Friday, January 4, 2019


Jonathon Baker, Josh Baker

Eli (Myles Tuitt) is a young kid adopted into a family with some problems. His older brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) has just gotten out of prison and is trying to get his life together. Complicating that is Taylor (James Franco), the leader of the gang that protected Jimmy in prison but now wants their due. While Eli is poking around an abandoned building looking for scrap to sell, he find a strange box that turns out to be a powerful weapon. Soon Eli and Jimmy are on the run not only from Taylor but also from a couple of strange armored figures who want their gun back.

Kin initially feels like it is going to be a modern-day take on Laserblast (1978) with a marginalized kid who is given a piece of technology that can put him over on the people who’ve hurt him. A film with more pulp aspirations would have turned this into a revenge film, but Kin is much more interested in its characters than its hyper-technology, perhaps to a fault. This is first and foremost a character-driven drama and a science-fiction film second, but don’t let that stop you, there are some interesting things going on in this unjustly ignored film.

"Do you have to saw 'pew pew' every time I pull the trigger?"
Myles Tuitt as Eli is an easy character to like. He’s in a much worse situation than he realizes for most of the film thanks to his brother hiding to the truth. It is interesting that after he finds the ray-gun, he strikes a few cool poses with it, but it does not fuel any macho power fantasies. His brother Jimmy immediately comes to realize the weapon’s potential and isn’t above using Eli to meet his ends. Jimmy is a troubled guy who constantly makes rash choices. I found it difficult to sympathize with him, but that is part of his journey as a character from an wreckless bad guy to a bad guy who takes some responsibility for his actions. ZoĆ« Kravitz plays Milly who is mostly along for the ride with these two. Her character feels underdeveloped especially as she all but vanishes during the 3rd act. James Franco is the antagonist Taylor, and he’s greasy and awful, but Franco never completely disappears into the character, so it is often distracting.

If the film has one major flaw is that it hangs on its interpersonal drama just a little too long, making the science-fiction elements seem almost forgotten before we get around to the conclusion. I think audiences going in expecting a glorified action movie with a laser gun are going to be tested by the pacing, but if you can accept what the film is trying to do it succeeds.

Special appearance by Daft Punk.
The gun and the gadgets employed by the two mysterious figures are fun and show some thought behind their design and function. There is nothing groundbreaking in their execution, but they offer some visual punch to what threatens to be an otherwise mundane looking crime drama. When the ray-gun comes out the film takes on a decidedly 1980s slickness with glowing lights and a pulsing synthesizer score. This film serves as a great example of how to tap into the 1980s aesthetic without making it a pastiche. The finale goes all out with some decent action pieces and a satisfying conclusion that thematically and narratively ties things up pretty well.

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