By John Mulderig
(OSV News) — In the 2018 thriller “Searching,” John Cho played a doting father whose assumption that he knew everything he needed to about his teen daughter was belied when the lass, portrayed by Michelle La, disappeared leaving few clues in her wake. The film relied heavily on the divide between the adolescent’s visible pursuits and her hidden life online.
Now, the scriptwriters of “Searching,” Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chaganty, have collaborated on a story that, while independent of the earlier movie’s plot, employs some of the same techniques and treats similar topics. The result, co-written and directed by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson — the editors of the original movie — is the head-scratcher “Missing” (Screen Gems).
This time out, it’s the adolescent child and not the parent who’s at the center of the action. Thus we’re introduced to Los Angeles-based high school senior June (Storm Reid).
Still in mourning for her father James (Tim Griffin), who died when she was small, June takes the devotion of her enthusiastically loving mom Grace (Nia Long) for granted. She’s also none too impressed with Grace’s new boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung).
So when the couple heads off for a vacation in Colombia, June treats their departure as a cue to party. After the duo fails to return from the trip as planned, however, she becomes understandably alarmed.
Being a digital native, June marshals the resources of the web with remarkable dexterity as she tries to track Grace and Kevin’s movements abroad. She also uses the internet to hire a local contact, Javi (Joaquim de Almeida), to help her locate them.
As June pursues her search, ever-shifting plot developments keep viewers guessing. More surprisingly, perhaps, Merrick and Johnson’s pleasing puzzle piece also eventually tugs at the heart with resonant themes about familial trust and caregiving as well as the need to show appreciation for loved ones.
There’s some mayhem along the way. But this is treated with restraint and entails little bloodletting. Vulgar dialogue is also kept within respectable bounds. As a result, some parents may consider “Missing” acceptable for mature teens, the other elements listed below notwithstanding.
The film contains brief but intense violence with some gore, underage drinking, at least one use of profanity, about a half-dozen milder oaths, several crude terms and a crass expression. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News.