The Missing

The Missing
Released: 4 March 2004
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Kate Blanchett, Evan Rachel Wood, Eric Schwieg, Val Kilmer and Aaron Eckhart
Director: Ron Howard
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Rated: MA 15+
Running Time: 130 Minutes

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

The Missing is the story of Maggie Gilkeson (Cate Blanchett), a young woman raising her two daughters in an isolated and lawless wilderness. When her oldest daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), is kidnapped by a psychopathic killer with mystical powers (Eric Schweig), Maggie is forced to re-unite with her long estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) to rescue her.

The killer and his brutal cult of desperados have kidnapped several other teenage girls, leaving a trail of death and horror across the desolate landscape of the American Southwest. Maggie and her father are in a race against time to catch up with the renegades and save her daughter, before they cross the Mexican border and disappear forever.

The Missing, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett, is a bone-chilling suspense thriller from Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, the Oscar®-winning director-producer team of A Beautiful Mind.

My Verdict:
Cate Blanchett is superb as Maggie Gilkeson. She gives Maggie a steely feminist resolve yet manages to retain some attractive virtues. She depends on no-one and is determined to keep it that way, blaming much of this on her up-bringing. She harbours deep resentment towards her father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, whom she feels deserted her and her mother. Never mind that he might have had a reason. When Maggies eldest daughter goes missing she has to fight the urge to continue to reject her father, knowing that he might just be the help she needs to find her daughter again.

The Missing is a road trip of sorts. Maggie sets out on horseback from New Mexico, in 1885, to find her daughter. She is forced to take her younger daughter along for the ride and eventually reluctantly enlists her fathers help. They follow the trail of the bandits towards the Mexican border, slowly gaining ground and trying to come up with a way to overcome them and re-capture her daughter. The scenery is a high point of the movie. Vistas of vast plains, suggesting the isolation and harsh reality of living in a wilderness are abundant. There is a type of peace that director, Ron Howard has managed to capture with the many long shots of Arizona and New Mexico.

Tommy Lee Jones makes a great Indian, but perhaps not in 1885. His character has a wicked sense of humour that seemed to come straight from his Men In Black/Space Cowboys roles, so to see him here was a hard concept to grasp.

The Missing is a hard movie to categorise. It is a mix of genres and at times was too mixed. It was a surprise to find it set in 1885 the poster accompanying the movie doesnt suggest that it is a period piece. After the initial shock of the time setting, I found it hard to warm to this movie. There is plenty of gunfire to satisfy those who love a shoot-out, lots of lovely scenery, some great acting, but it failed to inspire this Australian so maybe there was something there that I was missing?

Rating : B-

- Christina Bruce