We find Maggie (Cate Blanchett) in late 19th century New Mexico making a modest living as a doctor, working the land and raising her two daughters, Lily (Evan Rachel Wood) and the younger Dot (Jenna Boyd) with the help of her gentleman friend (Aaron Eckhart). When her hound-dog-faced father Samuel (Tommy Lee Jones) returns from decades of finding himself with the Indians, she is less than pleased to see him. But when a group of criminals and an Indian warlock kidnap her eldest daughter, Maggie must rely on Samuel to execute a dangerous rescue.
Big deal. Marketers billed this as a supernatural thriller and aside from it not being supernatural or thrilling, they were right on. The Missing fails to offer up anything remotely identifiable as horror, with the exception of an early death scene that misleads the genre-loving audience. The 'brujo' is not particularly intimidating, consisting of some bad makeup (more than visible in the close-ups) and a few boogah-boogah interactions with his victims.
Tommy Lee Jones has some cute moments, but basically reprises his role from Men in Black, Space Cowboys or anything else heís ever been in, but itís hard not to like him. Blanchett remains a bold and appealing star, but chooses a misfire here only slightly better than the dreadful Veronica Guerin. The talented Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen) is not given much to do, but the young Jenna Boyd impresses with her determination. Jat Tavare has an appealing role as the 'good' Indian guy. Aaron Eckhart has a small but likable role.
Besides not being particularly interesting, The Missing is also long. The only ticking clock that propels the story is the idea that the kidnapped will be sold over the Mexican border never to be heard from again. The periodic gunfights do little to spark our interest and the result is a stale waste of time.
Much effort is put on ensuring that this story is as much about a father-daughter relationship as it is about a daring rescue. But Samuel seems to have so little to say about it when pressed, it seems awfully wasteful. Why even bother to bring it up if the author isnít going to give us a real resolution on the issue?
Itís difficult to nail down the true culprit in a case of bad filmmaking such as this. The cast is certainly competent. And thereís definitely worse screenwriting out there. So it must be one of those cases where tight little trailers gave us unrealistic expectations.
At any rate, the only thing evident that Ron Howard directed this is the obligatory supporting role by his brother Clint.
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