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Kin Movie Review

Kin (2018) movie poster Kin

Theatrical Release: August 31, 2018 / Running Time: 102 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Directors: Jonathan Baker, Josh Baker / Writers: Daniel Casey (screenplay); Jonathan Baker, Josh Baker (short film Bag Man)

Cast: Myles Truitt (Eli Solinski), Jack Reynor (Jimmy Solinski), Dennis Quaid (Hal Solinski), Zoë Kravitz (Milly), James Franco (Taylor Balik), Carrie Coon (Morgan Hunter), Romano Orzari (Lee Jacobs), Ian Matthews (Snick), Gavin Fox (Dutch Balik), Stephane Garneau-Monten (Remy), Lukas Penar (Big Man), Carleigh Beverly (Audrey), Lily Gao (Female Cleaner), Michael B. Jordan (Male Cleaner)

 

Kin opens with a medium-sized explosion occurring in a vacant warehouse in downtown Detroit. It is there that our young protagonist, 14-year-old Elijah (newcomer Myles Truitt), will discover and obtain a large, powerful ray gun.
That acquisition features later and partially drives the plot of this sci-fi action film from directors Jonathan and Josh Baker expanding upon their 2014 short film Bag Man.

Before exploring that otherworldly weapon, the film first establishes the home life of Eli Solinski, who has been getting some phone calls from school and even earns a suspension for reasons never made clear. The punishment does not sit well with Hal (Dennis Quaid), Eli's hardworking, recently widowed father, who is also troubled to learn his adopted teenager has been stealing scraps from worksites and reselling them for pennies on the pound.

But Eli's disappointments are minor compared to those of older brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor), who returns home after serving six years in prison for theft. Jimmy now owes $60,000 to Taylor Balik (James Franco), whose bad haircut and cringey neck tattoos establish him as the seedy villain of the piece. Tay and his associates, who apparently protected Jimmy in prison, offer no patience or payment plans when it comes to collecting the young man's debt.

In "Kin", big brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) has a small gun, while little brother Eli (Myles Truitt) has a big, powerful ray gun.

Jimmy sees robbing his father's company's work safe as the only way out of his pickle, but when Dad catches him in the act, it simply sets up...a brother road trip to Lake Tahoe, in which Jimmy and Elijah are on the run from a Tay who's eager to settle his score.

Eventually Eli reveals his intimidating weapon that can disintegrate humans and put holes in walls. But not before he and his big brother hit up a strip club, befriend a dancer (Zoë Kravitz), and run afoul her unfriendly boss. While our hero group expands to three, we also get occasional glimpses at the masked...people?...who are in pursuit of Eli's big gun and hopefully might shed light on its mysterious nature.

Kin is an oddity on paper. This marks the first feature for the Baker brothers and yet this original tale has attracted a good amount of proven talent, including Franco, who hasn't been drawn to a supporting role in mainstream action since the Spider-Man trilogy so long ago; Quaid; and a surprise eleventh hour cameo you can spoil for yourself in the cast credits above. Those three stand out behind seasoned young actors like Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Sing Street) and Kravitz (Divergent, Mad Max: Fury Road) who feel more at home in a teen-friendly Summit Entertainment genre production.

As the villain Taylor Balik, James Franco sports a bad hairdo, ill-fitting sweaters, and neck tatoos.

Kin has the feel of YA, but not a popular source text, which makes it a hard sell, even on the final Friday of the summer movie season when competition is always thin. On paper and in trailer form, this has the makings of an epic fail, but the final product warrants a more measured reaction. Yes, a lot of the movie hedges on deception
and there's a great chance you're not as sympathetic towards Jimmy as the movie is. Elijah, meanwhile, is an underwritten character whose reluctant heroism stems from reaction.

Though untested before at feature length, the Bakers have some pretty good instincts and give the film some unexpected artistic flair. The screenplay by the young, not terribly experienced Daniel Casey is too on the nose at times, but acquits itself with some ideas and substance. With stronger or more likable characters, Kin could have maybe flirted with cult classic status. Instead, it ends up being consistently diverting, which is better than you might expect coming in.

Although it's the more accessible of this week's two seeming late-August dumps, Kin will most likely struggle to find an audience on a weekend when Warner Bros. Pictures' well-performing Crazy Rich Asians and The Meg will continue to hold the top two slots at the box office for a third consecutive weekend.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Searching • Alpha The Darkest Minds • Operation Finale • Juliet, Naked • The Little Stranger
Ready Player One • Chronicle • Nerve • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets • Chappie
James Franco: Spider-Man 2 • Spider-Man 3 | Zoe Kravitz: Divergent • After Earth • Mad Max: Fury Road
Jack Reynor: Transformers: Age of Extinction • Free Fire • Detroit | Dennis Quaid: Innerspace • Gang Related

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Reviewed August 29, 2018.



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