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Movie Review: “Searching”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Searching

Theatrical Release: 8/31/2018

Theatrical Release: 8/31/2018

Synopsis

The Kims were a happy family, but everything changed when Pamela (Sarah Sohn) was diagnosed with cancer. Pamela was David‘s (John Cho) wife and Margot’s (Michelle La) mother, and after she passed away, David and Margot tried to continue on, but doing so has not been easy. One night, when Margot does not return from a study group, David knows that something has happened to her. He knows his daughter, and he knows it is not like her to stay out all night without letting him know, so he calls the police.

Detective Vick (Debra Messing) is quickly assigned to the case, and she reaches out to David so that she can learn more about his daughter. After their meeting, Detective Vick tasks David with reaching out to Margot’s fellow students and their parents. The hope is that David will learn more about what was going on the night that Margot disappeared. David ends up finding out that his daughter had a very secretive life. He learns that he did not know Margot as well as he thought, but no matter how many secrets he uncovers, he will not stop searching until he knows what happened to his daughter.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Unpredictable (+10pts)

The Gimmick (-2pts)

The Clues (+4pts)

The Climax (-3pts)

The Plot (+6pts)

The Brother (-2pts)

movie-review-searching

Pro: Unpredictable (+10pts)

After seeing the trailer for this movie, it seemed like the trailer gave away the whole thing. From the trailer, we knew Margot would go missing, and that she would initially be assumed to have been innocent, but we also knew that David would learn she had a secret life that he did not know about. The trailer leads you to be leave she was innocent, then that she might have had something to do with her own disappearance. It was disappointing to see all of this in the trailer, because I felt like it spoiled the movie.

Fortunately, the movie had so many unpredictable twists and turns. The trailer really only showed the beginning, and it was like viewing the story through a keyhole. Once I opened the door and actually watched the movie, the story kept me guessing and I honestly had no idea what would happen next. This movie was an unpredictable thrill-ride that had my attention locked to the screen in anticipation of every next big reveal. I assumed this would be a predictable plot, but I was pleasantly surprised to get plot twist after plot twist—most of which I did not see coming.

movie-review-searching

Con: The Gimmick (-2pts)

Most people going into this movie will be wondering if the gimmick would get too distracting and if it would limit the manner in which the filmmakers could tell the story, and I was certainly one of those people. The entire movie was told from the point of view of computer screens. It was as if someone did all this research, but was using a screen grab tool that recorded the entire thing. I went into the movie skeptical, but had an open mind. After having seen the movie, I was relieved to find out that the filmmakers were not limited by this at all. At points, the audience will even forget about the whole gimmick and will be caught up in the story. That being said, I cannot help but wonder why the filmmakers needed to use this gimmick at all.

The filmmakers used various circumstances to make the audience forget about the gimmick. David video messaged Detective Vick, he watched the news by going to news websites, he setup cameras only to watch the recordings later on his computer, and he even watched viral YouTube videos pertaining to the case. For the most part, I thought the filmmakers succeeded in getting around the limitations of the gimmick, but it seemed like more trouble than it was worth, and it even seemed silly at times. I mean, can you imagine if your daughter went missing and the lead Detective decided to mostly communicate with you via video message? I know we are well into the age of the internet and all, but come on. There were more instances of ridiculous things that the characters did, all with the sole purpose of getting around the movie’s gimmick. The filmmakers basically had a completely unnecessary gimmick, and then clearly had to put a lot of effort into getting around the limitations of it.

movie-review-searching

Pro: The Clues (+4pts)

The final plot twist seemed to come out of nowhere, but the surprise was made even greater when you think about all the clues that were dropped throughout the movie. There were a few of them, and while they were subtle, they were always there, right under the viewer’s nose. It was one of those movies that will make you want to rewatch it once you know how it ends, because you will want to see all the subtle hints that were thrown in the story. The final reveal was surprising, but I got the impression that the filmmakers had a lot of fun scattering little clues throughout the story. This will make repeat viewings equally entertaining, and more importantly, it made the final reveal pretty impactful, as I had no idea this twist was coming, despite the many hints to it.

movie-review-searching

Con: The Climax (-3pts)

While the final reveal was certainly shocking, the discovery of Margot’s fate honestly felt pretty anti-climactic. You will have to see the movie to find out what her fate was, but the whole thing was shown to the audience as a news clip from the point of view of the computer screen. Due to this, we did not get any audio from David when he learned his daughter’s fate. We just heard news anchors talking about it and watched David reacting to it. I am not saying that the scene had no impact with the audience, but I felt like it was missing something and I did not think it lived up to the build up from the rest of the movie.

movie-review-searching

Pro: The Plot (+6pts)

The plot was so good because it was so simple. The death of a mother drives a wedge in the day-to-day relationship between father and daughter. Then, the daughter goes missing and the father has to uncover her secrets in order to learn the truth. The passing of his wife, and then the disappearance of his daughter, will make audiences automatically sympathize with David. The movie hooked the audience with the sympathy they would feel toward David, then kept the audience on the edge of their seats as the mystery progressed, because we did not want to see this guy lose everything. The plot had a gripping and simple premise, a main character that audiences will naturally sympathize with, and had a compelling mystery that will keep audiences guessing. What more can you ask for?

movie-review-searching

Con: The Brother (-2pts)

There were a lot of exciting twists and turns in this plot, but the brother plot twist was far from one of the exciting ones. The whole thing left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth and it had me wishing the filmmakers had spent more time focusing on something else. I do not want to get into details to avoid spoilers, but this whole thing would have worked if the character was David’s friend. It would have still been creepy, but it would have been more believable. However, by making the character David’s brother, the filmmakers made it too easy for me to be skeptical of David’s theory, and it made me not buy that David would come to the theory he came to so quickly. This made the scene between the two characters pretty awkward and made it feel like forced drama.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-searching

Grade: B+ (88pts)

Searching seemed like the kind of gimmicky movie that would be watchable at best, but I could not have been more wrong. The filmmakers made it so that you forget about the gimmick altogether, as you will be too caught up in the mystery to care about it. However, this made me wonder why they gave the movie this gimmick in the first place. I know for a fact it turned off some potential viewers, I know after having seen the movie that the story could have been told just as effectively—if not more so—without it, and it felt like the filmmakers spent a lot of time and effort trying to get around the limitations of the gimmick, making the whole thing seem like more trouble than it was worth.

The best part of this movie was the plot. It had a simple premise that was easy to get invested in, and it was full of twists and turns that will keep audiences gasping and on the edge of their seats. The plot twists were frequent and audiences will only see a few of them coming. One plot twist that I did not see coming at all, was the final plot twist, despite the many clues to it that the filmmakers dropped throughout the movie. This was the kind of movie that was riveting to watch, and there is value in repeat viewings, as one could get some extra satisfaction by trying to spot all the clues that the filmmakers sprinkled in there. If you were debating whether or not to watch this movie, then I suggest you give it a shot. The mystery was done well enough to get me to look past the weird gimmick, as it was a thrill-ride that had me fixed to the screen from start to finish.

Comments

Movie Whisperer from Moreton Bay, Queensland on October 04, 2018:

I really liked this!

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