Searching: John Cho - the first Asian actor leading a Hollywood thriller

Review: John Cho equals Ford and Neeson in the ‘What have you done with my wife/daughter?’ stakes

John Cho stars in Screen Gems’ thriller Searching.

Film Title: Searching

Director: Aneesh Chaganty

Starring: John Cho, Debra Messing, Michelle La, Sara Sohn

Genre: Thriller

Running Time: 102 min

Fri, Aug 31, 2018, 05:00

   

Can it really be true? That Searching makes John Cho the first Asian actor leading a Hollywood thriller? If so, then it’s about time. Throughout this nifty picture, Cho is easily the equal of Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson in the “What have you done with my wife/daughter?” stakes, as he moves through fraught, agitated, heartbroken, demented and desperate states of mind.

Following on the unlovely Unfriended: Dark Web, this is the second and superior film this month to be “set entirely on a computer screen” with super-producer Timur Bekmambetov attached. The Alfred P Sloan Prize-winning screenplay by Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian manages some dazzling sleights of hand to make the concept work. Video chats, social media accounts, Gmail and even online pop-ups are crafted into a convincingly cinematic thriller.

One has to applaud the sheer chutzpah of updating Rear Window through the medium of Google Search

In an overture that recalls the devastating opening of Pixar’s Up, home videos introduce Margot Kim (Michelle La) and her parents David (John Cho) and mother Pamela (Sarah Sohn). Within minutes we’ve watched the 15-year-old Margot grow up and we’ve seen her mother succumb to lymphoma.

Understandably alarmed

The overprotective David now keeps tabs on his daughter through video chats and is understandably alarmed when he discovers that he has missed several calls from her in the middle of the night. More troublingly, Margot has left her laptop at home and hasn’t shown up for her piano lessons in months. Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) is soon on the case, but the more she digs, the more it looks like David didn’t really know his daughter at all.

 Twists and turns ensue. Perhaps, indeed, one too many. Still, one has to applaud the sheer chutzpah of updating Rear Window through the medium of Google Search. Against all odds – thanks to some dazzling cuts by editors Will Merrick and Nick Johnson and nifty directing from former Google commercials maker, Aneesh Chaganty – the gimmickry just about scans, the thrills keep coming, and the whodunit is a guaranteed surprise.

 Search out Searching.