While Missing can be a mystery, it’s mostly a masterclass in innovative visual storytelling. The film is a 2018 standalone sequel Researchand like its predecessor, MissingThe plot of is entirely mediated by technology.
We see our protagonist June Allen, wonderfully played by Storm Reid, navigate her mother’s disappearance while staring at her laptop screen for the majority of the film’s playthroughs. Every Google search, text message notification, or notes app to-do list is how Missing tells his story. It’s a visually intimate roller coaster.
What is Missing on?
Credit: Sony Pictures
June Allen is your typical Gen Z teenager ready to party all week long while her mother, Grace (Nia Long) vacations in Colombia with her new boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung). But things quickly turn dark when Grace doesn’t return from her vacation, leaving June at the epicenter of a dangerous disappearance where she takes on the role of detective, using her laptop and general tech skills to hack into e-mails. emails, security camera footage, and even TaskRabbit to piece together his mother’s whereabouts.
While the film is riddled with too many twists and turns, its big reveal speaks to a more pressing aspect of our news cycle and its defamation of people of color. This makes Missing an important watch beyond the mere merit of a fun action movie.
The charm of Missing is first in its editing, but the twists and turns become tedious.
Credit: Sony Pictures
MissingThe editing and choosing to tell its story through June’s MacBook is the real fun of the film. This allows the public to get to know her in a truly intimate and innovative way. Yes, we get to know June through her dialogue with other characters throughout. Missingbut we also get extremely detailed information on his laptop — like a to-do list that’s all about “doing a financial aid thing” — that are sweet but subtle nods to what a gen z teenager actually looks like. You can tell a lot about a person by how many Google tabs they have open or how messy their desktop is, and Missing acknowledges this fact and invites you into the world of June.
Editing also leaves room for incredible edits. In the film’s first act, June throws a huge house party that goes through seamless transitions from Snapchat filters to Instagram stories, to triggering emojis that transform into the fireplace in her house. And when the film’s mystery kicks in, the editing and sound design catapult its suspense to a whole new level as we see (and hear) June frantically tapping and clicking on various links for a single clue as to where his mother. All of this places you perfectly in its position and realistically follows what any of us would face with dangerous uncertainty: Google, what are you supposed to do?
But Missing slows down in its second act. The endless twists and turns of the plot, coupled with not seeing June move, kill the suspense. There’s only so many FaceTimes you can watch before you actually want to see your protagonist in action – a feeling that’s most powerful in the final act when we exclusively watch almost everything through a security camera, instead of bringing us closer to June in its last fight.
Missing recognizes where we are with true crime and why it is a problem.
Credit: Sony Pictures
MissingNetflix’s incredible editing is also evident in its final moments, when we see the transition from June’s final fight to the true crime Netflix has made on its story. June wonders why anyone would want to see this “garbage”. And the sensationalism of his story was an incredibly clever tidbit from Missingthe creators ; it’s about a time of entertainment where true crime remains a hot topic for audiences without clear ethical boundaries. We saw him play this year with Netflix Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Storywhere the real-life families involved in the case have spoken out against the show for resurrecting old wounds. And MissingThe internet’s focus on the internet, source of a genuine lust for crime that overshadows what’s really at stake, is a smart move that saves its lackluster final act.
Throughout the film, we also see June’s close friend Veena (Megan Suri) regularly refer to different true crime shows in an attempt to help June figure out what to do next – that’s an added dimension to the film’s reflection on Gen Z culture, while simultaneously addressing the same audience hunger that drives true crime entertainment in the first place. Add to that the flood of viral TikToks in the film about Grace’s disappearance, and Missing is, at its core, a commentary on how true crime can overshadow real-life scenarios and reinforce an environment where nothing is really at stake if it reads like a fun true crime doc.
Missing may drag on, but its decision to address cultural issues, including true crime, racism, and the internet, gives its meandering plot real substance. If you get through its heavy second act, there’s great reward in its finale and fun along the way.
Missing hits theaters on January 20.
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