‘KIN’ is headlined by an ensemble cast featuring Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor, Zoë Kravitz, James Franco and Dennis Quaid. It’s directed by Josh and Jonathan Baker who make their full-feature debut with this release. The story follows Eli, a kid living with his father that comes across a highly advanced, futuristic weapon while scavenging for copper on a construction site. His adopted brother Jimmy has just been released from prison and owes some bad people a lot of money. Which he doesn’t have, forcing he and Eli to go on the run for their safety, with older Jimmy unknown to the fact his little brother is carrying something extremely powerful and more than likely just as dangerous.
I knew very little about this movie prior to going in. I had glanced at the trailer awhile back, but for some reason it never jumped out at me. So, I was open-minded with no expectations as to what the story would provide. I think the movie does follow some familiar story tropes, and the dialogue was a little clunky at times, but overall it was fresh and surprisingly enjoyable as it captured my imagination.
The story starts out quickly. It sets the stage for a troubled family dynamic with the main character living with his widowed father, having trouble coexisting with it being just the two of them. Then there is the ex-con brother who has just been released and looking to start life over. It is routine, but there is still enough substance to build interest in. The first-act was an effective attention grabber. It started up a collection story-lines, and character-arcs that were intriguing, and they had me genuinely curious in how they would close-out. Admittedly they second-act does have some pacing issues. It could have been tightened up a bit as it spends a collection of minutes circling itself without much forward movement.
I also think the characters could have been developed just a little more which would have had a larger payoff. I wanted to know more about the main character. As well as his brother to give him more depth that I could invest in as the viewer. Not to sympathize with his place in life, but to know more about the reasoning behind some of his actions and his ways of thinking. But I do think the performances were more than serviceable.
Young Myles Truitt delivers a solid performance and he does carry the film. What his character lacked on paper, I think Truitt was able to convey with his heartfelt performance. He captures a nice blend of maturity and youthful innocence that made his character easy to like and connect with throughout the story as he matures. Jack Reynor was solid, he did feel a little bland early on. But as the story picks up and various pressures are put on his character, I think Reynor did a good job of delivering the needed emotional swings. I also really enjoyed the growth between these two adopted brothers, and it was because of the genuine chemistry portrayed between Reynor and Truitt.
Zoë Kravitz and Dennis Quaid were both nice additions to the cast. Their characters were on the thin side and lacking creativity from a development aspect. However, Kravitz and Quaid were able to elevate the material by weaving just enough of their own personality into the roles that translated well onscreen to help you forget the familiarity of them from a story-aspect. I thought James Franco was fun, he created the needed seediness and unpredictability to give the film a solid villain. From the mullet, to his dated clothing, and unhygienic appearance, it was all put together nicely. And through his performance, Franco provided the character with an effective dirtiness that embodied the role and the type of person this guy was supposed to be effectively.
This is the first full-feature film for the Baker brothers and I think they did a great job with the vision they created for this story. It was gritty and not overly polished, but the special-effects were crisp. They added a great visual-appeal that was grounded, yet still able to capture the advanced weaponry the plot centers around. Their direction provided some immersive camera angles to complement the more traditional shots giving the film a nice immersive flow. This script was written by them as well and it shows because they created a cold, nondescript setting that felt tailored to the plot perfectly. And it was layered with an intense musical score that lured me into the world of the film.
The creation of the technology was also inventive. For all of the science-fiction movies I have watched over the years, it still was able to show me something new which I can appreciate. There are also these two mysterious individuals that routinely pop-up throughout. Their intentions are unknown, and they have state-of-the-art technology that looks awesome onscreen. I felt this entire plot-line of the two helmeted characters provided a lot of instant depth to the film and the overall scope of the story that was natural compelling.
It drops in some splashes of well-timed action that didn’t try to do too much. They did a solid job of ramping up the implied tension. They felt worked naturally into the story and many scenes didn’t always go as predicted which was nicely able to create fun uneasiness as things progress. It was familiar in some instances. But it was unique and unpredictable for many more. It had my attention locked as the information is laid out with a nice progression and it wrapped up the third-act with a great landing that was genuinely thought-provoking.