[Screen It]


(2018) (Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor) (PG-13)

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Sci-Fi: After finding a futuristic and powerful weapon, a fourteen-year-old boy ends up going on an unplanned road trip with his recently paroled brother, unaware that his sibling is in debt to a dangerous criminal or that futuristic soldiers want that weapon back.
Elijah (MYLES TRUITT) is a 14-year-old adopted boy who's growing up in a rough part of Detroit with his widowed father, Hal (DENNIS QUAID). While in an abandoned building stripping old wiring for cash, Elijah comes across a number of bodies in futuristic suits as well as a strange weapon that's obviously related to them. The boy freaks out and runs home and doesn't tell his dad who's otherwise preoccupied by the return of his biological son, Jimmy (JACK REYNOR), who's just been paroled after a six-year stint in prison.

Unbeknownst to Hal or Elijah, Jimmy owes $60,000 to dangerous criminal Taylor Balik (JAMES FRANCO) who isn't pleased that the young man doesn't have the money but is intrigued to hear that his father likely does in his safe at work. That results in a number of deaths and Jimmy taking Elijah on an impromptu road trip, lying that their father approved that and will join them later. Along the way, they end up picking up stripper Milly (ZOE KRAVITZ) who's grown tired of having an abusive boss, and the three soon discover just how powerful Elijah's futuristic weapon is.

But what they don't realize is that Taylor and his goons are headed for the same destination with revenge on their minds, or that two futuristic figures are also intent on finding the boy and retrieving the weapon that the teen just might have to use to defend himself and his brother.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
The vast majority of films begin in a single genre -- horror, romantic comedy, costume drama, etc. -- and stay within the usual parameters until the end credits start playing. A handful -- such as "From Dusk till Dawn" -- start in one genre and then switch gears somewhere along the way, but those are fairly rare. And then there are those that try to be a mash-up of various genres, a cinematic endeavor that certainly isn't necessarily a walk in the park in terms of making all of those often disparate elements work together.

Case in point is "Kin," a movie that on its surface is best labeled as sci-fi, what with a certain futuristic weapon getting the lion's share of storytelling attention. But the film is also a troubled teen drama, a gritty crime tale, a road trip flick and a brotherly bonding offering, with a stripper with a heart of gold thrown in for good measure.

That's a lot of material and genre trappings to juggle, and the mix doesn't always work. But the various individual elements do more often than not, resulting in an offering that's more tree than forest-oriented. All of which means it's an odd duck of a movie that earns a very slight recommendation, and possibly could have been something better had co-directors Jonathan Baker and Josh Baker and writer Daniel Casey figured out how to connect the dots in a more seamless, entertaining and engaging fashion.

When the tale starts, it almost has the look and feel of some post-apocalyptic flick. Aerial shots show a city in ruins (it's Detroit) and a boy (Myles Truitt) visiting his mother's grave. While scavenging for wall wiring in one of those giant, dilapidated buildings, he comes across a headless, armor-suited body propped against a wall, followed by others nearby, along with the aforementioned weapon. But he gets spooked and runs home, only to have a dream about the gun that seems to indicate there's some sort of psychic (or related) connection between him and it.

On the home front, 14-year-old Elijah lives with his adoptive widowed dad (Dennis Quaid) who isn't exactly looking forward to the return of his biological son (Jack Reynor) who's just been paroled from prison following a six-year stint for robbery. To complicate matters, the young man owes a lot of cash to a local gangster (James Franco), and bad things are likely going to follow if it isn't paid back and in a hurry.

That results in the robbery of a safe, some gunfire, and a number of dead people. Accordingly, Jimmy takes his younger brother on a getaway road trip where they end up meeting a stripper (Zoe Kravitz) and the weapon's abilities are first demonstrated in putting her abusive boss in his place. At the same time, two futuristic soldiers (who've arrived through a portal of some sort) are tracking down that weapon through some nifty "it happened here" look back into the recent past technology.

All of which seems to mean the brothers and their new stripper friend are likely going to have a three-way run-in with those pursuing them: Franco and his thugs, the unidentified duo from the future (or another dimension or something along those lines), and the strip bar boss who isn't happy to have been publicly shamed in losing his star dancer.

But the latter is seen and used once again and the future duo is only occasionally shown closing in until the final sequence (that doesn't shy away from suggesting a sequel necessary to explain what the heck is going on). That leaves Franco and company to carry most of the bad guy weight and while he and they look the part, they're just not that interesting (except as targets for the weapon that finally gets to let loose and vaporize some punks).

Notwithstanding that busy but weak aspect of the film, enough parts of it worked just okay enough that I sort of dug what transpired, at least in the various individual moments. As a complete offering, it's something of a slightly jumbled mess that either needed some parts pruned or a more creative way to make it all work together better. So, we're left with a mixed bag, and thus "Kin" rates as a 5 out of 10.

Reviewed August 28, 2018 / Posted August 31, 2018

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