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by DAN LYBARGER Specail to the Democrat-Gazette | August 31, 2018 at 1:46 a.m.

Labor Day is usually when studios drop movies that have no chance of finding an audience in the summer or award season. Kin sadly follows in that long, predictable tradition.

Still, it's not hard to imagine how some actors were roped in. One imagines their agents saying, "Yeah, I know that script stinks like a hog farm after a rainstorm, but you only have four or five lines to recite, and you'll be done before the afternoon is over."


70 Cast: Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor, James Franco, Zoe Kravitz, Dennis Quaid, Carrie Coon, Gavin Fox, Michael B. Jordan

Directors: Jonathan Baker, Josh Baker

Rating: PG-13, for gun violence and intense action, suggestive material, language, thematic elements and drinking

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Sadly, watching the end result isn't so rewarding, especially if you've paid your own money to see Kin. It awkwardly combines a working class family drama, a crime thriller and a science fiction yarn. Because the characters are so thin and hackneyed, it's impossible to get worked up over any of the plotlines.

Somehow screenwriter Daniel Casey (extending twins Josh and Jonathan Baker's short film Bag Man) has crafted a tale that involves FBI, interdimensional armies and Detroit gangsters, yet generates fewer thrills or moments of wonder than glowing comfort offered by an exit sign. (Incidentally, Bag Man is available for free on YouTube, and 12 minutes, its simplicity is more entertaining than the convoluted Kin.)

Newcomer Myles Truitt stars as 14-year-old Eli, who has just been suspended from school for fighting. Before we can find out anything other than his dad Hal (Dennis Quaid) is upset with him, we find out the black youngster has a grown, white older brother named Jimmy (Jack Reynor).

If Jimmy's return seems sudden, it's because he has just left the penitentiary. Naturally, Hal would rather not have his younger son become an ex-con like Jimmy. Because Eli scavenges scrap metal from the Motor City's many abandoned buildings, Hal's worries are justified.

Actually, Jimmy's situation is even worse than it appears. In the Big House, he took out a loan with gangster Taylor Balik (James Franco) and his brother Dutch (Gavin Fox). The money kept Jimmy from harm while he was behind bars, but Taylor would like all $60,000 back immediately.

It's hard to argue with a tattooed man loading several automatic weapons one-by-one.

Meanwhile, Eli has discovered a large gun that looks like an AK-47 stuffed in a cheap briefcase. Aliens of some sort use it, and so can Eli.

By the time you find out why, you'll cease to care.

As Jimmy finds more ways to drag Eli into his own messes, it's tempting to cheer on the aliens, the Feds or the gangsters if they could somehow relieve the audience of spending any more time with Jimmy. Though he's not the only one in the movie who makes lousy decisions. How many people in one of the most dangerous sections of Detroit would walk in alone to the site of a break-in armed only with a crowbar?

Because I've not seen the footage that didn't make the final cut, and I haven't read the actual script, it's hard to tell if Michael B. Jordan (who has an executive producer credit) or Carrie Coon had more substantial roles. As it is, you'll miss them if you blink.

Zoe Kravitz almost makes her role as an "exotic dancer with a heart of gold" convincing. The PG-13 rating results in violence and sex that's muted for fans of Arrival and Stranger Things. The producers for those projects happily announce their other offerings on the posters for Kin as if they are apologizing for what's actually on the screen.

MovieStyle on 08/31/2018

Print Headline: Kin


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