Do you ever feel like you are being watched? Because this might be true. The modern technological boom has made 24-hour surveillance a reality. But you might say that your home is not wrapped in CCTV surveillance cameras? Unfortunately, the tiny selfie cameras on our phones and laptops are keeping an eye on us 24×7. Scary, isn’t it? This is definitely a breach of privacy! Online surveillance was developed by the Truman administration in the United States in 1952 as a post-war code-breaking program. Post-9/11, the rate of surveillance in the United States increased by multiple folds. Surveillance is not a modern phenomenon in that sense. Do you remember Hamlet’s uncle Claudius, the Usurper, calling on his university friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to keep an eye on Hamlet? Or, you must have heard your mother requesting your best friend to watch out for you during your day trip. The most interesting part of this conversation about surveillance is that we have, to some extent, normalized it. In fact, now we have surveillance devices of our own to monitor our houses, our pets, and our children—basically, all our property. This web of monitoring devices (obviously, the internet has a huge role to play in it) has also turned us into excellent online sleuths. So, if you are the “glass half full” kind of person and trace the positive out of thin air, you might use this surveillance system to trace a missing family member—just as it happens in the 2023 thriller “Missing.”
“Missing” is a stand-alone sequel to the 2018 film “Searching,” where a father uses his daughter’s laptop to locate her when she goes missing. It is interesting to watch a whole film laid out through the tabs on your laptop screen. All the background noise of popping notifications and Facetime ringtones and the bright light from the devices reflecting on your eyes will definitely make the most level-headed individual anxious. In my own experience, at one point in the film, I was so involved that I felt I was looking for my own missing mother and was only seconds away from a panic attack. This movie is going to keep you on the edge of your seat, and unlike mass entertainers, it urges you to keep up with what’s happening on screen. In other words, it demands your participation as an active viewer and forces you to perceive a suitable conclusion. “Missing” is based on a story by Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chaganty. Chaganty was, in fact, the director of “Searching.” The editors of the film “Searching,” Nick Johnson and Will Merrick, are, in fact, the screenwriters and directors of “Missing.” In spite of being a thriller, the film has a tender core—it deals with the tension of a strained mother-daughter relationship. So, despite driving you to the edge of your seat and forcing you to grab the armrest in the chair you are sitting in, the film connects with you on a sentimental level. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2023, and was subsequently released in the USA. The film has been critically acclaimed and received good reviews from audiences. The plot of the film follows an eighteen-year-old girl named June, who finds out her mother is missing. After a week-long vacation with her boyfriend Kevin in Columbia, June’s mother, Grace Allen, vanishes from the face of the earth. The initial investigation points out that she might have been abducted. But as the FBI and June dig further, the buried skeletons of the past begin to resurface. Although the film is a thriller, it has some good performances by the cast. Here is a character guide along with detailed information about important members of the cast:
Storm Reid As June
June is an eighteen-year-old tech-savvy young adult. She lost her father to a brain tumor when she was a child, and she doesn’t even remember his funeral. The film begins with a family home video, which in June’s memory, is the last family vacation. Just like the tantrums and actions of any other teenager, June now has a strained relationship with her mother. She doesn’t communicate properly with her mother. She doesn’t even respond to her mother’s voicemails. June seems to live on her computer. Her mother, Grace Allen, has a new boyfriend, and they go on vacation to Columbia. On their return, Grace had asked her to pick them up. June was enjoying her freedom from an overbearing mother. But her short-lived happiness turns into anxiety and concern when her mother and her boyfriend did not come back to LA. June tries all the avenues to search for her mother. She conducts a parallel detective investigation to that of the FBI while sitting on her chair in front of her laptop at home. June comes across numerous hidden details about her parents. She doesn’t realize that she is actually digging deeper than she can handle. Her life and this incident about her mother’s kidnapping felt like an episode from a true crime television show, and ironically, her journey of tracing her mother’s whereabouts gets made into an episode on a TV show too.
Storm Reid efficiently breathes life into June Allen. Reid is known for her roles in “12 Years a Slave”, “Sleight,” and “A Very Bad Day,” and most famously for her role as Gia Bennett in the HBO show “Euphoria.”
Joaquim De Almeida As Javier
Javier is a service provider from Columbia with a very low rating on the service provider app. When June is unable to reach either her mother or her mother’s boyfriend, she contacts the hotel in Columbia. They informed her that they had left the hotel around Friday and had left all their luggage back at the hotel. The hotel informs her that they have CCTV surveillance footage, but the system keeps writing it over every 48 hours. She hires Javier to visit that hotel in Columbia to gather that footage for her. By the time Javi reaches the hotel, the footage, unfortunately, gets erased. Javier empathizes with June and becomes a father figure, guiding her throughout her detective journey.
Honestly, Javi should not have a low rating on that service provider app. He is endearing, helpful, and lovable, and Joaquim de Almeida fits perfectly into the role. He is Portuguese by birth and has appeared in films like “Fast & Furious 5”, “Clear and Present Danger,” “Behind Enemy Lines” and “Desperado.”
Nia Long As Grace Allen
Grace Allen is June’s mother. She goes missing while she is on a trip with her boyfriend, Kevin. She apparently lost her husband to a brain tumor almost a decade ago. Through the ongoing investigation, it is revealed that there is a court seal on her previous identity. As soon as this comes to light, people begin to suspect that she has deliberately staged her kidnapping. In the course of the film, we learn that her real name is Sarah and that she was actually kidnapped by her husband, June’s father, James. Grace had fabricated the story of James’s tumor and death to hide the fact from June that her father was a drug addict and was imprisoned in a Texas correctional facility. At the end of the day, she is a loving mother who would do anything to protect her child.
Nia Long is very convincing as Grace Allen. Nia Long is best known for her performances in “The Best Man,” “Boiler Room,” “Big Momma’s House,” and “The Best Man Holiday.”
Ken Leung As Kevin
Kevin is Grace’s boyfriend. After hacking into his Google account, June discovers Kevin to be a con artist who was a convicted felon before meeting her mother. We later learn that James, June’s father, has hired Kevin to take revenge on Grace for separating him from June. Kevin is later shot by the Columbian police.
Ken Leung plays the role of Kevin, who seems to be a very nice gentleman who would have the same password for all his social media accounts. Ken Leung has appeared in TV series like “The Sopranos,” “Lost,” and “Industry.”
We also have Amy Landecker as Grace Allen’s lawyer friend, who gets murdered for trying to protect June from her father. Apart from this, Daniel Henney as FBI Agent Park and Megan Suri as June’s friend Veena are adequate in their performances. Undoubtedly, “Missing” has been the best thriller I have watched in 2023 yet.