It is every parent’s worst nightmare that their child get
kidnapped and in director Ron Howard’s new film “The Missing,” that
nightmare becomes reality for frontierswoman Maggie Gilkesen (Cate
Blanchet) when her oldest daughter gets abducted. The idea of
another kidnapped child movie may sound less than original, but
“The Missing” is not a typical kidnapping movie.
Lily (“Thirteen’s” Evan Rachel Wood) has not been kidnapped by
your average ski mask-wearing crazy. Oh no, Lily’s captor is an
Apache Brujo (witch) who has taken her and others to sell them to
Mexicans as prostitutes. Luckily for Maggie, her estranged father,
Samuel (Tommy Lee Jones), who abandoned his family years ago to
live with Indians, showed up just prior to the kidnapping. Maggie
despises her father for deserting her as a child, but can’t deny
his usefulness in aiding the search for her daughter.
As father and daughter, as well as Maggie’s youngest daughter,
Dot, set out to find the missing girl, there are more than a few
deep-seated issues for Maggie and Samuel to work out along the way.
“The Missing” deals as much with the reconciliation of this father
and daughter as it does about whether or not they will find the
kidnapped girl. And since the film clocks in at well over two
hours, there is ample time for both plots to materialize.
“The Missing” is being classified as a western, but it is
equally a thriller and family drama. The film is often very
exciting and harsh, sometimes touching, and at times captivating as
it pulls you along on its quest. Unfortunately, it becomes a little
Although it is a commonly used movie convention, sometimes
numerous failed attempts by characters to accomplish the task they
set out to do tries an audience’s patience. Just when you think
Maggie and gang are about to finally succeed in freeing the captive
girls, someone always has to do something stupid to ruin
everything. “The Missing” uses this tool in an attempt to stretch
out the drama and excitement for as long as possible, but you can
only take so much before you feel like the characters should say
“screw it” and go home.
Another related problem with the film lies with Lily herself. In
the short while before her kidnapping, Lily is constantly whining
and complaining about frontier life and her dreams of living in the
city. She is a disrespectful brat to her mom, a characteristic
typical of her age. In order for the audience to really hope for
her safe rescue, it would have been more effective if a stronger
bond with her family had been displayed.
Despite those minimal flaws, “The Missing” is an entertaining
film. The movie is a little long, but I never felt bored. The
performances are great, especially from Blanchet, and the movie
leaves an impression on you that lasts after you leave the
3 out of 4 rams
Movies in Brief
“The Haunted Mansion”
Eddie Murphy stars in this film adaptation of the popular
Disneyland attraction as a realtor who goes with his wife and kids
to a spooky mansion after its owner expresses interest in selling
The mansion and its accompanying surroundings are the most
impressive things about the film. Murphy is only mediocre in the
role, as is the film itself. The movie is aimed at family
entertainment, but the convoluted plot may be too confusing for
2.5 out of 4
Billy Bob Thorton makes Scrooge look like Santa himself in this
dark, Christmas comedy. Thorton stars as a department store Santa
who endures his dislike for all things good in order to rob the
stores at the end of his stint.
The film is very funny at times, but seeing a man dressed as
Santa endlessly get drunk and swear is a joke that loses its
initial freshness after awhile. Due to its coarseness, “Bad Santa”
is not for kids or even a lot of adults for that matter.
2.5 out of 4