. What a beautiful message awaits viewers at the end of this more than memorable digital adventure starting February 24 in theaters.


The best: His vibrant rhythm from minute 0 and his profound resolution.

Worst: It follows too much the ‘Searching’ formula in the mystery.

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