Missing is a thriller film with a complex plot and a climactic ending. It is directed by Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick, who also co-wrote the screenplay. It is a follow-up to the 2018 film Searching, starring John Cho. Missing explores the theme of technology and its role in finding missing persons.
The film centers on a teenager who uses various digital tools to track down her mother, who vanished on a trip with her new boyfriend. The film reveals that the boyfriend, Kevin Lin, was hired by June’s father, James, to lure her mother, Grace Allen, away from her.
James, who was presumed dead by his family, had been released from prison two years ago for assault and drug possession charges. He devised a twisted scheme to kidnap his wife and reunite with his daughter.
1. Why did Kevin target Grace Allen?
Kevin Lin was a deceptive character who targeted Grace Allen with a meticulous plan to rob her and make her disappear. He was a former fraudster who used different identities to swindle people.
He devised the plan two years before the events of Missing, while he was in prison with James, Grace’s husband, who was believed to be dead. James was incarcerated for assault and drug possession.
Kevin’s motive was to get revenge on Grace and to get money and a new start in Colombia. He was indifferent to James’s desire to see his daughter June again, which was the main reason for the plan.
He exploited his skills of manipulation and persuasion to make Grace trust him. Grace was just a tool in his scheme, and he only cared about his own interests.
2. James’s Involvement in Grace’s Kidnapping
The revelation that James is the orchestrator of Grace’s abduction is the most surprising twist in the film. Missing succeeds in keeping the audience in suspense because they do not expect it.
However, there are some subtle hints at the beginning of the film that suggest James is the brains behind Kevin’s scheme. In the opening scene, Grace — who is initially mistaken for June — is editing a video of James and June together, cutting out a segment and saving it for her daughter.
The edited video implies that there are hidden details, but the film distracts the audience by making Grace look like a possible accomplice in her own kidnapping.
The first scene also shows a file about aneurysms and meningioma, which reveals that Grace was preparing to fake James’ “death” before changing her name secretly.
Perhaps the most obvious clue is when June contacts “Jimmy,” a member of the Holy Father Ministries who vouches for Kevin even after June finds out he is a fraudster. Jimmy is, of course, a diminutive form of James, indicating that Missing’s clues were always visible to the audience.
3. Why Grace Changed Her & June’s Last Name After James’s Arrest
Grace secretly altered her and June’s surname after she reported James to the police for drug possession and assault. She wanted to prevent him from finding them when he was released from prison. James was a violent man, and Grace feared that he would harm her and June if he could locate them easily.
Moreover, Grace wanted to shield June from the reality of who her father was. June had a positive image of him as a loving father, a gentle man who played games with her. That’s why Grace tried so hard to preserve those happy memories of him, even if it meant jeopardizing her own relationship with her daughter.
4. How ‘Missing’ Connects to its Prequel ‘Searching’
Missing features a fictional Netflix series called Unfiction, which resembles the streaming service’s many true crime shows like Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.
At the beginning of Missing, June is watching one of Unfiction’s seasons, which covers the case of Margot Kim, who audiences will recognize from Searching, and her father, David Kim’s efforts to locate her.
June is also browsing articles about the accuracy of the series, with a photo of John Cho’s David Kim and the actor portraying him in Unfiction. Since Missing is a separate sequel, Unfiction is a smart and original way to link it to Searching.
5. Rachel Page’s Role in the Incident
Rachel Page is a bartender and an aspiring actress who was chosen by Kevin. However, Rachel was not unaware of the plot. She knew that she had to pretend to be Nia Long’s character, using her passport to enter Colombia, wearing her clothes, etc.
Rachel consented to be part of the con because she was convinced that Kevin would offer her a big opportunity, and she fell for his lie that he was filming a movie on his iPhone and wanted her to be the lead. Rachel’s acceptance of the plan reveals her egotism and self-absorption, eager to be in the limelight despite Kevin’s dubious actions.
6. Heather Damore’s Involvement & Death in the Kidnapping
Heather Damore, Grace’s lawyer, persuaded Grace to date Kevin, but it was because she was under duress from him and James. Heather was willing to keep silent and pretend that everything was fine, but she was only murdered by James when he realized June was getting closer to the truth about Grace’s name change.
If Heather had survived, June could have accessed her computer or questioned her about Grace’s history. James could not allow that or jeopardize his entire Missing scheme.
7. How ‘Missing’ Differs from Typical True Crime Stories
Many true crime docuseries and podcasts focus on serial killers. Missing, however, depicts an adult who was abducted by her husband instead of a stranger.
Missing’s James was not a serial killer who had a specific preference. Rather, he was motivated by vengeance against his wife, which challenges viewers’ assumptions about true crime-related stories.
Moreover, the thriller shifts its attention to domestic abuse and the trauma it causes to someone, as well as the measures one will take to protect themselves and their child from an abusive spouse/father. Missing plays with audience expectations while simultaneously undermining them.
8. The Use of Technology in Finding Missing Persons
Missing highlights the role of technology in tracking and locating someone who is kidnapped. The thriller implies that technological innovations, such as surveillance systems, are essential — despite the invasion of privacy — because they can be a decisive factor in a missing persons case.
Missing demonstrates June’s use of technology to hack or even communicate with someone across borders as a valuable skill. Unlike other films centered on technology, like M3GAN, Missing does not suggest that too much of it is harmful or a threat to humanity.
Rather, it is beneficial and necessary, especially in the most perilous situations. Missing is not a warning but a showcase of technology’s most remarkable abilities.
9. About Missing
Missing is a 2023 American screenlife thriller film written and directed by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson (in their feature directorial debuts) from a story by Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chaganty, who also produced the film with Natalie Qasabian.
The film is a standalone sequel to Searching (2018). It stars Storm Reid, Joaquim de Almeida, Ken Leung, Amy Landecker, Daniel Henney, and Nia Long. Its plot follows June Allen, a teenager who tries to find her missing mother after she disappears on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend.