[Screen It]


(2023) (Storm Reid, Nia Long) (PG-13)

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Suspense/Thriller: When her mom and new boyfriend go missing while on vacation in Columbia, an 18-year-old uses all the technology at her disposal to try and find her.

Following the cancer death of her father, James (TIM GRIFFIN), years ago, it's just been 18-year-old June Allen (STORM REID) and her mom, Grace (NIA LONG), who make up their family. But in typical teenage rebellion fashion, June sees her mom as overbearing and overprotective and thus is pleased when Grace travels to Colombia for some R & R with her new boyfriend, Kevin (KEN LEUNG).

Managing to keep family friend and lawyer Heather Damore (AMY LANDECKER) in the dark, June is planning on hosting a blowout party with her best friend, Veena (MEGAN SURI), and many others at the end of that week-long respite. The next morning, she heads to the airport to pick up her mom and Kevin, only to discover that they didn't make the flight.

She then begins an increasingly frantic search from afar -- using all available technology at her disposal to aid her -- in hopes of discovering what happened to her mom who, it turns out, never checked out of her hotel.

Hiring a local Columbian, Javi (JOAQUIM DE ALMEIDA), as her boots-on-the-ground investigator, and hoping for help from FBI Agent Park (DANIEL HENNEY), June does what she can to figure out what's happened and track down her mom.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10

Back in early 2015, the sixteenth episode of season six of the TV show "Modern Family" featured a unique spin on the usual sitcom format. "Connection Lost" took place entirely on Claire's laptop screen as she connected with family members through various social networking services, including using those to try to find her "missing" daughter.

I don't know if that inspired in any way writer/director Aneesh Chaganty's 2018 offering, "Searching," but there's no denying the format similarities. In that film, John Cho played a father trying to track down his missing teenage daughter using social media accounts and more, with most of the "action" taking place on device screens.

Now, an indirect sequel of sorts, "Missing," has arrived in theaters based on a story idea by Chaganty. Written and directed by that earlier film's editors, Nick Johnson and Will Merrick, the pic operates from the same basic premise, albeit with a number of changes.

Namely, it's that this time around, the parent, Grace (Nia Long), has gone missing with her new boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung), while on vacation in Colombia. So, it's up to Grace's 18-year-old daughter, June (Storm Reid), to figure out what's happened to her mom after she and Kevin fail to arrive back at LAX.

Going into increasingly desperate sleuth mode, June uses the tech tools available to her, including a temp worker for hire site to find a local man, Javi (Joaquim de Almeida), to get to the hotel where the couple was staying and obtain the security camera footage before it's over-written.

When that doesn't pan out, she continues using the various online tools at her disposal, moving from one discovery to the next as the plot thickens, resulting in -- like before -- a fairly riveting experience that clocks in at a bit less than two hours.

That said, while everything fits together like a complex jigsaw puzzle, the ultimate answer to the whos, whats, and whys eventually got a bit far-fetched for more liking, but not to the point of ruining all that leads up to that point. And that includes not really knowing how things will ultimately play out, along with some emotionally effective moments, particularly between June and Javi as they discover they have some common ground despite their differences and the distance between them.

The performances are solid across the board, and Johnson and Merrick do a fine job of preventing things from getting redundant since so much of what occurs happens with the camera pointed at various screens, which in theory, could run the risk of ending up stagnant and repetitive after a while. Thankfully it doesn't, and the result is a high-tech thriller that works fairly well, despite the third-act developments. "Missing" rates as a 6.5 out of 10.

Posted January 20, 2023

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