Searching 人肉搜尋 (2018) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
To call “Searching” one of the best internet crime thrillers is probably an understatement as it is the best Hollywood crime thriller in years. Clever, intriguing and haunting are words that comes to mind to describe this John Cho starring film. As another successful Asian American film (other being “Crazy Rich Asians”), it shows that we have a lot of stories to tell and the intelligent manner that director Aneesh Chaganty portray through the use of cameras, computers screens, FaceTime and webcams makes it feel extremely invasive and even haunting. We now live in the BitCoin era and with everything being online and monitored in one way or another, “Searching” serve as a timely reminder of both the pitfalls and convenience of technology and the lasting impact of our lives.
John Cho gives his best ever performance in a commanding lead role. Cho balances protective nature of fatherhood and inner turmoil of losing his wife to cancer and failure to deal with a grieving and struggling teenage daughter. Through various camera angles and computer shots, we see Cho go through the tensions, frustrations and self-blame as he deals with his missing daughter. Michelle La is excellent as the missing daughter and utterly convincing in her saved video live cast where she portrays raw emotions. The weak spot goes to Debra Messing who plays detective and key investigator as she constantly overacts.
All in all, “Searching” shows the strength and importance of an original plot line and how to use technology and social media to discern a message and frame a thriller. When the audience expect a twist, we don’t get it, and it comes when we least expect it to without a hint of prediction. That’s the beauty of this film as we are totally engaged like following the latest story on social media or live cast. It is a smart and good film from start to finish and that’s a great achievement.
I rated it 9/10