review by Bobby Blakey
Over the years I have felt that the found footage aspect kind of ran its course, but more recently there have been a few films that found some interesting things to do with it. The latest Searching from first time feature director Aneesh Chaganty starring John Cho and Debra Messing. Could this missing persons thriller offer up the mystery and intrigue using this style of filmmaking or should it have been the missing person?
Searching follows David Kim whose 16-year-old daughter goes missing, prompting a local investigation opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter's laptop. In a hyper-modern thriller told via the technology devices we use every day to communicate, David must trace his daughter's digital footprints before she disappears forever. I thought the trailers to this film looked interesting, but admit that I thought it didn’t look overly original. Thankfully I was wrong and this movie delivers on all levels.
First is its star John Cho who has been around for a long time scoring franchises with Harold and Kumar as well as the reboot Star Trek franchise, but I do not remember him fully getting to lead the charge as of yet. This may not seem like a big deal to most, but with the latest push to Asian performers finally getting some much deserved respect this is yet another in a great stepping stone and he delivers all the way. He brings all the emotion and realism to the role needed for you to really buy into what he is both feeling and dealing with. There was way more depth to the character than I had expected in this sort of film and that is due to Cho himself. You get the entire family’s back story without feeling rushed or forced and in turn you feel and understand everything he is going through. Messing is good in the role and brings her own depth to the role, but this is Cho’s film all the way.
The use of the technology is a familiar place, but they use so many platforms here to perfection you really feel like you are seeing a real case unfold. The use
of so many different things to tell the story including social media, search engines, Face-time, Skype, surveillance cameras, street cameras, drones, news cameras and so much more helped to give this a unique feel without ever feeling bogged down. They never went into the horrible shaky cam footage often a part of this genre made me so happy as it tends to make the film unwatchable. Here these elements are just as much characters as the actors themselves to tell the story. There are numerous interesting twists and turns right up until the end all brought together by a compelling film that is relatable and interesting from beginning to end.
I loved this film way more than I had expected and hope that it is a new direction for these kinds of films. I also hope this is going to get Cho more films to headline on his own as he does a great job carrying the film and I have no doubt has so much more to show us despite being in the industry for so long already.