Sunday, 18 March 2012

Review: MISSING, 1.1 – "Pilot"

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Liam Neeson Ashley Judd plays a retired CIA agent whose teenage daughter son is abducted while on a backpacking holiday summer internship in Paris Rome. Yes, it's patently obvious that ABC's mid-season spy drama Missing owes a huge debt to 2008's sleeper hit Taken, with the similarities being so stark I'm wondering if a lawsuit's being prepared. This show will probably only escape court action because, well, Taken itself wasn't the first movie to put a former spook's family in jeopardy.

Choosing to ignore the rip-off that's taken place, whether creator Gregory Poirier will ever admit to it or not, Missing's pilot is one of those fast-paced and competent experiences that doesn't totally dazzle or get your blood pumping. It goes through the motions well enough, and Judd makes for an effective ass-kicker in the Jason Bourne mould (she even uses domestic weapons, like a coat hanger, to disarm baddies). Indeed, when it's not copying Taken this show's other inspiration is the estimable Bourne movies—as there's also a crack team of CIA agents trying to stop Rebecca Winstone (Judd) from continuing her one-woman search/rampage across Europe, led by quietly sympathetic Deputy Chief Dax Miller (Cliff Curtis). The reason she doesn't seek their help finding Michael (Nick Eversman) is that Rebecca's husband Paul (Sean Bean) was killed in a car-bombing 10 years ago, and since then she's learned to "trust no one".

This pilot certainly has a sense of urgency and is competently directed by Stephen Shill (Dexter), Judd feels like a good female action lead. (It's about time she left the dying embers of her film career to cool and move into TV, too.) The production also doesn't cheat viewers through bluescreen, with genuine location work taking place in both Rome and Paris. The mystery about why Rebecca's 18-year-old son has been taken, a decade after her husband was murdered, is also fairly intriguing... but is it captivating enough to sustain viewers over a whole season, and perhaps even longer? We'll have to see how things develop, although it doesn't help that Michael gets kidnapped before you've formed any connection with his character.

While I have doubts over Missing's longevity, an initial half-season commitment feels very wise on ABC's part. I personally hope the story is concluded this series and, if the show has proven to be a hit, returns with a different ten-part abduction case next year.

written by Gregory Poirier / directed by Stephen Shill / 15 March 2012 / ABC