Film Review – Kin
Not every Science Fiction movie has to be a monumentally Earth shaking affair with all of humanity on the line. And not every movie has to be a tent pole to a multipart franchise that sprouts 14 sequels, 2 spinoffs, 3 prequels, and a TV show. Sometimes it’s nice to see an original property featuring a plot, that while not completely original, is something new. Using Sci-Fi as a framework on which to hang a compelling story about brothers reconnecting and familial issues is a nice change of pace. The new movie Kin does just that.
Newcomer Myles Truitt stars as Eli, the adopted son of hard ass older father and widower Hal as played by Dennis Quaid. Hal is tough on his son because the world is a tough place. But mainly he’s trying to make up for mistakes he felt he made with his older son Jimmy (Jack Reynor) who is just getting out of jail after a 6-year sentence for robbery. Hal thinks Jimmy is no good and begrudgingly lets him stay in his home when he is first released.
Meanwhile Eli, while exploring an abandoned building in the neighborhood, discovers a futuristic weapon. He doesn’t know how it works or what it does, but it acts like a rifle of some kind. He smuggles it home secretly. But quickly a couple of armored aliens are on the trail of the missing weapon.
While this is happening, Jimmy finds that he owes a large sum of money to a grungy gangster played by James Franco. A gang kept him safe in jail and Jimmy owes for it. As expected, Jimmy gets on the wrong side of the gangster, a tragedy ensues, he scoops up Eli, and goes on the run. He lies to his little brother about the reasons for the trip. Eli brings some clothes and the weapon along as they head out West. So both the gangsters and the aliens are on the hunt for these brothers.
This movie is smart enough to at least mildly point out the parallels in one scene when Eli is playing a Terminator video game. No, this isn’t the most original plot. But it’s compelling to watch these estranged brothers reconnect and bond. Reynor and Truitt are a likeable pair. The one frustrating bit is that the older sibling makes such colossally stupid decisions. It’s how he got thrown in jail in the first place. But he keeps making bad decisions all throughout the film. They are on the run, so keeping a low profile would be important. But instead he drags his 14 year old brother into a strip club, makes a scene, starts a fight, and ends up forgetting a bag of money he’s stolen. At least this encounter earns them an ally in a stripper played by Zoë Kravitz. She’s a likable presence who decides to run away with them. But just when you’d think they would catch a clue, they decide to stage a robbery to get the missing money back. This older brother is so frustratingly dumb that you want to scream at the screen.
There are many stretches where the alien weapon subplot takes a backseat to the family drama. It’s an interesting choice in that we end up caring about these people. There is one tragic moment early on which should have had more impact than it does, but the road movie aspect of the brothers joking around is quite charming. The final act involves a showdown with both the gangsters and the aliens. Needless to say some stuff goes down.
Kin is a surprising movie in that it’s not what you would expect. It’s more polished than an indie road movie. And yet it’s slightly rougher than a typical Hollywood Science Fiction action movie. Directors Jonathan Baker and Josh Baker adapted this from a short film they created previously. Maybe these brothers are working out some of their own sibling issues on film. And that’s great. Write what you know and make it personal. At least the audience ends up caring about what happens.
Myles Truitt is a compelling young actor who is likely to have more good work ahead of him. He’s a sympathetic kid for whom you root. He combines innocence and emotions in a believable way. Meanwhile the film itself is a modest yet polished genre story. Not great, but solidly good. Worth a watch.