MISSING & THE OLD WAY Review: The Curse of the January Movies Lifted?
Sometimes you might get the impression that I've gone soft because I tend to mostly post positive reviews. The main reason is that I take no pleasure in dragging a movie down through the dirt. I have the utmost respect for filmmakers and the crew that put hundreds of hours into making a movie, so if I dislike the movie I tend to avoid negative bashing. This week's review is a double-feature with a movie I didn't like, THE OLD WAY, a western starring Nicolas Cage, and another one I did like, the successful sequel to Searching, called Missing. Let's get the bad out of the way first.
THE OLD WAY
I have an obsessive behavior with Nicolas Cage movies. Even though I don't love them all, I try to watch them all. That's why I decided to give THE OLD WAY a shot because I'm a big fan of westerns and there was a probability it could be fun while going in with reasonable expectations. The bad news is that it truly felt like a January release in all the worst way possible. I didn't hate the film but I was disappointed by the squandered potential there.
Synopsis: “An old gunslinger and his daughter must face the consequences of his past, when the son of a man he murdered years ago arrives to take his revenge.”
The Old Way is tonally all over the place. It doesn't know what movie it wants to be. At first, it was slightly entertaining to watch, thanks in part to the ever-dedicated Nicolas Cage, but it becomes problematic after a while. Unfortunately, it’s a forgettable and messy western with wooden acting and two-dimensional characters. I’m not saying this to be funny but it felt in some parts like a movie made by an AI, like a movie within a movie straight out of Tropic Thunder. There are some good in it but that just wasn’t enough for me even though it should've been.
Initial Score: 5/10
The Old Way is now available on VOD and limited theatres.
After seeing M3GAN earlier this month, I was starting to wonder if we can finally stop treating January like a dumping ground for movies. The next one on the menu was the sequel to 2018's Searching, directed by Aneesh Chaganty, that made $75 million on a budget of $800,000. This meant a sequel was very likely to be made, and this is what we got with Missing, starring Storm Reid. The film uses a similar technique where all the scenes are shot from screen recordings, and I was curious about where the story was going to go this time around.
Synopsis: "After her mother goes missing, a young woman tries to find her from home, using tools available to her online."
Just like its predecessor, Missing is creating a nail-biting mystery that will leave true crime fanatics on the edge of their seats while using inventive editing techniques to tell the story through our modern technology. Storm Reid was excellent in this sequel and she basically carries this film with the editing team. Both Searching and Missing are equally impressive in terms of filmmaking achievement. It's impressive that they created such an entertaining film based on screen recordings using cellphones, computers and security cameras.
Without revealing anything, there is a shot in the film that use the famous "Dolly Zoom" on the screen of her laptop and I thought it was brilliantly done. It's just an example of how creative and effective this concept is. I'm not usually one to point out plot holes or trying to predict a movie but I had some issues with the screenplay on that level. However overall I had a blast with the different twists and turns, this story goes into different directions and it's wildly entertaining.
It's a great companion to 2018's Searching and it improves on it on a technical level. As I mentioned a couple of times already, I was highly impressed by how this movie was assembled in post-production. Solid transitions, fast-paced editing, and the multiple storytelling techniques they used make it a creative success. I had some minor issues with the story, and maybe there might have been one twist too many, but it was a nice trip to the cinema. Is the curse of the January movies lifted? Maybe not at 100%, but this has been a surprisingly solid month of January for movies.
Initial Score: 7.5/10
Missing starts playing in cinemas on January 20th 2023.