Review by C.J. Bunce
It’s difficult to pinpoint the fine line between a run-of-the-mill, contemporary real-life drama and a good thriller. If it’s dry and boring, we give it the label of “drama” and are happy to skip over it. But if it has a mystery or action component and something special, then we sometimes take a closer look. Case in point: The Starz British-produced mini-series The Missing, which was just renewed for a second season. The “something special” is a handful of actors we’ve seen in great genre film and TV.
If you can get past the dreary sounding plot–a real-life drama about the kidnapping of a British boy vacationing with his parents in France–you’re in for a compelling suspense-thriller on par with the best police procedurals, like the BBC’s Zen or the original Law and Order.
Another British mini-series, Broadchurch, repackaged for U.S. audiences as Gracepoint, had much in common with The Missing, at least on paper. Broadchurch starred Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Arthur Darvill, and Attack the Block and Marchlands’ Jodie Whitaker and also followed a crime about a little boy in a small community. The Missing features two actors who starred as dwarves in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit series, James Nesbitt, who played Bofur, and Ken Stott, who played Balin. Mr. Selfridge and Timeline’s versatile actress Frances O’Connor plays the mother of the missing son, wife to Nesbitt’s determined and grim father. A similar crime and genre actors are where the similarities end. Where Broadchurch settled in as a passable melodrama, The Missing becomes a rich, engrossing, addictive tour of a place no one would want to go in real life.