Technology, along with social media, has changed our way of life. Friends are no longer kept in phone books, plans are no longer scheduled on little notebooks and pictures are no longer kept on photo albums. For most people, our lives are now fully laid out within the world wide web, whether we like it or not.
Searching looks to tap into this change by telling an old fashioned cautionary tale in a refreshing setting. The story follows David Kim (John Cho) as he investigates the disappearance of his 16 year old daughter. Just by reading this very bare minimum plot synopsis, we can safely say that the movie offers nothing new from a story perspective as we have seen this being done time and again on more action oriented films such as Taken to thrillers as Gone Girl with varying degrees of success.
The biggest difference, as well as its greatest strength, is on how it’s told, implementing the cinematic language “Screenlife”, taking its name after the fact that the film is told entirely from the perspective of computer screens. Although this may seem like a very gimmicky presentation – and I’m sure it will come to be that way one day just as it happened with the “found footage” genre after it was done to death following the success of Paranormal Activity – Searching has at the very least a few things going for it besides being one of the first in its genre.
A tight and tense script is lifted by the magnificent performance of leading man Cho, as he is the absolute center and focus, present in almost all scenes. The actor, who hadn’t previously had too many chances to prove his dramatic side, provides a flawed character playing a father who only wishes the best for his daughter but isn’t always doing the best at communicating that, with potentially deadly results.
Also of note is Debra Messing, playing the detective investigating David’s case, going against type as a smart, tough and driven ally.
The fun and charm, so to speak, comes from the “screenlife” presentation, which makes you a direct part of the action, looking for clues alongside David about his daughter’s whereabouts, heightening the tension and forcing you to pay close attention to every visible detail on the screen.
Despite its great use of the method in which the story is told, there are some pretty big leaps of logic taken towards its conclusion and your final enjoyment may depend on how much your suspension of belief can be stretched. Although I had no problems with it as I was completely involved by the events unfolding and the way it’s handled, the group of friends I was with gave more than one audible groan during the climax.
If you like a tightly paced and relentless thriller with a great lead performance, this Hitchcockian thriller for the social media age and millennial audience should more than scratch that itch, as the movie proves that there’s always a new way to tell an old tale.
Score: 16 Google searches