Based on the 2014 short film, “Bag Man”, Jonathan and Josh Baker make their feature film directorial debut with “Kin”. This is a sci-fi, drama, thriller mashup that may not entirely work, but has enough interesting pieces that I couldn’t help but be drawn into the story.
While sifting through an abandoned building looking for things that he can sell off for cash, 14-year-old Eli Solinski (Myles Truitt) comes upon something he was never meant to see, two armored covered figures laying on the floor and one of their technologically advanced weapons. After being startled, Eli runs away, only to come back and notice that the bodies are gone, but the weapon was right where he dropped it.
Eli does not tell anyone about the super-weapon he found. Not his stern adopted father Hal (Dennis Quaid) or his older brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) who just got out of prison after being away for 6 years. Meanwhile, Jimmy is $60,000 in debt to a local gangster named Taylor (James Franco). This leads to an unfortunate turn-of-events that forces Jimmy and Eli to hit the road. Eli is completely unaware of the danger Jimmy has put them both in and Jimmy is unaware of the weapon that Eli is carrying around in his bag. To make matters worse, a couple of mysterious masked hunters want to recover the lost weapon and they will stop at nothing to get it. Taylor is also hunting down the brothers for his own vengeful reasons.
When Eli and Jimmy begin their brotherly bond (at a strip club), they meet a stripper with heart, Milly (Zoë Kravitz). She takes to young Eli almost right away in a big sisterly kind of way. When the club owner gets handsy with Jimmy and Milly, Eli breaks out the big gun and does some reconstruction with the pull of the trigger. The three of them hop in the car and continue out west, not before making a detour to steal back the bag of money. Jimmy left at the club.
Much of the film plays out like a dramatic road trip movie and at times I forgot that this was even science fiction. I enjoyed “Kin” quite a bit, but there were plenty of glaring issues in the narrative. I liked the direction that the Bakers were trying to go in, but the elements didn’t always blend well. The sci-fi elements seemed to play a much smaller role in the story than I expected. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it almost felt pointless at times. This could have easily been a dramatic thriller about a couple of brothers on the run from a gangster. However, some of the coolest moments in “Kin” did involve that gun. Then there is the final act that goes in a much more sci-fi direction and plays out like a potential franchise starter. That for me was the weakest element in “Kin” but the Police Station siege leading up to it was intense and well executed by the filmmakers. Like I said before, for every element that didn’t work, there was a connected one that did. Sure, “Kin” is flawed, but it is skillfully flawed and offers something a little different than the norm.
By: Marc Ferman