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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Last Ride

The Missing (2003) on IMDb

Plot Overview

New Mexico, 1885. Medicine woman Maggie Gilkeson (Cate Blanchett) extracts the last remaining tooth from a less than willing, aged grand­mother. Maggie's own lamented loss as a girl was of her father Samuel Jones (Tommy Lee Jones) who went Indian. She has never forgiven him.

When marauding renegades snatch her 15-year-old daughter Lilly (Evan Rachel Wood,) and neither sheriff nor cavalry make recovering her a priority, Maggie is forced to enlist the aid of her old man (“It takes an Apache to catch an Apache.”) Maggie's strong Christian faith is pitted against the black magic of “el brujo” (the witch) Chidin (Eric Schweig.) Her Christian standing has perhaps been compromised by her carrying on with ranch hand Brake Baldwin (Aaron Eckhart.) Her bitterness against her dad cannot have helped win God's favor, either.


Bible in handThere's an uncommon amount of the Bible being read out loud in this picture, using familiar texts from the King James Version (KJV.) It's set in the year 1885, a watershed year for Bible trans­lations. Historian George F. Willison describes the birthing of the KJV: “Acting upon the Millenary Petition, the king called the Hampton Court Conference early in 1604. … ¶The conference achieved next to nothing in the way of reform though it incidentally accomplished … authorization of a new translation of the Bible …, eventuating seven years later in the King James Version, one of the towering monuments in our literature, a poetic master­piece that has colored the thought and speech of the English-speaking world more than three centuries” (46–52).

It's still widely regarded, though the English tried to do it one better. Bible collector Donald L. Blake writes: “The Revised Version was completed in 1885 and later included the American edition's [American Standard Version] 1901 revisions. … Scholars embraced the [English] Revised Version, but the general public clung to the established and familiar King James Version. … ¶Those who support the superiority of the 1611 King James Version … over other versions … bear witness to its enduring legacy as England's most famous literary achievement” (220).

In “The Missing” Maggie's daughter Lilly—evidently the product of a rape—is described as “dainty.” She saddles up and sets off on a fate­ful trip to the World's Fair so she can witness the “World of Tomorrow” that includes a working grapho­phone: a device that allows one to hear her own voice played back to her. Lilly, from a deleted scene, is also interested in fashions from London and Paris. She is sewing her own from pictures in a catalogue, though her mother—and we—wonder where she would ever wear them here in untamed New Mexico. Her captor, el brujo, feeds her dirt and tells her that's what the rest of her life will taste like. Seems like an object lesson from, (1Tim. 5:6) “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”

Her grandfather for his part could be an object lesson of, (1Tim. 5:8) “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Indians, i.e. infidels, are portrayed as very low status in this movie, and even they use derogatory expressions—comemierda—to describe this man who skipped out on his family.

Production Values

” (2003) was directed by Ron Howard. Ken Kaufman adapted its screen­play from Thomas Eidson's novel, The Last Ride. It stars Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Eric Schweig, and Evan Rachel Wood. Cate Blanchett gives a strong per­for­mance. Tommy Lee Jones looks the part and manifests well his Indian impersonated character. Evan Rachel Wood is good as a damsel in distress. Eric Schwieg is one truly frightening Indian witch. Keep in mind that in such a rough setting, there isn't much call for character develop­ment through dialogue. Care was taken to make the Indians realistic as opposed to Hollywood fanciful.

MPAA rated it R for violence. (The solitary sex scene in it is shot fully clothed, at a distance, and relegated to brief foot­age in one of the deleted scenes.) Various modern contraptions (for 1885) are included as product placement. Do go out and buy the latest. It's well photo­graphed by cinema­tog­rapher Salvatore Totino who captured power­fully striking scenery. The music score is fulsome, the script is good mostly, and the mysticism was an added bonus.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

If you don't mind seeing some violence in a violent west, then “The Missing” is a worthy western that dramatizes family love and conflict under an umbrella of prayer and faith. It's inter­generational in its unfolding. For animal lovers, some horses do get frightened and one gets wounded. For the purist some of the pictures taken on the trail of the “merchan­dise” in transit to Mexico could pass for child pornography under its broadest definition. It's a good action picture for Western aficionados.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, Print.

Blake, Donald L. A Visual History of the King James Bible. Grand Rapids: BakerBooks, 2011. Print.

Willison, George F. Saints and Strangers. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1945. Print.