The Missing - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Missing Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 4, 2007
Not even with the names in this movie can keep me awake during this long uninteresting and uncaptivating movie!
Super Reviewer
½ July 13, 2012
A pretty good addition to the modern day western, mainly thanks to Ron Howard's direction and Cate Blanchett's performance. I'm not a huge Howard fan (apart from Happy Days) but I'm liking his more recent films. Tommy Lee Jones was good too but he really is a one trick Pony of late, maybe he should try something else for a change because he's becoming a parody of himself. Overall, a pretty good film.
Clintus M.
Super Reviewer
May 25, 2012
I am prompted to write this review because I've seen so many negative reviews of The Missing, while personally I enjoyed it and believe it can be defended as at least a good film. It's a modern western, a gripping, chilling adventure, in the vein of John Ford's The Searchers but not so epic in scope or tone. The Missing is beautifully shot and brutal at times, a dark, supernatural spin on the western genre, non-traditional even more with a dominant heroine. This type of tale; white girls kidnapped by ruthless Indians prompting a desperate pursuit and siege, has been done before, but this take is fresh.

I believe the cast to be excellent, and I appreciate director Ron Howard's approach to the characters. Cate Blanchett is the heroine, effective, tough, and believable. Tommy Lee Jones' character is less effective but no less interesting. He's colorful; he adds expertise, but his heavy baggage and decades-long neglect negate any real leadership potential. Blanchett is the dominant force, and the father-daughter dynamic back-story adds some depth.

The Indian sorcerer character, played by Eric Schweig, is brutal and riveting. He's the most frightening character I remember since Hannibal Lecter. His performance is unforgettable, Oscar-caliber.

The Missing isn't perfect, but it is an excellent addition to the modern western alongside: Unforgiven, 3:10 to Yuma, and Purgatory. This story has been criticized for being improbable and melodramatic, but from what I've read, Ron Howard insisted on authenticity throughout the film making process. Call the story unbelievable, so suspend a little disbelief here and go along for the ride. You'll enjoy it.
Super Reviewer
½ February 24, 2012
Howard, a true workingman director, rises some to craft this in-love-with-Westerns Western wherein there's more afoot than simply the typical renegade "Injuns". For one thing Dad (Tommy Lee Jones, loving it) done gone native hisself on us. Blanchett (isn't she British or something? whateverrrr ... she's great), frontier healer, has her hands full trying to get her chile outta the hands of one whack Injun medicine man (ala the Duke's The Searchers).
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2011
I liked the story. But the ending was just sad.
Super Reviewer
½ December 20, 2011
Samuel Jones: If I stay here very long, I might misbehave. Somebody might have to kill me. 

"How far would you go, how much would you sacrifice to get back what you have lost?"

Ron Howard tries his hand at the Western genre, and fails miserably. The Missing has to be one of my  least favorite Howard films I've seen to this point, along with The Da Vinci Code. Everything seems so out of place. Cate Blanchett is a great actress, but I think she is out of place in the film. Aaron Eckart only has a small part at the start of the movie, but he couldn't have been more out of place. The only person who was in their element at all is Tommy Lee Jones and he doesn't deliver one of his more memorable performances. While the actors are out of place, the most out of place person involved here is Ron Howard. He has no business making a movie like this. This isn't the type of movie he excels at. All he can do is borrow plot elements from classic Western films and try to tie them all into one.

The Missing follows the journey of a woman healer, her daughter and her estranged father.  The woman has just had her eldest daughter taken by an Apache and she has to track them down before they make it to Mexico, where she will be sold. The film is neither exciting or thought provoking. It is a boring, overlong waste of talent. 

I like Ron Howard most of the time(When he is bad, he is awful!) and I like all the actors involved here, but there is no way of describing how disappointed I was with this film. I wasn't expecting Stagecoach or anything, but I at least expected a decent Western. What I got was a sorry excuse for a Western from a director who sometimes makes horrible decisions. Howard is still an intelligent filmmaker, for the most part. This was just a bad career move.
Super Reviewer
March 29, 2009
"How far would you go, how much would you sacrifice to get back what you have lost?"

