The Missing (2003)

Rating: B

Dir: Ron Howard
Star: Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones, Eric Schweig, Jenna Boyd 

Not quite as mystical and horror-oriented as the trailers had me believe, this is still a solid Western – supposedly inspired by John Ford’s The Searchers, though I can’t comment on that. Jones is a surprisingly decent pseudo-Indian, the long-absent father of Blanchett’s rancher, who returns just in time to assist when her daughter (his grand-daughter) is abducted by a motley bunch intent on selling her to Mexicans. You know how the relationship side of things will go, father and daughter gradually growing to understand each other, but the performances are easily decent enough to overcome the feeling that we’ve seen this before. There are also a number of effective and creepy moments, including one which had the lady next to us emitting a shriek that had our eardrums ringing for the rest of the day.

Harder to overcome is the feeling that Jones could play this kind of character blindfold; for the second time in this week’s reviews (see also The Hunted), he plays a wilderness tracker. Though we wonder what supposedly experienced native would go through slot canyons in the rainy season; the results were entirely as expected, and I spent the first 34 years of my life in canyon-free Britain. Chuck in cameos from Ron’s brother Clint and, more surprisingly, Val Kilmer, and the film it reminded me most of is, bizarrely, Finding Nemo. Parent leaves home in search of kidnapped child, finds unlikely allies, and discovers truth about him/herself. Hardly any jokes though, and in this case, probably a good thing too.