'Missing' Is the Whodunnit Sequel 'Glass Onion' Fell Short Of Directed by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson

Starring Storm Reid, Joaquim de Almeida, Ken Leung, Amy Landecker, Daniel Henney, Nia Long, Megan Sure
'Missing' Is the Whodunnit Sequel 'Glass Onion' Fell Short Of Directed by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson
Photo: Temma Hankin
Screenlife films have become a genre unto themselves with varying degrees of success. The most well-received has, without a doubt, been 2018's Searching, starring John Cho and Debra Messing, which showed the creative potential of telling a story only through computer and smartphone screens. Filmmakers have since attempted to recreate this magic, wobbling between gimmick and honest storytelling. Missing, a standalone sequel to Searching, surprisingly finds the equilibrium in this precarious balancing act, creating a delightful mystery thriller. 

Missing focuses on Storm Reid's June (and her Macbook and iPhone), a rebellious 18-year-old who, like most teenagers, is feeling the pinch of an overbearing mother, Grace (Nia Long). When Grace and her boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung), don't show up at the airport after their vacation to Colombia, June sets about tracking them down.

June uses a Taskrabbit-like site and hires Javier (Joaquim de Almeida) to look around Cartagena for clues, while also conducting her own online investigation. Inevitably, she discovers more than she bargained for, untangling a web of lies and dangerous revelations. 

Reid holds down the film with a compelling performance that delivers on the gripping thrills and moments of youthful levity expected in a movie like Missing. Her chemistry with de Almeida is a highlight, with plenty of laughs and some surprisingly heartfelt exchanges. Long and Leung both turn in great performances, and, as long-standing formidable supporting actors, there's a real joy in seeing them on screen in interesting roles not regularly given to them.

Many of the twists and turns of Missing are predictable but nonetheless entertaining. The film, the directorial debut of Will Merrick and Nick Johnson (both editors on Searching), exemplifies the best of the mystery genre: it leaves breadcrumbs for audiences to play along (and be rewarded on rewatches), offers up red herrings and underscores reveals with just enough shock-horror camp. 

The apps and technology are appropriately upgraded from Searching, with appearances from TikTok, Taskrabbit, Ring video doorbell and Siri (hilariously, the film's use of Siri set off someone's phone during my screening). While there are moments of great convenience — June's FaceTime desktop app is constantly open, passwords are slightly too easy to guess — Merrick and Johnson use the "screenlife elements" in a dynamic fashion that aids the storytelling in pacing and styling. 

Merrick and Johnson also update Missing to the social norms of today, with true crime aficionados rampant across the comment sections of social media and podcasts. It's a relatively brief addition to the film, but it aptly gets across the scourge of true crime: it's easy spout off online as an armchair detective and psychologist, but it's an entirely different experience when it's you and your family. This empathetic layer isn't the main concern of the film, but it adds to its depth.

Missing had a high bar to clear, and while I can't say it's necessarily better than Searching, it's definitely a worthy sequel (standalone or not). And not to ruffle the feathers of the Glass Onion army, but I'll go as far to say that Missing is the mystery whodunnit that the Knives Out sequel simply wasn't. (Sony)