In 1885 New Mexico, a frontier medicine woman forms an uneasy alliance with her estranged father when her daughter is kidnapped by an Apache brujo.

"The Missing", a drama set in the late 1800's American South West, tells of the abduction of a girl by a bunch of Indians to be sold into slavery across the border in Mexico. The girl's grandfather (Jones), a European American who follows the Indian ways, and the girl's homesteading mother (Blanchett) set off to rescue the kidnapee. So begins a 2+ hour long film which portends hard-bitten authenticity but plays out as a run of the mill Western with the usual sterling performance by Blanchett and the usual good-but-not-great work by Jones. Artistically and technically just okay, this flick makes for an entertaining run-of-the-mill Western with lots of Indian talk, symbolism, shaman gobbledygook and some human issues which are rendered with marginal efficacy. Okay stuff for those in the mood for a somewhat long Western.
Super Reviewer
November 2, 2007
One of the worst Westerns in recent memory, concerning a medicine woman (Cate Blancett) who loses her daughter to a ruthless, voodoo-obsessed Indian and his tribe, who desire to track down young girls and sell them into prostitution. With her estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) very much desiring to prove his worth to her as well, he elects to join her in her quest to find her daughter. Howard tries to implement plot points from the classic John Wayne film "The Searchers" as well as Clint Eastwood's gritty "Unforgiven", sadly it comes across as contrived and pathetic. Not only does this thing plod along as if it is in no hurry, the villain in the film is completely unbelievable and over-the-top. Howard's take on Indian culture is a tad offputting. There is also a "voodoo-off" scene between Jones and the villain which is just downright laughable. Throw in a predictable plot, even if how Jones and Blanchett are able to track the Indians is not well-explained, as well as characters you never really, truly care about, this movie is a dud. By far, Howard's worst film, and one that should be avoided at all costs.
Super Reviewer
½ March 22, 2009
Oh crikey, how I wish I'd missed this one!!!
Super Reviewer
August 9, 2009
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Evan Rachel Wood, Simon Baker, Jenna Boyd, Aaron Eckhart, Eric Schweig, Val Kilmer, Jay Tavare, Clint Howard, Ray McKinnon, Elisabeth Moss

Director: Ron Howard

Summary: When Maggie Gilkeson's (Cate Blanchett) oldest daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) is abducted by a witch doctor turned bandit, Maggie enlists her estranged father's (Tommy Lee Jones) help to find her. But they soon discover that other girls have gone missing -- and that time's running out.

