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‘Missing’ overview: Thriller sequel follows digital breadcrumbs


In 2018, director Aneesh Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian turned in a nifty little thriller, “Searching,” that feedback on the way in which we dwell now, which is to say, on-line. In it, John Cho searches for his lacking daughter by way of her digital detritus, parsing clues in plain sight. The entirety of the movie happened on a pc display screen, making use of the way in which cameras permeate our on a regular basis existence, from FaceTime to surveillance video.

“Searching” was a crucial and business success, and a follow-up, “Missing” — written and directed by Nick Johnson and Will Merrick, with a narrative by Chaganty and Ohanian — hits theaters this week. This time, it’s a guardian that’s gone lacking, and as the daughter searches for her mom, she turns up an entire host of latest terrors and triumphs of tech and true crime.

Johnson and Merrick use the format set by “Searching,” however the technological, cultural and media panorama has advanced, together with the fireplace hose of streaming true crime content material. The solely time the digicam is ever liberated from the laptop computer display screen is throughout fake-out re-creations from a Netflix true crime collection referred to as “Unfiction.” There’s additionally the proliferation of TikTok detectives and Twitter police performing armchair evaluation on each lacking particular person case.

If you’ve seen “Searching,” you’ll in all probability have an inkling that the reply will probably be planted in entrance of filmgoers, however “Missing” takes some completely wild and loopy twists and turns in arriving at its vacation spot. College-bound June (Storm Reid), 18, simply needs to rage along with her associates whereas her mother, Grace (Nia Long), is on trip in Colombia along with her new boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung). But when a hungover June rolls into LAX to select them up every week later, Grace and Kevin are no-shows.

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Relying on her spectacular Google abilities, innate to a digitally native member of Gen Z, June begins looking for her lacking mother, combing by way of vacationer dwell cams, financial institution statements and hiring a TaskRabbit-type helper, Javi (Joaquim de Almeida), to do footwork in Colombia. June is wise, resourceful and daring, and the way in which she cracks passwords and navigates the maze of data will make anybody assume deeply about how a lot knowledge monitoring one ought to depart toggled on of their Google account. Is it higher to go away a hint? Depends on what you’re doing.

The suspenseful “Missing” plows by way of practically two hours of surprising plot twists at a breakneck tempo. And whereas it’s entertaining to make certain, it additionally takes on a somber tone because it reckons with grief, loss and intimate accomplice violence in a means that’s very actual, backed up by headlines ripped from the information, and sure, these true crime collection and TikToks which can be so very compelling.

That’s what makes films like “Searching” and “Missing” so fascinating. They’re not solely high-concept thrillers that includes melodramatic appearing (Reid is a likable presence, nevertheless it’s uncertain she’ll snag an Independent Spirit Award nomination the way in which Cho did) however additionally they really feel genuine to the way in which we dwell, even within the outlandish moments.

We expertise a lot of our actuality on-line, unknowingly scattering artifacts of our lived expertise as we click on and swipe. But “Searching” and “Missing” reiterate that regardless of the images, movies, the bread crumbs of humanity mirrored in zeroes and ones, there’s nothing like the actual factor, for higher, or for worse.

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Walsh is a Tribune News Service movie critic.


Rated: PG-13, for some sturdy violence, language, teen ingesting and thematic materials

Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Playing: Starts Jan. 20 usually launch


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