The only thing better than one Tatyana Ali is two.
She did double duty on Vanished: Searching For My Sister, playing total opposite twins Kayla and Jada.
Although, she won’t be giving another Tatiana (Maslany) a run for her money just yet because we rarely got to see her embody missing twin Kayla.
Vanished was one of those films where the cast was pretty stellar, but the script itself was lacking.
Jada was a frustrating protagonist whose actions became increasingly senseless and confounding as the film progressed.
Our lack of significant exposure to Kayla (since they didn’t opt for anything close to a flashback until they revealed her murder) was disappointing and detracted from the movie.
It’s no doubt that Ali is capable of playing the twins, and we saw as much in those opening moments of the film. But she didn’t get to put those skills to use.
Instead, we got Jada impersonating her sister, poorly at that, and going to the same club over and over again to find out more information about her sister’s actions and possible whereabouts.
The information and details Jada attempted to get about what happened at Roger’s party seemed to drag on for days.
And with each passing second of Jada’s unconvincing portrayal of her sister with shady bearded guy lurking and casting her sinister looks, you held your breath, waiting for the inevitable moment when she’d face death.
Maybe Jada had valid reasons for feeling like the detectives weren’t trying hard enough to solve this missing person case. However, her recklessness was so grating that you simply wanted her to let the professionals handle it.
By the end of the film, any headway she made got overshadowed by how she nearly tanked their case against Warren when they did figure out it was him because she couldn’t leave well enough alone.
Jada’s search took her to the dark underbelly of Kayla’s club life, exposing her to the side of her sister that made things nerve-wracking at best.
Kayla’s “friends” were a troubling brood of addicts, dealers, and some unsavory types.
It was vastly different than the life Jada led, at least from what we could see of it. I still don’t feel we settled into who Jada was as an individual before we jumped into this investigation.
And Warren was suspicious from the start. I mean, the husband is always the first suspect, right?
He toggled between disgust by Kayla and her reputation as a party girl to hung up on her.
He never expressed the type of concern for Kayla’s absence, instead quick to dismiss it as her going on another bender like the “screw-up” she was.
And it was bizarre how he just left Olivia with Jada, never once attempting to spend time with his daughter when he should’ve suspected her mother’s absence took a toll on her.
It made his phone call with his mother and expression of relocating to another state and taking her with him feel disingenuous.
At some point, we knew the man wasn’t clocking in all those shifts at the firehouse. Hell, he damn near fell out of his truck drunk. Warren was a hot mess, and he was one of the first to introduce the narrative that Kayla was dead.
His initial position as someone who loved an addict and grew apart from her would’ve made him somewhat sympathetic. The film didn’t avoid acknowledging the struggles of caring about an addict and the pitfalls of how easy it is to scapegoat addiction when something happens to one.
You could see that he and Jada both struggled with some of Kayla’s lifestyle choices and past actions and indulgences.
But even he grew harsher in his language and how he regarded Kayla because of her past. It made you wonder how the two of them ever got together in the first place.
When we met Kayla, she seemed to be grappling with her divorce from Warren. Part of her did come across as if she was relieved to be free of him.
Once we saw that darker side to Warren, it was easy to see why and how Kayla probably fed her addiction as a form of escape from her controlling husband.
His series of lies kept adding up until Jada was finally able to get the truth out of him.
What exactly was she thinking if she assumed he murdered her sister, but she went to his home pretending to be her? Was he supposed to believe he was having a drunken hallucination or something?
And after everything she learned about Detective Hill and the repeated warning from both detectives, she still went there anyway. Wouldn’t it have been evident that she was seeking a confession?
The second she and Tyrell found that bloody mattress and alerted the authorities, she should’ve sat back and watched them build the case.
The detectives were right. The whole point was to get Warren on something so that it stuck and he wouldn’t get off on technicalities and things they couldn’t prove.
It was grating when they arrested him after Jada broke into his house and confronted him. He was such a smug bastard in that interrogation room, and Bruening plays bad so well.
But Hill and Nichols didn’t have anything to hold him on and sure as heck didn’t have enough to charge him with Kayla’s murder.
Shockingly, Warren would’ve gotten away with everything if he didn’t randomly decide he wanted his daughter after all this time and broke into Jada’s house to kill her and take Olivia.
The man got away with murder; you would think he’d be more intelligent than that. And how godawful was it that he resorted to choking Jada out when he knew the kids were upstairs?
His poor traumatized daughter had already lost her mother, and now she saw her father trying to kill her aunt.
Even then, Warren could’ve served his time and gotten out quicker than he deserved, but he couldn’t let it go. The hit he placed on Jada, knowing she’s the woman taking care of his child, was gobsmacking.
If that prisoner hadn’t snitched on him, Jada would be dead, too. And for what? Warren can rot.
The best thing that came out of the situation was that Jada and Tyrell got their relationship back on track and could be a happy family with the girls.
Tyrell was criminally underused, but then again, much of the cast was for most of the film. Treach’s appearance as a bad guy who wanted his money felt like some filler to pad the investigation.
And speaking of the investigation, it’s a pity we didn’t spend more time with Hill and Nichols as they investigated the case. We only saw them when Jada would storm into the precinct with new information or during their questioning of Warren in the end.
Hill’s background as this older queer woman of color who refuses to retire because she can’t give up the notion that she’ll one day find her missing wife of 15 years is compelling and makes her a fascinating character of them all.
Never mind the fact that the iconic Jasmine Guy is playing her — I could’ve watched an entire film about Hill, alone.
Do you know how much grit and determination it takes for both Hill and Nichols to be badass partners with years of the job under their belts? They’re two middle-aged, hard-broiled, kickass women in a male field. Icons in the making, that’s what they were.
Guy and Hennesy were total scene-stealers throughout this movie. They had terrific chemistry, too. I walked away wishing with all my might that those two could have a spinoff or a series or something!
They could be a 21st Century Cagney & Lacey. Lifetime is tailor-made for a series about two badass women investigating murders. True Crime and anything close to it is all the rage. Please give it to me!!!
Over to you, Lifetime Fanatics! What did you think of this one? Hit those comments below!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.