My Thoughts: "I found it to be OK. I am not to keen on westerns or movie's of that nature. But it has some great actor's in this film so I thought why not? It felt much more like a suspenseful thriller then some western. But the story is a bit long. The chase seems to go on and on with nothing much going on. The performances are great, the chemistry between the two leads is very good, but it just felt like something was missing from the film. So it's just an OK film for me."
Super Reviewer
August 6, 2010
I don't understand why so many people seem to dislike this film. It has an awful lot going for it, a superb cast, gripping story line , much accuracy, excellent direction and cinematography,superb scenery, not to mention the darker side of Native American beliefs. *****POSSIBLE SPOILER.... Tommy Lee Jones was superb as Cate Blanchets estranged father, and the fact that it was hinted that Lilli, the 'missing' daughter was concieved in less than ideal circumstances was, I think pivotal to the animosity Blanchets character felt toward her father, the fact that he was not there to protect her when she needed him. The fact that Jones was not expecting to be forgiven, but had in fact turned up when he did as the result of being bitten by a rattlesnake and as part of his 'cure', suggested by a medicine man, was that he should not eat rabbit for a year and go look after his family, shows that he had turned up for purely selfish reasons, much the same motivation as to why he left in the first place. **********The complex and compelling characters are acted superbly by a first class cast, without exception, and the deep and more sinister back ground of the brujo man gives this an element not often seen in a film of this genre. I love Westerns, though this film is much more, it is a superb study of human interaction, in a difficult and brutal era in the history of the American people. Ron Howard is to be congratulated for giving the depth to these characters that so many classic westerns dont.
Super Reviewer
½ May 11, 2007
When the daughter of a frontierswoman is kidnapped by slave traders, she enlists the help of her estranged father to track them down. The Missing starts well enough with the usual striking panoramas and spit and dust grittiness of the post Leone western and a stand out cast fill the screen with their formidable presence. Unfortunately Ron Howard's soulless direction means that the plot stutters and stalls from one clod hopping set piece to another as the long, drawn out chase leads to a smattering of nearly-but-not-quite action sequences that never really have a chance to get going, while the girls scream and get themselves into trouble at regular intervals to provide some inadequate "suspense". The occasional brushes with native American voodoo just seem out of place and vaguely absurd and the whole thing just seems a lot less than the sum of its parts. The presence of Blanchett, Jones and Eckhart mean that there is usually someone on screen worth watching, but as a whole it's really rather dull.
Super Reviewer
June 14, 2006
This little known adventure western by director Ron Howard is a gem of the genre. It's violent, surprisingly dark, exciting and beautifully filmed with a great cast and characters you care about, in short: it pretty much has everything you wish for in a film. The story of a female ranger chasing the kidnappers of her daughter together with her estranged wanna-be-Indian father has a lot of potential and pretty much uses all of it all to keep you on the edge of your seat for two hours. Only the supernatural element that is added by the (otherwise excellent) bad guy warlock feels a little out of place. Still, a great film that deserves a lot more attention than it got.
Super Reviewer
April 20, 2007
Cate Blanchett's acting is as good as ever, the story however lost me in parts and found it hard to keep my concentration. I think it's definitely one for a one off watch, you're not gonna want to watch this over and over
Super Reviewer
June 11, 2007
A very good western that is just as good as any other that has come out over the last 10 years or so. Deserves a wider audience.
Super Reviewer
½ February 3, 2007
A gripping and spine-chilling thriller
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2007
This is a little depressing and can be gory at times.
Super Reviewer
½ November 13, 2006
Really psychological thriller as I dislike the ugly Indian villian as I was glad he's dead and defeated by a young woman and her estranged father.
Super Reviewer
August 17, 2007
Great performances by all! Some of the Native American characters are not shown in a good light. A bunch of Indians who were working as scouts for the US army have gone rouge and under the leadership of an evil witch-doctor are kidnapping young women to sell across the Mexico border. Blanchett still has here youngest daughter with her but has lost her older daughter. She can't rely on any official law enforcement to track down the criminals and retrieve her daughter. Her father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, has recently wondered back into her life and he is probably the only one who can help her. Her father abandoned the family when she was young and he has tried to live life as an Indian since. He has a wild spirit. There are lots of great father/daughter and mother/daughter dynamics. It is a violent, mysterious wild west where white Christian culture and Native American mystic, spiritual practices are mixing and exploding.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ March 20, 2012
With a title like that, I was expecting this to be some kind of western-"mystery"-thriller, partially because I was hoping that this would redeem Ron Howard after his other mystery-thriller, "The Da Vinci Code". Now, granted, this came out before "The Da Vinci Code", but hey, I don't care what time it is, just as long as something Ron Howard did washes the taste out of my mouth. Well, as much as I like this film, it's not quite that major redemption that I've been looking for, seeing as it is rather unsubtle, just like the consensus said... in a tonally jarring fashion. I love how the consensus starts out saying that the acting and directing is "expert", yet the only reason it has mixed reviews is because it's not all that subtle. Hey, now, I would understand if we were talking some Alfred Hitchcock stuff, but this is a western thriller, so I'm not asking for too much subtlety. Of course, what subtlety I am going for doesn't go completely answered by this film. No, the film isn't that far out there; it's certainly more subtle than "Tombstone", yet there's no denying that this film doesn't totally deliver on what it should.

