Film Review ‘Kin’ from directors Jonathan Baker and Josh Baker

While scavenging for copper wire, Detroit teenager Eli Solinski (Myles Truitt) stumbles upon a high-tech gun that holds special powers. When his brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), lands in trouble with a local crime boss, the two siblings take the mysterious weapon and go on the run. Eli and Jimmy now find themselves in a life-and-death battle against an army of thugs and two heavily armoured, futuristic soldiers who want their gun back.

Based on their original short film Bag Man (2014), Kin is an impressive feature directorial debut for brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker, who have delivered a brilliantly entertaining drama with a sci-fi twist.

From the trailer it would be easy to assume that Kin is yet another CGI driven popcorn movie which has become a popular trend; where the lack of story, character development and feasibility are glazed over with dazzling special effects. Thankfully Kin doesn’t fall into that trap as the Baker brothers deliver the sci-fi elements with a more subtle execution. The film still includes some impressive effects in the film, but they play more of a supporting role to the main story and brilliant performances from the cast.

The focus of the film revolves around relationships and unsurprising with two brothers directing, it primarily revolves around two brothers Eli (Myles Truitt) and his older brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor). Following a series of events where Jimmy can’t escape his past, the brothers who find themselves on the road, with Jimmy trying to hold things together as things quickly start to spiral out of control. There is a real chemistry between the brothers which works so well throughout the film, as Jimmy trying to engage once more with his brother having been in prison for so long and amongst the chaos tries to protect him from the truth.

Myles Truitt in Kin (Lionsgate UK)

Myles Truitt in Kin (Lionsgate UK)

As the two brothers take to the road the film develops an innocent 80’s sensibility, where they seem to have a casual disregard towards the repercussions of their actions. Pursued by hardened criminal Taylor Balik (James Franco) who is out for revenge, the decisions Jimmy continues to make whilst on the run so do not set much of an example for his younger brother, who inadvertently becomes involved. It is not always intentional and Jimmy does believe he is doing the right thing by Eli, but nerveless it is not the right environment for a child.

With a visit to a strip club, committing a robbery (be it to get their own money back) and with the alien weaponry leaving a trail of extensive damage along the way. The events in which they find themselves is far from child’s play.

Myles Truitt is excellent as Eli with a confident maturity in his performance, delivering an array of emotions. Form the start he has an initial rebellious streak as he continues to struggle with the loss of his mother, but as the film unfolds further weight is added to his shoulders as new truths come to light.  It is a brilliantly convincing performance in which his character is often forced to act beyond his years, but behind it all there still lies a vulnerability at times to further reminds you that he is just still a child.

Jack Reynor also does a great Jimmy, who despite taking responsibility has a more juvenile persona of the two with his decision making and at times laddish behaviour. He may not seem the best role model, but he does try to do what he can to protect Eli, even if that means trying to smokescreen the severity of their situation. Jack does well to balances the comedy and drama of the situations, with his personality superseding his initially good intentions which seems to land them in trouble. It is in these moments that Eli surprisingly has to take a stand often being the one to get them out of the situation.

Dennis Quaid and Myles Truitt in Kin (Lionsgate UK)

Dennis Quaid and Myles Truitt in Kin (Lionsgate UK)

Despite the relatively short screen time both Dennis Quaid and Zoë Kravitz manages to make a huge impact in the film. Dennis Quaid delivers a heartfelt performance as Hal Solinski, whose tough love approach to Eli and Jimmy may be for there own good, even though it feels that he is distancing himself.

Zoë Kravitz arrives later in the film as dancer Milly, who the brothers initially meet in a strip club. Zoë brings a light-hearted humour to film and despite her brief appearance instantly connects with the brothers and changes the dynamics. Like Dennis, she really makes an impact in the film, despite an all too brief appearance, although you can see why the decisions were made.

Zoe Kravitz in Kin (Lionsgate UK)

Zoe Kravitz in Kin (Lionsgate UK)

James Franco once again seems to embellish the opportunity to play the bad guy, with a malicious intent as the crime boss Taylor Balik. A man who rules by violence and following the death of his brother will stop at nothing to avenge his death personally. It may not be much of stretch for him as an actor, but he makes certain that his performance is still memorable once again.

The special effects may not be used to drive the film, but the ideas and execution in the film are impressive. The alien technology with Eli’s gun and the tracking devices used by the cleaners to track them down creates some excellent visuals, but it is the final 20 minutes where they really impress. Where the majority of the film taking time to develop the characters whilst incorporating sci-fi elements into the drama, the final scenes deliver the action many were expecting throughout. Turning the film on its head with an explosive showdown it delivers a surprising twist to the story and a surprise cameo which asks more questions than it gives answers. It finished the film on a high which gives an indication of what we could expect from a proposed more action-packed sequel.

I was really impressed with the Baker brothers debut feature Kin which despite delivering as an entertaining action sci-fi, really exceed expectations with a great story and powerful performances from the cast. This is not another effects-driven popcorn movie which some may be expecting, which for me is a good thing! But sci-fi fans looking forward to the action, will not be disappointed with the action-packed final 20 minutes which delivers an explosive finale which is definitely worth waiting for.

 

Kin is currently playing at Showcase Cinemas until 15th November and is available for a digital download from today.  Kin will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from 26th December.

Film Review Kin
4
Philip Rogers

Philip Rogers

Published in various websites, Philip is a reviewer who is best known for his interviews and media coverage of independent projects including; films, books, theatre and live events. Always on the lookout for something different to cover!