Sunday, November 30, 2003

The Missing (IMDB) (Netflix)
Cate Blanchett is a Wild West frontier doctor with two daughters and no use for for her long-absent father (Tommy Lee Jones), who ran off to hang with the Native Americans years back. He's ostensibly returned for some doctoring and Cate's none too happy about seeing him. When one of her girls is kidnapped by slave-trading renegades, however, she needs his help, and thus is launched a story reminiscent of John Ford's classic The Searchers and the more recent The Last of the Mohicans. Directed by Ron Howard and featuring the least attractive Native American (Eric Schweig) seen in motion pictures, as the evil medicine man.

This is a tough one to assess—on a technical level, all the elements are there, and I was absorbed in the story as it unfolded, but nothing stuck to my ribs afterwards. Even though little is spared in terms of writing, well-portrayed characters, photography or violent action, it just doesn't have the "Searchers'" epic quality, nor "Mohicans'" sleek beauty and passion. It's not a failure, though, and absent the tough comparisons a reasonable pick for its empowered female lead and great scenery.