The Missing Reviews
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.
"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.
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.
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."
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