The Missing Person movie poster
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The Missing Person movie poster

The Missing Person Movie Review

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My first clear memories of Michael Shannon the actor are from Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. In my review of that movie, without referring to him by name, I said I "would love to see him cut from the movie entirely." Needless to say, I didn't like him. Then came Revolutionary Road, where I said he "steals the show," and that's a movie that featured Oscar-worthy performances from Kate Winslett and Leonardo DiCaprio. In The Missing Person, a noir mystery thriller, Shannon continues to prove he's a force to be reckoned with, and the movie isn't half-bad, either.

Shannon plays John Rosow, an alcoholic private investigator who gets a call in the middle of the night from a mysterious stranger, offering him a lot of money to tail a guy named John Fullmer. He boards a train and tracks him cross country, only to learn that he's gotten in way over his head. As it turns out, Fulllmer is one of the thousands presumed missing after 9/11, but that's only the beginning of the dilemma Rosow faces.

The film is, on the surface, a mystery thriller, and writer/director Noah Buschel does a good job of playing homage to the noir films of old, without making the production feel stale. Unfortunately, while the plot is compelling, those expecting a more nefarious climax will be disappointed because, at its heart, The Missing Person is more a character study of Rosow than anything else.

That's where Shannon comes in. Shannon, not an especially handsome man, embodies his character perfectly; he's flawed in many ways, but he's a fine detective and knows it. In fact, his confidence is what often drives Rosow down the wrong path, but Shannon mumbles, smirks and talks his way through each turn, both wholly aware of his problems while conveniently ignorant of them as well. This isn't Shannon's best performance, but it's still another stellar one from the actor.

Beyond Shannon's performance, The Missing Person is just good, not great. Again, the mystery doesn't amount to as much as first thought; Buschel makes the conscious decision to focus on the drama rather than a significant reveal at the end. Unfortunately, the result is that the final act feels like a betrayal of its noir qualities; it doesn't live up to expectations.

The Missing Person is a perfectly fine and well-acted movie, but there's nothing about it - besides Shannon's performance - that is particularly memorable. Still, it's a worthwhile drama that will appeal to some audiences.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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