MOVIE REVIEW – KIN. With Jack Reynor, Myles Truitt, James Franco, Zoë Kravitz, Dennis Quaid. Written by Daniel Casey. Directed by Jonathan Baker, Josh Baker. Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic content and related violent images, and for some language. 102 minutes.
KIN wastes a talented cast in a road movie tarted-up with some superficial science fiction trappings. Indeed, the movie leaves us with more questions than answers, so that this plays more like the pilot for a TV series than a feature film. If the idea was that we learn more in a sequel film, don’t hold your breath waiting for it.
The story focuses on Jimmy (Jack Reynor), an ex-con who returns home to find his father (Dennis Quaid in a nothing role) being less than welcoming. Jimmy owes $60,000 to the thuggish Taylor (James Franco). When Jimmy’s attempt to clear his debt goes wrong, he goes on the run with his adopted younger brother Eli (Myles Truitt). Along the way, they pick up a stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold (Zoë Kravitz), while Taylor and his gang are in pursuit.
So, where’s the science fiction? Eli has been picking up money selling copper wiring he’s ripped out of abandoned buildings, and along the way, he discovers the bodies of some soldiers who are clearly not of our space or time. He picks up an item that turns out to be some sort of powerful ray gun. Two of the armored soldiers are also in pursuit, presumably to get the ray gun back.
And that’s about it. When the film finally reveals who the soldiers are and where they came from, it explains very little, leaving viewers hanging. Were this a TV series, one could tune in next week (or binge watch) and find out what happens next, but instead all we get are the closing credits.
It’s too bad, because while Quaid gets little to do but growl and Franco gets to sneer and swagger, the three main cast members have an easy rapport. In a series, their characters would get to develop from episode to episode. The actors do what they can to bring some depth to their paper-thin characters. Truitt, a TV actor making his feature debut, is especially effective as Eli, a kid who has to grow up very fast.
Brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker – yes, another sibling filmmaking team – make their feature debut based on a short film they did (“Bagman,” which can be found online here: https://vimeo.com/285412731), but Daniel Casey’s screenplay fleshes out their original concept with largely conventional choices. The Bakers may show promise, but “Kin” only showcases their potential for the future, not the realization of that promise in the present.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His latest novel is Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.