Fortnite could totally use this weapon. Fourteen-year-old Elijah (Myles Truitt) has never really known a normal life. He was adopted at six months old by Hal Solinski (Dennis Quaid), who has done his best to provide a fatherly influence. His adopted mother passed away some years ago, with the void still felt. Another void in the family is brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor), who has recently returned to the Solinski household after a six-year stint in prison. A person could see how all of this affects Elijah, a smart, but troubled, kid. In his spare time, he goes looking for scrap metal to sell. One day, he doesn’t come across metal, but a mysterious, heavy artillery gun that he and only he can wield.
Jimmy’s years in the pen didn’t come without debts owed, and it’s time to pay his to the local crime boss in Taylor (James Franco). When he doesn’t have the money, the Solinski clan flees the area and goes west to try and start a new life. Things are never that easy. The Taylor gang will get what they’re owed whether Jimmy—or anyone close to him—is dead or alive. And with the gun Elijah’s found, he’s got people that will go to the ends of the Earth to retrieve it.
Even an impressively surprising and satisfying cameo can’t save Kin, adapted from a 2014 short film known as Bag Man. It’s not the presentation. Instead, it’s the uncertainty that Kin carries in what type of film it wants to be, equal parts a coming-of-age, crime, drama, science-fiction, and even light comedy. Being no better than mediocre in any of them makes for a forgettable viewing.
Kin Jonathan and Josh Baker serve as co-directors/co-writers for this movie. Their script is not a strong point, to put it plainly. Much of their feature relies on their characters expounding on their lives to create some emotional beats. Whether due to clunky dialogue/delivery, questionable logic exhibited by one main character, or simply a plain lack of likability, their writing doesn’t do enough to generate any real interest in its characters. Additionally, the duo struggle with who exactly is their main character. Trailers would unequivocally paint Elijah. In actuality, the movie follows Jimmy as much as Elijah if not more so—a terrible decision as Jimmy is an extremely aggravating character to follow who exhibits poor judgement and a selfish predisposition. Lastly, Kin is one of those flicks that, unfortunately, showed everything in marketing in essentially chronological fashion, with the only difference being the realization that the firearm promoted so heavily is inconsequential to the story, and only serves a purpose when the protagonists need to get out of a hairy situation.
When that behemoth of a gun is actually used, Kin is kind of fun. This is not a film that suffers from a technical perspective. The Bakers stage three brief action sequences that push the limits of a PG-13 rating, using dark colors and environments overlayed over neon lighting and futuristic graphical modification to make these moments pop. Post-rock band Mogwai composes, and there’s a couple of good motifs and ideas that belong in more well-rounded presentation.
For a movie with the title of Kin, you would expect the brotherhood aspect and the chemistry between those who play the brothers to at least be good, but the natural dynamic isn’t there with Truitt and Reynor. All of this is made even more awkward with the third wheel inclusion of Zoë Kravitz by way of an adult entertainment club midway through. It’s as bizarre as it sounds. Like the multitude of genres, this threesome’s relationship never coalesces or feels uber-important to the story. Villain-wise, hard to tell what Franco’s going for in his performance. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter a ton; he’s the generic baddie that does generic bad actions. In limited screen time, Quaid gives Kin an emotional and grounded heartbeat at least until the plot pivots away from the patriarch.
A general lesson for life: Sometimes the best method is contraction, not expansion. It’s not impossible for a movie to blend multiple genres together effectively. Still, some foundation is needed before introducing pieces that don’t naturally fit. Oh, brother, Kin could use some foundation.
Photo credits go to blackfilm.com and comingsoon.net.
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