Kin (2018)
Kin (2018)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.

Release Date: August 31st, 2018 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Jonathan Baker, Josh Baker Actors: Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor, Zoe Kravitz, James Franco, Gavin Fox, Dennis Quaid, Carrie Coon, Ian Matthews




roubled teenager Elijah Solinski (Myles Truitt) constantly finds himself at odds with those around him. When he’s not getting in fights at school or butting heads with his father (Dennis Quaid) at home, Eli scrounges copper and aluminum from abandoned factories for cash. During one such scavenger hunt, the youth discovers the felled bodies of several soldiers, along with a futuristic rifle that mysteriously activates only for him. When his brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) returns from prison, the dysfunctional family spirals further out of control. Owing money to ruthless arms dealer Taylor Balik (James Franco), Jimmy attempts to rob the safe at his father’s construction company. When the heist turns tragic, Jimmy flees with the cash and tricks Eli into believing that their father wants them to travel to Lake Tahoe for a vacation. As the brothers head across the country, they must stay one step ahead of a crazed killer, the police, and two mysterious warriors intent on retrieving their weapon.

An outsider who is disruptive at school, with a distant father and an ex-con brother isn’t a new character design. But it’s a surprisingly effective way to introduce a sci-fi picture, considering that the more outlandish components of otherworldly visitors take a backseat to familial issues and earthbound drama. The introduction of the gun and its alien pursuers is wonderfully subtle, chronicled in brief moments between the broader story, which details a struggling family, countless poor decisions, and dangerous associates – not unlike “Midnight Special” from 2016. Gently acquainting audiences with these elements helps prevent them from becoming discordant distractions or wildly unbelievable additives.

The biggest problem with “Kin” instead comes in the form of its protagonists. The many bad judgments are anticipated, but Jimmy is still a severe troublemaker. His actions lend to extreme consequences, yet his lies are more unforgivable still; this makes it difficult to side with him, despite the film attempting to redeem him with sequences of bonding over mischief (which itself is no less potent, consisting of a strip club visit, gambling at a casino, and an armed stick-up). He’s a negative presence and a terrible influence, though his general criminality reflects an entirely plausible scenario. “You wanna have an adventure or you wanna do chores?” He does, however, fit nicely into the same world as Franco’s villain, who once again looks and acts right at home in a role of psychopathic depravity.

The dark subject matter transforms “Kin” into a sci-fi drama far less action-packed or lighthearted than the slew of recent space operas. It’s consistently serious, which is a spectacular way to allow audiences to digest the outrageousness of hi-tech alien weaponry. There are lulls here and there, particularly when the focus returns to realistic predicaments (though stripper Milly’s [Zoe Kravitz] determination to tag along is such a huge stretch that it feels more phony than the obvious sci-fi factors) and the gray area of heroes who aren’t vigilantes or even underdogs (questionable activities abound), but the finale hints at the cathartic fantasy of annihilative vengeance – along the lines of “The Terminator.” A few unconventional takes on familiar ideas (even when the execution stumbles at times) allow “Kin” to surpass many of its teen-oriented peers – chiefly with its unwavering tone. Unfortunately, the conclusion hints at further adventures, conveying an incompleteness that plagues just about every blockbuster out there, hoping to be part of a larger universe before it’s determined that it can stand on its own.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10