The new film from writer/director duo Nick Johnson and Will Merrickbased on a story by the original “Searching” team of Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian, takes exactly the same approach. It pulls off the impressive narrative highwire act, but includes a few too many twists and turns, eventually draining much of the realism that made it so gripping for so long. But “Missing” is also zippy in many ways because the character at the center is an 18-year-old high school senior who has interacted with this kind of technology his entire life, rather than a middle-aged father who figures it out out as he walks.
Storm Reid‘s June is a master multitasker, a wizard of the World Wide Web. It’s like watching Lydia Tár conduct the Berlin Philharmonic, only with FaceTime and Venmo and Spotify. Even before his widowed mother, Grace (a lovely Nia Long), goes on a Colombian vacation with her new boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung), we learn so much about the way June spends her days just by watching her jump between tabs and tap away on her keyboard. She often goes on camera on her computer, giving us a look into her bedroom and the way she interacts with people IRL. Reid has a likable, engaging screen presence, and she quickly establishes that June is both smart and a smart-ass.
But when Grace and Kevin fail to show up at LAX as planned—which we also see because June has her cell phone set up to capture the moment she greets them at baggage claim—her instincts and years of online experience really kick in. . We feel her growing terror as she struggles to communicate with the receptionist at a hotel in Cartagena, who only speaks Spanish. But she’s such a resourceful problem-solver that she realizes she can navigate this city from afar with Google maps and the help of a Taskrabbit-like errand boy for hire named Javi (Joaquim de Almeida, who brings a welcome warmth and humor to this exciting scenario).