The Missing

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Rating: R

Starring:
Tommy Lee Jones as Samuel Jones
Cate Blanchett as Maggie Gilkeson
Evan Rachel Wood as Lily Gilkeson
Jenna Boyd as Dot Gilkeson
Aaron Eckhart as Brake Baldwin
Val Kilmer as Lieutenant
Sergio Calderón as Emiliano
Eric Schweig as Chidin
Steve Reevis as Two Stone
Jay Tavare as Kayitah
Simon Baker as Honesco
Ray McKinnon as Russell J. Wintick
Max Perlich as Isaac Edgerly
Ramon Frank as Grummond
Deryle J. Lujan as Naazhaao (Hunter)

Special Features:
Theatrical trailer

11 deleted scenes

Three alternate endings

Outtakes

Featurettes: The Last Ride: The Story of The Missing, New Frontiers: Making The Missing, The Modern Western Score, Casting The Missing, Apache Language School

Ron Howard on: Home Movies, John Wayne, Editing, The Filmmaking Process, His Love for Westerns, Conventions of Westerns

Ron Howard’s home movies: The Deed of Daring Do, Cards Cads Guns Gore and Death, Old Paint

Photo galleries

Other Info:
Anamorphic Widescreen (2.40:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language Track
English and French Subtitles
Running Time: 137 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film is based on the novel “The Last Ride” by Thomas Eidson.

In 1885, Maggie Gilkeson is a single mother and a doctor out on the American frontier. When her older daughter is kidnapped by rogue Indians, she must turn to her estranged father, Samuel Jones, in order to save her. Jones abandoned Maggie at an early age in order to live a Native American lifestyle. Despite hating the man for abandoning her, Maggie must rely on his unique skills to track the kidnappers. They must stop them before they reach Mexico or they risk never finding the girl again.

The Missing is rated R for violence.

The Movie:
As a big fan of Ron Howard, Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, and composer James Horner, I was very eager to see The Missing. It was yet another film I missed in theaters, so I was glad to see it finally arrive on DVD. I knew it was going to be a dark movie, but I wasn’t prepared for just how dark it ended up being. From the opening scene where an old woman’s tooth is pulled to the kidnapping of the girls, this movie makes you squirm in your seat. The movie plays on your deepest fears. A young daughter is kidnapped, loved ones are murdered, a baby dies, and more. Howard even plays on the fear of snakes. All of that makes this Western thriller a bit difficult to get through.

All of the performances are excellent. Cate Blanchett goes from elf queen to frontier woman with incredible ease. She’s tough, independent, and no-nonsense. Blanchett also shows herself to be an expert on the horse and with guns, all the while raising two young girls. She’s quite the heroine in this film. Supporting her is Tommy Lee Jones as her estranged father. Jones projects the Native American persona well. He’s also one of the few people tough enough to convincingly play Blanchett’s father. The two young girls, Jenna Boyd and Evan Rachael Wood, are also excellent and show acting professionalism well beyond their years. Val Kilmer and Aaron Eckhart also have significant secondary roles in the movie.

The scenery in the film is beautiful. New Mexico makes a great location for this Western. The unpredictable weather helps add to the sense of helplessness and danger. It makes the rough frontier life even more convincing. I’m also a huge fan of composer James Horner. While he does a pretty good job with the score for The Missing, it’s not nearly his best work.

In the end, The Missing is not your typical Ron Howard film. It is dark, intense, and mentally draining. Throw on top of that the fact that the movie is almost 2 ½ hours long and you have a demanding movie experience. I really think the film could have been a bit shorter and it would have helped the pace, but this is what Howard wanted. In any case, you might want to think carefully before diving into it.

The Extras:
This 2 disc DVD set has quite a few extras included on it.:

11 deleted scenes – The deleted scenes included on this DVD are better than those on many other movies. They show a bit more excitement and help develop the characters a little more than your typical deleted scenes. One shows Jones shooting a mountain lion that attacks Maggie’s cattle. This quickly shows how tough he is. Another scene shows Jones asking about Maggie’s brother, the son he never knew. It shows some regret on his part for leaving his family. Another scene shows Lily trying to talk to her mother about fashion, thus further showing how little they have in common. Overall, it’s a nice set of deleted scenes worth checking out. I can’t imagine how long the first cut of the movie was if these were deleted.

Three alternate endings – Though it lists three alternate endings, there’s really only one, and it’s only a slight variation from the one in the final film. In this we see the remaining Apaches hanging around a bit longer after their leader is killed. Maggie holds them off through the morning, then goes to find her father still barely alive. He asks her to bury him at her home, and then he dies. As you can see, it’s only slightly different from the original. These minor differences are thrown in with a ton of ending footage from the movie, so it makes this “alternate ending” seem a lot longer than it really is. The other two endings are only marginally different from this.

Outtakes – This is a short blooper reel showing Blanchett and other actors misfiring guns, messing up with the horses, and more. It’s funny to see after the seriousness of the movie.

Featurettes: The Last Ride: The Story of The Missing, New Frontiers: Making The Missing, The Modern Western Score, Casting The Missing, Apache Language School – These are your typical “making of” documentaries. However, they are significantly more in-depth than usual. They talk about the origins of the script, filming in New Mexico, casting, and more. All of the cast and crew talk extensively about their roles while behind the scenes footage rolls. James Horner is also highlighted as well as the Native Americans who coached the actors in the Apache language. It’s all very well put together.

Ron Howard on: Home Movies, John Wayne, Editing, The Filmmaking Process, His Love for Westerns, Conventions of Westerns – Ron Howard discusses all of these subjects to varying degrees. It gives you a good idea of his philosophy behind filmmaking as well as a snapshot of his interesting background. Filmmaking students should be interested in what he has to say.

Ron Howard’s home movies: The Deed of Daring Do, Cards Cads Guns Gore and Death, Old Paint – It turns out that The Missing isn’t Ron Howard’s first Western. In this feature, Ron Howard shows some of his old high school movies that he made so many years ago. Howard roped his family and friends into the movies and he submitted them to competitions. They’re funny to watch and an interesting footnote to this remarkable director’s career.

The Bottom Line:
The Missing is a very dark film. You don’t want to watch it when you’re looking for something more lighthearted. Fans of Blanchett and Jones should be happy with their performances.

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