THE MISSING, by Academy Award winning director Ron Howard (A BEAUTIFUL MIND),
is, surprisingly, just an overly long, Western snoozer. Set in New Mexico in
1885, the story concerns the kidnapping of a teenage girl, Lilly (Evan Rachel
Wood), from her home by a group of renegade Indians, accompanied by a few white
men. Once the Indians get into Mexico, they plan on selling Lily and several
Hot on their trail -- well, "hot" probably isn't the best term to use for any
part of this lifeless production -- is her mother, Maggie (Cate Blanchett), her
younger sister, Dot (Jenna Boyd), and her grandfather, Jones (Tommy Lee Jones).
Jones is a white man who has spent so much time with the Indians than he can
and does pass for one. Maggie hates Jones since he abandoned her mother, but
she is forced to rely on him because of his superb tracking skills. The movie
is one long, relatively uneventful chase as Maggie and Co. try to find and
About the only thing unusual about the story, written by Ken Kaufman and based
on a Thomas Eidson novel, is the identity of the villain. The head of the
group of Indians is a witch, who briefly puts a spell on Maggie. But the curse
doesn't last and isn't much worse than a very brief case of the flu, so the
impact of this supernatural aspect of the film is minimal.
Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett, who can usually be relied upon to give
memorable performances, both give subdued performances that are quickly
forgotten. Evan Rachel Wood, who was devastating as the rebellious teen in
THIRTEEN, barely registers a pulse this time. There isn't much wrong with THE
MISSING. The problem is that there is almost nothing right with it either.
None of the characters are well developed, so that, when they are danger, we
just don't care.
You should take a hint from the title and miss this movie. If you do see it,
there will probably be only one line that will resonate with you -- when Maggie
proclaims, "Let's go home!"
THE MISSING runs a very long 2:10. The film is in English and in Chiricahua
and Spanish with English subtitles. It is rated R for "violence" and would be
acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes