Kin from directors Jonathan and Josh Baker is a futuristic science fiction adventure story about the bonds of kinship. The cast reflects other characters we’ve seen before, but are strong in an otherwise limp story.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I am a sucker for 80’s adventure movies and that family is a constant theme for me.
Jonathan and Josh Baker’s Kin captures the essence of films that I loved as a kid and represents the best, modern meaning of family that we have today.
Elijah (Myles Truitt) is a mischievous kid, but he’s a good one. When we first meet him, he seems like he is down on his luck; he doesn’t have the latest in fashion, he’s not very well liked in school and he’s got a flip phone. What we come to learn is that he lives with his dad, Hal (Dennis Quaid), who is a widower. Hal is a hard-working and honest individual who is trying to instill a sense of honor and integrity.
Jimmy (Jack Reynor) is Hal’s other son. Jimmy has made one bad decision after another and has paid the price for it. In fact, he’s continuing to pay the price when we catch up with him. Taylor Balik (James Franco) is a crime lord with a note for Jimmy’s protection and the note is now due. Circumstances force Jimmy and Elijiah to run.
Based on their short film, Bag Man, directors Jonathan and Josh Baker offer an 80’s style action-adventure thriller. The characterizations are strong even if the story limps its way to the finish line. Within that, the story never feels like it was half-assed: there’s assuredness on both sides of the camera as the cast work their magic. Jack Reynor shines as Jimmy. He knows he’s screwed up more than once, and like a parent who cares for their kids even after they’ve long since grown up, Hal takes him in.
There’s a scene early in the film where all three are sitting around the table. Jimmy desperately needs help, but Hal reminds him that he makes his own decisions, this after Elijah gets himself suspended from school over something frivolous. There’s natural feel to the family assembled around the dinner table that Daniel Casey’s screenplay captures.
Then Jimmy tries to make it right with Taylor. Of all the characters, Taylor is the juiciest. Franco just goes to town and gives it every ounce of oomph he has, rivaling Kiefer Sutherland’s John “Ace” Merrill in Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me. He is relentless until the very end.
Kin is Myles Taylor’s debut. As Elijah, he plays the role with a conviction that allows you to believe he is more than the character on the screen. Despite everything that happens to him in the film, physically and emotionally, he is a stand-up kid, much the same way as Ben Crandall (Ethan Hawke) in Joe Dante’s Explorers or Barret Oliver’s “D.A.R.Y.L.”, two kids searching for something more than they are and actually being more than the sum of their parts.
Integral to this story though is the bonds between brothers . . . and a stripper named Milly (Zoe Kravitz). The set-up for Milly’s introduction is as far-fetched as they come, but in the grand scheme of our characters, it works. And it is important that it works because Milly is a “Baby” Houseman or a Ingrid Knudsen (Brigitte Nielsen; Cobra) or, more importantly, an unassuming Sarah Connor: she is someone who needs to get out of her situation and ironically Elijah and Jimmy show up.
Though I didn’t mind the length, there are elements that could have been dealt with much more effectively, but at the end of the day, we have a science fiction film that hearkens back to the films that I treasured as a kid. Of course, I compared this film to D.A.R.Y.L.
What does that say about me?
Now in theaters, Kin is rated PG-13 by the MPAA.