Let me say upfront that I am sure most people will not agree with my review of The Missing. If the star rating system on Netflix is any indication (and it always is), people think this film is wonderful…or maybe it would be less of an exaggeration to say that people “like” this film and find it adequate. The people have spoken, I know, this film is supposedly above average. But I will let the cat out of the bag here– I didn’t like the movie. Now, my stunning powers of deduction would lead me to believe one of the following: (1) I am not a person. If people like it, and I don’t; therefore, how could I be a people? (2) The people are wrong. And I am right. End of story. (But this doesn’t really seem like me. I am pretty considerate of other people’s ideas…. maybe too much so). (3) Netflix made an error in calculating the rankings. No!! Well, I feel bad even saying that out loud. I know that can’t be right. Netflix is about as infallible as they come in my book. Or (4), I am a cranky reviewer. Sigh, my keen powers of deduction are hinting that option four is the most likely. I suppose step one is admitting I have a problem—or could I just admit that The Missing has a problem and say we are even?
The Missing (directed by Ron Howard) stars Cate Blanchett as Maggie, a healer living on a ranch in New Mexico with her two daughters. Because they live in the “wild West” and the story seems far from original, her oldest daughter and several other women are abducted by Native Americans. It is up to Maggie and her estranged father (played by Tommy Lee Jones), to track and free the captives. As with any self-respecting western film, there are several shoot-outs, horses that whinny, pistols that go “pew pew,” and wide landscape shots.
Sure, some may argue that this has the right ingredients for an awesome film: an all star cast, a capable director, an epic story, and inner turmoil; but it just didn’t sit well with me. Admittedly, I watched it all the way to the end, so it is probably not as bad as I make it out to be (because there are some movies I just can’t finish); but I guess I expected more. My first indication that I might find the film sub-par was the opening scene. We are introduced to our heroic Maggie, as her child walks in on her using the outhouse. Maggie is literally sitting on the crapper. What a way to make a first impression.
I thought the story was annoying. It was extremely formulaic, and I was actually becoming upset by the end. So, a group of Native Americans, led by a crazed, blood-thirsty medicine man, kidnap women from their homesteads on the New Mexico frontier. I’m sorry, but this seems a little early 20th Century to me. Come on, it’s two thousand-fricking-ten (well, it was two thousand-fricking-three when they made the movie). Can’t someone come up with a different Western than this? It really seemed like the tale was straight out of a dime novel, but it’s based on a story that was written in 1995. What I wanted was a retelling of a Western (hey, it’s possible, look at Firefly), what I got was a regurgitation of the same old story (a story that is extremely biased—one that omits and overlooks the atrocities also committed by the settlers and the military). I just find that frustrating and sad.
I realize I can focus on a small detail and let that ruin a movie for me (I still can’t get over the fact that Bob Hoskins was cast as Noriega….), and most likely that is what happened here. I am sure the acting was decent (although I swear Jones picked up and dropped his accent too many times to keep track of), the landscapes beautiful, and the fight scenes well choreographed; but I just found myself disliking the film. Trust me, I try to check my brain at the door when I watch a movie, but this one just did not work for me. Maybe I should have stopped once I saw Maggie on the john—my opinion of the film did not change in the following two and a half hours.
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