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The Missing

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Missing

Starring: Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek
Director: Constantin Costa-Gavras
Rated: PG
RunTime: 122 Minutes
Release Date: November 2003
Genres: Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: John Shea, Melanie Mayron, Janice Rule, Charles Cioffi, David Clennon, Joe Regalbuto, Richard Venture

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

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 other girls.

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 rescue Lilly.

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

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