Release Year: 2003
Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Ken Kaufman (screenplay), Thomas Eidson (based on his 1996 novel The Last Ride)
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones, Evan Rachel Wood, Jenna Boyd, Aaron Eckhart, Val Kilmer, Sergio Calderón, Eric Schweig, Steve Reevis, Jay Tavare, Simon Baker, Ray McKinnon, Clint Howard
Rating: Nominated for 3 Saturn Awards: Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film, Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Performance by a Younger Actor (Jenna Boyd).
An estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to reconcile the broken relationship to his estranged daughter (Cate Blanchett) to no avail, but when his granddaughter is kidnapped by an Apache brujo father and daughter form and uneasy alliance to get her back.
Considering that Ron Howard has a history when it comes to the western genre (see for example The Shootist, 1976) one could have been forgiven for hoping that he would have done a straight out example of the genre, something that happens all too rarely these days. However, the film is both a family drama, a western, an action adventure movie, and a supernatural thriller. That would have made a strong cocktail if only it had been mixed well enough, but Howard seems to change his mind about what kind of film he is making a couple of times along the way. This makes several scenes feel out of the place (the supernatural element, for instance, could have been done away with completely to the film’s benefit). The story is a gripping one, the classic tale of two at odds with each other who rally together to save a loved one. Here it isn’t played for comedy though. In fact, the film is unnecessarily brutal and its main villain is grotesquely unappealing. But The Missing’s saving grace is strong performances, especially from Jones and Blanchett, but also from the young Boyd (The Hunted, 2003). Recommended for fans of great acting and brutal frontier westerns.
Tommy Lee Jones and Eric Schweig learned a bit of Chiricahua Apache for the film. Their instructor was one of only three remaining fluent speakers.
Picture Copyright: Sony