Searching is a modern tale of online safety and the necessity for further protection for those who fall victim to online predators. It’s also about building relationships in person with friends and family and loved ones rather than through a screen. But while the film delves into some horrible though more than likely true stories, it really isn’t that well made. There are points of absolute boredom that will leave you searching your own phone. And when the final and greatest twist comes, it’s a rush job to get the film to the end. But in between these boring and rushed jobs is some good acting and a somewhat good story line.
David Kim (John Cho) missed a number of calls from his daughter, Margot (Michelle La), in the middle of the night. The next day he goes about his business not thinking anything of it. That is until he starts to grow concerned as she hasn’t been answering any of his texts or calls. And when he finally realises she’s gone missing things start to take a horrible turn.
With the help of the police, David works with Detective Vik (Debra Messing) to figure out what happened to Margot. As the case slowly unravels and David is asked to cease assisting the investigation, he makes the biggest discovery in finding his daughter.
Herein lies the problem with Searching. It’s one of the worst efforts in wrapping up a film. The entire film feels like it is building to something, only to plateau. Then it builds again to deliver its final twist. And once the twist has happened, Searching starts to tie up all its loose ends and with a nice ribbon in what feels like five seconds. The greatest strength leading up to the finale was the fact that this film could end very differently than how you would hope it to. Everyone likes a happy ending, but sometimes there has to be some dramatic license.
Comedian and surprisingly talented dramatic actor John Cho (Harold and Kumar, Star Trek, Identity Theif) plays father come investigator David Kim. Cho absolutely shines as a lovely and lost father. Sometimes it’s hard to see past actors’ previous roles, however Cho gave such a worthy and realistic performance it was easy to see past his Harold and Kumar persona. One of the great things about Cho being cast in this role is the fact he could bring some comedy with small yet perfectly timed and delivered lines that has the audience laughing.
Helping solve the crime for her own benefit is Detective Vik played by Debra Messing (Will and Grace, The Wedding Date, The Mysteries of Laura). Again, another casting decision for a comedian to play a dramatic role. And again, it completely works. It’s an absolute contrast to Messing’s Grace role from Will and Grace, but she switches it on all too easily. Her butch motherly persona is at times frightening and all the time completely believable. Sadly, the script fails Messing after the major twist in that her character almost flat lines any sense of arch or personality.
Searching is creative in that the entire film is watched through a mobile phone, webcam, security camera or a news report. It’s clever and different and at first interesting to watch. But eventually the interest of watching someone searching online becomes rather boring.
There’s no sound as they scroll through the internet doing their online banking. There are points within the film where the simple act of scrolling through photos becomes so uninteresting that a number of people turned to their own phones in the cinema for a fix of entertainment. It might also have something to do with the fact that everyone is on their phones in the film, it reminds you that you should probably check your own phone.
Overall Searching has a great concept and for the most part is executed nicely. However, it completely and utterly fails with its ending as the story weakens and feels rushed. For those who enjoy a happy ending, this would fall nicely into that category. But for anyone who wants more meat to chew in their cinematic experience, sadly you’ll be searching for a little more.
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