Directed by Ron Howard, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Evan Rachel Wood, Jenna Boyd, Aaron Eckhart, Val Kilmer, Sergio Calderón, Eric Schweig, Steve Reevis and Jay Tavare.

'The Missing' takes us back to the bleak wilderness of 1885 America, where mother-of-two Maggie Gilkeson (Blanchett) is struggling to cope. Devoid of any comfort and falling on very hard times, Maggie works as a healer to earn enough to support herself and her daughters, Lilly (Wood) and Dot (Boyd).

While the younger Dot is happy to help her troubled mother farm the land and pray with patients, the teenage Lilly has outgrown life in the wilds and is weary of having to do without. Wrapped in a rut of labour, each mundane day offers little hope of change for the Gilkesons.

But a day working in the high, rough ground with the cattle changes everyone's destinies. As Maggie waits in vain for her children to return with the hired hands at nightfall, a terrible scenario has unfolded in the woodland, where the group have been ambushed by Indians with the most sinister of missions. When only one riderless horse returns, Maggie sets off in search of the girls, only to be confronted by a scene of slaughter.

When she learns that her eldest daughter Lilly has been captured by the evil Pesh-Chidin (Schweig), there is only one person that Maggie can turn to for help, and he is the last person she wants to admit a weakness to. Having abandoned his family many years earlier, Maggie's father, Jones (Lee-Jones), ran with the Apache and learnt their ways. Now he may be her last chance to out-smart the Indian chief with deep mystical powers - before he crosses the Mexican border with Lilly and she is lost forever.

The strained relationship between Jones and Maggie forms much of the focus after this, although the hunt for Lilly is where the 'action' loosely lies. Blanchett's versatility is undoubtedly evident, although little else about this production will set you alight. Jenna Boyd is an exception as the little Dot with the big personality and strength of character beyond her years. But to classify 'The Missing' within the horror/thriller genre would be stretching it. Pesh-Chidin's makeup is about as daunting as it gets.

This won't scare you. Chances are it probably won't entertain you all that much either.

Linda McGee