If you’re going to the movies this weekend, you don’t want to miss Missing (2023). A standalone sequel, it follows Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching (2018), starring John Cho. While Searching is about a father looking for his missing daughter, Missing tells the story of a daughter desperately searching for her mother—and we promise, it’s just as good as the first one. Take a look at the full trailer below.
A Balanced Story
I think we can agree that a lot of sequels aren’t necessary. It’s painful to watch a sequel that’s a cash-grab, but Missing compliments Searching in a way that makes the films feel like two halves of a whole.
One is about a parent looking for their child, realizing that they’ve taken their relationship for granted, and learning more about their child by learning about technology and social media. The second is about a child looking for their parent, realizing that they’ve taken their relationship for granted, and learning more about them by using technology and social media. At first glance, that might just seem like the same story twice, but the nuance of each film has a lot to say about generations, family relationships, and how we interact with technology.
By reversing the situation, Missing assures us that this dynamic goes both ways. The problem isn’t simply that parents don’t understand their kids, or that kids take their parents for granted. Family is a complicated thing, we all make mistakes, and we’re all connected in so many different ways.
Another thing I love about Missing is that the kids aren’t automatically technology experts. There’s a general perception that—if you grew up in the digital era—you’re a tech wiz. While the main character, June, is certainly inventive in the way she uses the internet to search for her mother, she still relies on the strengths of other characters. One of the best characters in the film is Javi, played by Joaquim de Almeida, who June hires through a task-app to look for her mother in Columbia. When June gets too wrapped up in digital thinking, Javi often proposes a different, analog solution. Together, they’re able to piece together details that neither one could acquire on their own.
Searching and Missing are also both careful to show that technology is a problem as much as it is a solution. Having your laptop connected to your phone connected to your watch can be convenient and useful—and also a security nightmare. In this day and age, it’s a feat to surprise people when it comes to technology, but Missing forces us to view ordinary devices in a different way. One of the best parts, it shows how an “incorrect” or unconventional use of those devices can be just as valuable as using them for their intended purposes.
What’s more, it just makes for interesting storytelling. “Screen capture” films seem to be the new “found footage” films. Little things like apps on a home screen, the hesitant hover of a cursor, the dreaded three dots when you’re waiting for a reply—all of them convey a staggering amount of detail in a fraction of a second.
Let’s be clear: you don’t need to watch Searching to understand Missing. You don’t need to see Searching to enjoy Missing. Still, I’d heavily suggest watching Searching first—partly because it’s an incredible movie, and partly because it shines a line on the details included in Missing. The film is full of Easter eggs from its predecessor, including some of the same influencers, showing articles about the events of the first film, setting up the same situation only to portray it in a different way.
Since sequels are reboots are becoming so commonplace in Hollywood, the standards have been raised. When in our review of Glass Onion, we discussed how it felt disconnected from the original despite the presence of Benoit Blanc; the story is a little flimsier and there are no direct references to Knives Out. (Unless you count the part where Birdie says Blanc solved “the case with the ballerina.” Since Ana de Armas is set to star in the upcoming Ballerina, part of the John Wick franchise, I’m choosing to believe that was an intentional, out-of-universe reference.)
The case could be made that Glass Onion isn’t really intended as a continuation, just another story in the same universe. But if you want to see a standalone sequel done right, you should certainly add Missing to your watchlist. It stands as its own story while still maintaining better continuity than some Marvel films…not that that’s saying much.
Missing (2023) is in theaters now.