Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Movie Review: "Kin" (2018)

Director: Jonathan and Josh Baker
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

After finding a futuristic weapon, an adopted teen named Eli is taken on a road trip by his ex-con brother Jimmy, who is trying to hide the fact their father is dead, all while they are being pursued by dangerous criminals.

"Be more like dad, less like me. Just be better than me." (Image Source)
We could talk until the cows come home about the tone-deaf nature of making a movie about a teen who finds a gun that gives him a sense of invincibility, but that really isn't what "Kin" is about at its core. This is the feature film directorial debut of Jonathan and Josh Baker. Its screenplay is written by Daniel Casey and is based on the short film written and directed by the Baker brothers themselves. The story revolves around an adopted teenage named Eli Solinski (Myles Truitt) and his ex-con older brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor). After doing a six-year stretch in prison, Jimmy owes some protection money to a dangerous criminal named Taylor Balik (James Franco). To pay Taylor back, Jimmy takes Taylor to rob his father Hal's (Dennis Quaid) work one night. The robbery goes wrong when Hal shows up unexpectedly. After a shootout that leaves Hal and Taylor's brother dead, Jimmy quickly takes Eli on the run with him after telling him they're going on a road trip to Lake Tahoe where they will eventually meet up their father. All the while, they are pursued by both the police and Taylor and his gang. Oh, and did we mention that Eli has also found a futuristic super laser gun that the owners want back and are chasing after them, too? Clearly, lots going on in this one.
"Do you want to have an adventure, or do you want to do chores?" (Image Source)
If you saw the marketing for "Kin," you would know that it focuses mainly on Eli finding his super-space-gun and using it to help his brother. While that stuff does happen, most of this movie follows a fairly standard road-trip narrative, and the super-space-gun stuff is an insignificant footnote to make the whole thing seem more interesting than it is. Sure, there's also a subplot about Jimmy being pursued by Taylor and the futuristic people looking for their laser gun, but they don't really matter because siblings are forever! At its core, "Kin" is about these two brothers bonding for the first time and getting to know one another after spending many years apart. The gun and its future-people-owners act as more of a Deus ex machina that gets them out of whatever jam they are in at just the right moment.

Needless to say, this movie falls into a lot of tropes and has a lot of problems. Hell, there's even a stripper with a heart of gold (Zoƫ Kravitz) that joins Jimmy and Eli on the last leg of their journey so she can escape the hellish podunk town where she has been stuck for years. "Kin" also seems to borrow a lot of material from other, more well-made sci-fi films. We can't watch the final police station shootout without thinking about "The Terminator." This could just be an homage, but there is a fine line between "homage" and "blatant rip-off." Another problem we have with this movie is that it almost seems incomplete. It feels more like the pilot episode of an ongoing series that has been made to introduce the main characters and set up this universe rather than a self-contained film. We believe that "Kin" was 110% made to be the start of an inevitable series of films, but that's clearly not going to happen if you've seen its box office numbers. Lionsgate should have actually promoted the movie if that were the case. We're so sick and tired of this trend where people automatically assume they are going to get a multi-picture deal just because we're living in the age of sequels.
"If I'm hard on you, it's because the world is hard. You've seen that." (Image Source)
All this being said, not everything in "Kin" is a total loss. We sort of like the way the filmmakers try to strengthen the bond between Jimmy and Eli, even though we know it's not going to last once poop hits the fan. We can't help but feel bad for poor Eli, who is essentially being gaslit the entire road trip by his older ex-con brother. The best parts of the film come from the super-secret-space-gun itself. It's really entertaining every time the laser is fired since it can blow buildings apart in an instant, but these moments happen too few and far between to make the entire thin worthwhile.
"Protection ain't cheap." (Image Source)
If you go into "Kin" knowing it is a little mismarketed and is more of a road trip film than anything, you may be able to find some enjoyment here. For us, the flaws are a bit too glaring, so we can't say we recommend this one. This feels like it should be on Netflix.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.7/10
RT Rating: ~33%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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