||Director Ron Howard, who impressed audiences with BACKDRAFT (1991) and A BEAUTIFUL MIND (2001), has outdone himself with THE MISSING, a wrenching family drama that unfolds in the midst of a classic 1880s Western. This extraordinarily beautiful film offers astounding panoramic photography and inspired performances that enrich a truly hair-raising journey. As ever, Cate Blanchett brings intense realism to the role of Maggie Gilkeson, a New Mexico cattle rancher who dabbles in the healing arts. Her long-estranged father Samuel Jones (Tommy Lee Jones) is mistaken for an Indian when he inexplicably shows up on her property hoping for reconciliation; he abandoned his family years earlier to adopt a Native American identity. An embittered Maggie sends him away, but capitulates when her eldest daughter Lilly (Evan Rachel Wood) is kidnapped by a band of psychotic Apache killers. When the local sheriff and the U.S. Army balk at chasing the perpetrators, a desperate Maggie turns to her father, praying he is sufficiently savvy in tribal ways to save her daughter.^Blanchett and Jones clearly own this movie, and are both superb. Wunderkind child actor Jenna Boyd is spectacular as Maggie's youngest daughter, Dot. Also noteworthy are a brief but poignant cameo by Val Kilmer as an apathetic Army general and a skin-crawling appearance by Eric Schweig as Chidin, the outlaw leader.