Directed by Ron Howard.
Written by Ken Kaufman. Based on the novel by Thomas Eidson.
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett and Evan Rachel Wood.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 12/2/03
So, it's kind of like this--you're sitting
there, taking in the scenery of the Southwest that makes up "The
Missing", looking at the pretty snow, enjoying the view from
mountain vistas. You get some characters that are somewhat
interesting, and then there is a kidnapping, and then there is some
soul-searching, and then there are a couple of shootouts, and then,
150 minutes later.
And, even though
"Open Range" was another
quiet western drama that was also that long, I thought "Open Range"
was quite interesting in its introspectiveness (if that's even a
word) and the tension that built to its climactic shootout between
cattlemen in a small town. "The Missing", which follows a mother (Cate
Blanchett), her distant Apache father (Tommy Lee Jones), and the
mother's kidnapped teenager Lily ("Thirteen" star Evan Rachel Wood),
is a movie that just seems to kind of ride along. You know that the
teenager will be rescued from her evil Apache kidnappers, but how?
About halfway through the film, do you really care?
I didn't, but I will admit that the scenery
is so beautiful that your attention will be held throughout the
picture. And, who doesn't love Tommy Lee Jones chewing up the
scenery? Jones looks so old in this film that you don't think he
could possibly be any older, but I say that every time I see him in
a movie. I also like shootouts, and even though the ones in this
film are not very good, just seeing men fire rifles at other men
gives me a rise. (I like Ron Howard, and he has made many great
films, but action scenes are clearly not his forte.)
What doesn't work here is predictability.
It works against the film's plotting on countless occasions:
-->If they had called this film "Young White
Girls Will Fuck Up Your Plan", it would have been incredibly
accurate; there are at least four scenes in "The Missing" where the
mother's youngest daughter Dot (Jenna Boyd) screws up and almost
gets all of the good guys killed. (This, of course, is preceded by
the Jones character telling the mother “Are you SURE we should bring
her along?”) Then, you even get a couple of scenes where Lily gets
a couple of people killed! By the time that Dot accidentally
signals the bad guy Apaches with her binoculars, at least a dozen
people in my audience were groaning "Of COURSE!"
-->It's a western, and there are Indians, so
you can imagine there will be scenes where someone blows some kind
of fairy dust on another character that will alternately heal or
kill them. And, there will be curses put on other characters by
witches. You have to expect this; in "The Missing", I just thought
these scenes were hokey.
-->From all the reading I have done about
the inaccuracy of rifles from the late 1800s, I am stunned that so
many directors try to make us believe that they are accurate from
half a mile away. And there you have it, another sequence where
good guys are picking off bad guys from this distance, while bad
guys predictably spray shots all over the place while never hitting
Despite all of this, I think that there are
enough cinematic aspects of "The Missing" to warrant seeing it in a
theater at a discounted price. And, we even get Val Kilmer in a
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard