After David Kim (John Cho)’s 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter’s laptop. In a hyper-modern thriller told via the technology devices we use every day to communicate, David must trace his daughter’s digital footprints before she disappears forever.
Searching is a movie that takes place entirely on a computer screen, and while this gimmick isn’t exactly new, it hasn’t been used quite to this effectiveness yet. Movies like this can work, but they need one thing: an outstanding performance. John Cho is entirely game here, and elevates this movie to one of the best thrillers of the year.
The one word I would use to describe Searching is “wise.” It wisely uses a story that people are familiar with: a father struggling to find his missing daughter and pairs it with the computer screen gimmick. Other films like the Unfriended movies for example use conventional horror tropes to add on to the completely computer screen effect. Searching however, relies heavily on realism. It feels like something that could actually happen. Searching shows a different side of the typical child abducted story that is relevant to today’s times. Cho’s character spends the majority of the film learning about his daughters online life that he was not aware of before she was missing. Cho’s performance is so good that you can see the emotional toll that this takes on him.
John Cho absolutely carries this film, not because the rest of it is that bad, but because it is absolutely necessary that he does. It is entirely from his point of view and you feel like you are experiencing the twists and turns of the story with him. There are plenty of twists to go around as well. This is actually a pretty thrilling story in its own right and when you pair that with the digital aspect of the film they make a near perfect pair.
Going into this film I was expecting a decently well made thriller, but what I got was what I consider to be one of the best movies of 2018. John Cho gives an absolute tour-de-force performance. This defiantly a level above the other films that have used this gimmick in the past. Don’t miss this one.