FILM UNFILTERED - ‘Searching’ a technological thriller for the new generation

FILM UNFILTERED - ‘Searching’ a technological thriller for the new generation

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It has become increasingly harder to put out a viable thriller these days. The youth market’s attention is harder to hold, and unless it’s a 90-minute comedy romp or a fast-paced action movie with little plot, they fade fast, especially in this age of nonstop technology and screens in our faces.

That’s why something like the new movie “Searching” is a great combination of our devotion to our technology and the secrets we all seemingly keep there.

John Cho plays David, who is panicked and distraught when his daughter, Margot (Michelle La), goes missing, as any parent would be. After more than a day of frenzied activity in the hopes of finding her and no solid leads arising, David ventures down the rabbit hole that is her laptop. I actually found this amusing since not many teens utilize laptops (except maybe for school purposes) and do most of their internet browsing and social activity on their phones.

David seeks out the help of a committed detective named Vick, played by Debra Messing. Together they begin trying to unravel the mystery of what happened to his daughter. One of the very interesting aspects of the film is how the technology almost becomes a character in the film rather than a tool or device. Of course, in reality we are so enamored with our phones and people get so obsessed over obtaining “likes” and cultivating their digital self.

Cho is a great actor and he is especially sturdy here. He balances that perfect level of fatherly concern, anger and distrust at the internet and his rapport with Vick. Messing’s Vick is a great detective and not close to her TV persona from “Will & Grace.” Michelle La as Margot is good as well, with much of her story being told through videos and other footage they find on social media.

What I particularly enjoyed about this film is how it reinvents the thriller in modern Hollywood. While Hitchcock was the master of suspenseful and nail-biting thrillers, nowadays, the genre has really taken a backseat to big budget action films or superhero fare. That’s not to imply those films are bad, as you cannot turn a blind eye to the billion-dollar receipts they bring in. But like last year’s “Baby Driver,” which had a comparatively small budget but was a wildly exciting film, “Searching” won’t be pulling in huge opening weekends, however you will walk out questioning perhaps what your kids are doing on their devices.

Cho and La also have some great chemistry in their relationship. He conveys the feelings that many fathers have in regards to their daughters. I know how he feels as my own daughter is growing up and I often find myself hounding her about how much time she spends online or the degree to which she shares personal information. Plus, as an overprotective dad, I am also watching out for her safety not only from potential suitors nearby but also of the more nefarious and stealthy ones lurking in the vast wild west of the internet.

Director Aneesh Chaganty has presented a viable and creepy thriller for the digital age.

Rated PG13.

John Cho plays David, a distraught father searching for his daughter, in the new thriller “Searching.”