The film may be unsubtle, though it certainly boasts that pretense, being meditative, dry and undeveloped, as though it intended to draw you into the environment. Rather than neutralising the sting of flaws through an actually subtle, meditative atmosphere, Ron Howard approaches the film with convolution, which not only intensifies the pretense, but adds insult to injury by confusing you rather frequently with disjointed storytelling that all but wipes any emotional resonance clean. I really like Ron Howard more often than not, but when he slips up on something, he hits the ground hard. Sure, this film isn't on the level of failure as, well, at this point, I probably don't even have to say it, but man, do I love to, because Ron Howard needs to be reminded of the swill that was "The Da Vinci Code". Still, this film is an absolute mess, squandering potential in the heat of unjustified pretense and convolution that dilutes the human touch and could have left this product an absolutely tedious bore of a film. However, note that I said, "could have". The film's a mess, to be sure, but not an absolute failure, as it is kept floating along with, if nothing else, fine style serving as its raft.

If Ron Howard is known for nothing else, it's a stellar taste in cinematography, and here, well, brother, I need not say it, but I say it anyways, loud and proud: ...Eh, the cinematography's not all that great. No, but seriously though, this film lacks that distinctive visual style that I love from Ron Howard so much, yet when he's needed most, Salvatore Totino knows how to work lighting and angles to really set a sense of claustrophobia and tension, though does not nail the tone quite as well as the great James Horner, who delivers on a dynamic, sweeping score that may not be on quite enough to keep the film from getting, not just slow, but boring, yet when it does come into play, you can pretty much take it to the bank that it's going to be hauntingly awesome. Still, a handsome visual style and knock-you-dead score is, admittedly, exactly what you can say about, well, a certain something that rhymes with "The La Zinchi Fode". For this film to not fall to pieces, it's going to have to at least get some effort from Ron Howard, and sure enough, while Howard doesn't pump this film with the subtlety and smoothness that could have saved it, when it comes to tension and compellingness, he hits just a little bit more than he misses, and for every moment where he lets you down on the emotional resonance, he picks you up just enough to see the path through to the end. Still, all I have to say is forget Totino, Horner and definately Howard, because although these people keep the film going, the product is truly carried by our well-cast leads, particularly - nay - especially Cate Blanchett, who has never disappointed before, and even when she's facing potential mediocrity, she still delivers. Something that's very unique about this film as a western is its being a portrait on a strong female hero on horseback, and if you're looking for someone who can at least deliver on that aspect of the film, few, if any actresses could pull it off as masterfully as Blanchett, who, with depth in her emoting and, well, subtlety and grace in her presence, portrays this heroine with human vulnerability and, most of all, a strong leading presence that sell you on the Maggie Gilkeson character's pain, fears, confidence and potential. She upstages every other performance in this film, yet spares the spotlight for anyone, partially because she shares such strong chemistry with all of her castmates, particularly Tommy Lee Jones, whose Samuel Jones character has quite a powerful story arc Blanchett's Maggie Gilkeson character, and he and Blanchett form quite the team as they sell you on this significant subplot that keeps you particularly glued to the screen whenever they grace it together.

Overall, the film lacks the subtlety to justify its dry, sometimes meditative tone and convolutions, rendering it dull and hardly emotionally engaging, yet what keeps it alive is, if nothing else, fine visual style and riveting score work by James Horner, while what more than saves it is Ron Howard's golden moments of effective storytelling and what carries it are the powerful performances, particularly Cate Blanchett, who's powerful stand-alone emotion and compelling chemistry with Tommy Lee Jones kicks enough juice into "The Missing" to make a watchable film, regardless of its squandered potential.

2.5/5 - Fair
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