The Missing

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This article is about the 2003 Columbia Pictures film. For the 2014 TV series, see The Missing (TV series). For other uses, see Missing.
The Missing
Missing ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ron Howard
Produced by Brian Grazer
Ron Howard
Daniel Ostroff
Written by Ken Kaufman
Based on The Last Ride 
by Thomas Eidson
Starring Tommy Lee Jones
Cate Blanchett
Evan Rachel Wood
Jenna Boyd
Aaron Eckhart
Val Kilmer
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Salvatore Totino
Edited by Daniel P. Hanley
Mike Hill
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • November 26, 2003 (2003-11-26)
Running time
137 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million
Box office $38,364,277[2]

The Missing is a 2003 American Revisionist Western thriller film directed by Ron Howard, based on Thomas Eidson's 1996 novel The Last Ride. The film is set in 1885 New Mexico Territory is notable for the authentic use of the Apache language by various actors, some of whom spent long hours studying it.[3] The film was produced by Revolution Studios, Imagine Entertainment, and Daniel Ostroff Productions and distributed by Columbia Pictures.[4][5]


In late 19th-century New Mexico, Samuel Jones reappears hoping to reconcile with his adult daughter Maggie Gilkeson. She is unable to forgive him for abandoning the family and leaving her mother to a hard life and early death. This situation changes when Pesh-Chidin and a dozen of his followers (who have left the reservation) pass through the area, ritualistically killing settlers and taking their daughters to be sold into slavery in Mexico. Among those captured is Maggie's eldest daughter, Lilly. Maggie's rancher boyfriend Brake Baldwin was among the settlers killed.

The U.S. Cavalry refuses to help retrieve the captive women as its resources are tied up conducting forced relocation of captive Native Americans. This leaves Maggie, her father, and her younger daughter Dot alone in tracking the attackers. The group unexpectedly meets up with Kayitah, a Chiricahua, and an old friend of Jones, who also happens to be tracking the attackers with his son Honesco, because among the captives is a young Chiricahua woman who is engaged to Honesco. After the two agree to join the group, and Maggie treats Honesco's injuries, Kayitah informs Maggie that Jones had been a member of their Chiricahua band where he gained the name Chaa-duu-ba-its-iidan (“s*** for luck”) during his wanderings.

It is finally with the combined efforts of the two families that they are able to free the women, at the cost of Kayitah's life, and immediately flee to the mountains with the kidnappers behind them. Knowing they have no other choice but to stand their ground, the group fights off the remaining kidnappers including Two Stone. During the battle, Jones fights El Brujo, the one responsible for kidnapping his granddaughter. When Brujo attempts to kill Maggie with a shotgun, Jones sacrifices his life to save his daughter as both he and Brujo fall off a cliff to their deaths. Maggie shoots at the last remaining kidnappers to scare them off. She realizes her father's love for her and finally forgives him.



The film earned mixed reviews from critics, earning it a 58% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with one critic calling it: "an expertly acted and directed Western. But like other Ron Howard features, the movie is hardly subtle."[6] Philip French of The Observer referred to the film as Howard’s "finest film to date,"[7] and Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune called it the "best and toughest western since Unforgiven." [8]

The Missing was well received among Native American populations within the United States, many of which citing the use of the Apache language to be clearly spoken and well understood.[3] Characters such as Tommy Lee Jones, Jay Tavare, Simon R. Baker, and others had to learn to speak a dialect of the Apache language called Chiricahua that was used throughout the film.[9] Tavare has noted that there are only about 300 people still fluent in Chiricahua today, and following screenings of the film, Native American students said the film helped stimulate pride through its authenticity.[3]

The Missing grossed $27,011,180 domestically and $11,353,097 internationally for a worldwide total of $38,364,277[2] on a $60 million budget.


  1. ^ "THE MISSING (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2003-11-10. Retrieved 2012-12-22. 
  2. ^ a b The Missing at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b c Richard Benke (December 18, 2003). "Apaches laud accuracy in 'The Missing' movie". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Missing (2003)". New York Times. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  5. ^ "The Missing (2003)". IMDB. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Missing (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  7. ^ Phillip French (February 28, 2004). "New lessons from the Old West". The Observer. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  8. ^ Michael Wilmington (November 24, 2003). "Movie review: 'The Missing'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  9. ^ Phil Konstantin (September 2004). "Phil Konstantin's Review of The Missing". Retrieved July 25, 2014. 

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