Directed by Ron Howard, or, better known as, “He Who Used To Play Richie Cunningham”.
A mother of two (Cate Blanchett), who works as a “healer” while caring for a farm in the middle of New Mexico, gets her life shaken-up a bit when her oldest daughter is kidnapped by a bunch of ruthless, savage Native Americans. Distraught as hell, she calls on her estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) to help, even though they don’t get along quite so well. But what does make their advantage seem a little better is that the father is actually part-Native American himself and knows all the ways, code, and language of the Indian ways. Problem is, these Indians he’s dealing with here are bastards, and nothing but.
Sounds like a pretty simple premise, right? Well, add Ron Howard as director to the mix, hot-off the block of his Best Director Oscar for A Beautiful Mind and you think you’d have a keeper, right? Sadly to say: Not at all. That’s a huge, huge problem too, which all stems from the fact that Howard himself indulges way too much into this material. I honestly don’t mind it when a flick is deliberately slow, in order to tell it’s story and set the pace for what’s next to come, but this was just a tad bit ridiculous here. I mean, the actual kidnapping of the gal that goes “missing”, doesn’t even occur until about 30 minutes in and by that time, my ass was already checking out at the door. Then I realized: Shit, I had about 2 more hours left of this crap. That’s when things got bad.
Or should I say, “real bad”.
I’m all for when a story wants to set up an idea, run around with it, see how long it can milk it for, and eventually build on it by the end, almost to the point of where I feel like it can’t go on any longer or else the whole idea itself is just going to crack. Basically, if that last sentence didn’t make any sense to you; well, good. The idea of a movie is to have an idea that lasts so long throughout a movie that not only do you stop paying attention to it, but you forget that it’s even there in the first place. So many directors are perfect at working with this same attitude in their minds and hearts, that even they too, don’t realize the idea they are coming up with in their head. Where I’m getting at with all of this jibber-joo is that Ron Howard definitely seems to have an idea here, but he doesn’t go anywhere with it at all. Instead, he just continues to hammer it and hammer it down into the ground, almost as if we won’t catch on to the fact that the movie itself is built on nothing else but a repetitive idea that these Indians are bad folks, and should not be messed with.
Some may see this as not your normal Western, mainly because even though the villains are the Indians, the hero itself is also part-Native American, but Howard doesn’t do anything with that aspect of the movie and just keeps it going and going at such a snail’s pace, that I began to lose interest many, many times. Seriously, as I’ve stated before: I don’t mind when a flick wants to set it’s story up for all to get accustom to, but this was just way too little, for way too long of a time-limit. Thankfully, I didn’t see the Extended Cut of this movie that’s apparently out there, but lord knows that if I did, I would have given up and thrown my copy right out the window, as soon as humanly possible.
But some out there may think that I’m being too harsh on a movie because it “has one idea”, “repetitive”, and “slow”, but there’s more to it than just that. Take for instance, the “villains” themselves: the Indians. Not only are the Indians in this flick a bunch of evil, sadistic sons of bitches, but none of them at all seem to have an ounce of humanity or heart within them. I get it, most Indians at and around this time were probably pissed off that they were continuing to get their land taken away from them by the dumb-ass white man, but they’re so detestable here, that it’s almost over-the-top, as if I was watching a bunch of cartoon Indians in a Loony Tunes cartoon. The leader of the pack, El Brujo, is so insane and blood-thirsty, that it was a surprise to me that the dude ever made a business selling these young girls away in the first place, because he always seems like he can’t keep his head on straight, or keep his hands away from his mallet that he so firmly insists on using.
The whole movie plays out like this and I do have to give Howard some credit for at least not backing-down and making a soft, sensational Western that appealed to all members of the juror. This is a downright bloody, disgusting, and off-putting Western that takes all that you know about good-taste, and shoves it right back in your face, but not without spitting in your general direction either. Never thought I’d say that about a film from Ron Howard’s hands, but I was surprised. However, the gruesome violence doesn’t help the film all that much either, and gives it this odd, uneven tone where one second, somebody will be getting their heart eaten-out, and then the next second, a daddy and a daughter will be reconnecting over lost time. Howard doesn’t really seem to know what sort of movie he’s making here, or what he’s trying to say, so instead decides to have the two sides battle-it-out and see which one can distract the audience more.
Nobody wins, not even the cast in that general aspect either. Tommy Lee Jones probably gets off the easiest as the tough and rugged daddy-figure that’s as mean and cruel as you can get, but yet, also has a bit of a soft, spiritual side to him as well. Jones has this sense of comfort to the way he acts, so it’s not hard to feel safe and in control of the situation whenever he’s around, but that hair. Seriously, what the fuck was up with that!??! Not only does he look like a long, lost hippie that somehow got trapped way before Woodstock (the original, not “RapeStock”) and didn’t no how to get back to the end of the 60’s. He looks goofy, but the film plays it off with such a serious look, it’s almost too hard to even get by when he’s on the screen. Cate Blanchett is okay as his daughter, even if she doesn’t get to do much and is only called on to hold a gun, shoot it, and thrown some dirt and blood on her face for good, old times sake. Must have been fun for them, because it sure as hell wasn’t fun for me.
Consensus: Howard deserves an ounce of credit for giving a disheartening version of the old school Western, but that’s a very small ounce when you take into consideration the uneven tone, the shallowly-written characters, and the fact that nothing happens for the longest time in The Missing, and you’ll be wondering where all of the time you had in your day went.
2 / 10 = Crapola!!