Kin Movie Review
Kin Movie Review Metadata
Whatever you’re expecting from KIN (2018), set it aside.
Eli (Myles Truitt) is a lonely outsider who can’t help but defend his honor and family with his fists at school and earns a 3-day suspension for it. He also works hard at not being a burden to his single dad by being a scrapping in abandoned buildings where he finds a what looks to be battle-beaten bodies left behind after a battle, and a ray gun (for lack of a better word) which he claims for himself. Yes, this is weird since space people don’t just have shootouts in abandoned buildings, but this is Detroit, and Eli is a survivor so he rolls with it. His brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), is fresh out of prison and crashing with Eli and his dad, Hal (Dennis Quaid). Jimmy has a huge debt to pay off to Taylor (James Franco). Jimmy wants to do the honest thing and ask, but when that doesn’t work, his Plan B sends him and Eli on the run across the country. Along the way, they meet a stripper with a heart of gold, Milly (Zoë Kravitz) and things really don’t get much better for anyone.
Oh, and there are space people after the ray gun, and they don’t seem to need food or sleep to retrieve what’s theirs.
All of this feels like a wholesome buddy pic with Jimmy looking after his little brother, shielding him from the woes of poor judgment, and generally making a mess of things. They stop for a quick drink and a show at a strip club, where Jimmy wants to get his drink on and Eli – well, I can’t imagine what he was expecting a 14-year old boy to do with women who weren’t going to cross that line, but he even manages to muck that up. And there is still the Space People.
Kin is one brotherly misadventure after another because for staying ahead of getting dead, Jimmy means well, but his ideas for fun border on fatal. Jimmy can’t stay out of his own way, but he tries his hardest to keep his brother alive. It’s endearing, especially because Eli and Jimmy aren’t blood kin – Eli is black and adopted, a point that Hal says doesn’t mean a thing.
He’s right. Anyone focusing on the fact that this is a mixed family has deeper problems with racism and can’t get past that to enjoy what is really a fun if gritty film. There is the odd juxtaposition of family drama and sci-fi that feels stuttery because there aren’t enough aliens. We can blame that on Hollywood conditioning us to expect sci-fi films to be all shoot ‘em ups and firefights in zero-gravity. Kin gives us an actual story we can follow, with characters we can relate to. The fact that Eli is carrying a massive ray gun that can obliterate walls and reduce people to ash is almost inconsequential – almost because without it, we’d have a very different movie.
I’ll admit – this felt slow in the beginning because I just wanted to get to the good stuff, but I realized it was all good stuff. I enjoyed the pacing, allowing me to learn what kind of people I was getting to know. Some movies move so fast, by the time the characters do anything that feels out of character, you really don’t know what kind of character they have? It’s sneaky and a little underhanded. It allows filmmakers to flip characters mid-film since they haven’t given the audience an opportunity to get to know them. From Eli to Milly to Jimmy to Taylor – motivations were clear and nothing felt accidental and shoehorned. It flowed like a well-paced drama, with the spice of a sci-fi film.
One distracting thing I should point out: Zoë Kravitz is an accomplished artist in her own right, but she’s so much like her mom, it’s super distracting. It’s a good distracting and makes me wish Lisa Bonet had these kinds of opportunities when she was coming up.
Kin is based on the 2014 short film, Bag Man, which highlights the quiet power behind being Black and invisible, as well as Black and dangerous – especially to people who would rather that quiet power not rests with anyone Black. You could see Bag Man before Kin, but I don’t think it’s necessary since they’re coming from two different places of inherent power, but definitely check it out.
Kin (2018) is Rated PG-13 for swears, people getting shot with guns, people getting disintegrated with ray guns, Hot! Strip! Club! Action! (j/k – there’s no nudity or even boobs), scantily clad women, looooooots of booze, a SWAT team, and gorgeous aerial shots of Detroit looking desolate and barren.