14-year old Eli (Myles Truitt) gets suspended from school for fighting and starts spending his time stealing and selling scrap metal. His scrapping brings him to an abandoned building where he discovers a handful of dead high-tech soldiers and a bizarre gun. When his adoptive father (Dennis Quaid) finds out about his scrapping, he puts him on lockdown… especially with his brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) getting out of prison. Tensions get even higher when Jimmy reveals he owes $60,000 to a very bad man named Taylor (James Franco) for keeping him safe on the inside and he needs help to repay him or the whole family will be in danger.
Jimmy brings Taylor to his dad’s worksite to steal the money from the company safe, but it goes wrong when his dad shows up and tries to stop him. The bullets start flying and Jimmy flees with the money and takes Eli on a road trip, lying to him about their father being dead. Taylor tracks them cross country, wanting revenge for his own brother who died in the shootout. When a sleazy strip club owner (Romano Orzari) attacks Jimmy, Taylor brings out the big gun and shows off its incredible force to save the day.
Things really get interesting when a stripper that Jimmy and Taylor both like, Milly (Zoe Kravitz) joins them for the remainder of their roadtrip. Unbeknownst to them, however, is the group is being tracked by high-tech soldiers who want the powerful gun back, in addition to the FBI who’s after them for their father’s murder.
Kin suffers from what I like to call “Spider-Man 3 Syndrome” – it has way too many bad guys! Let’s take a quick count: Taylor and his crew of murderous goons, a pair of high-tech soldiers, ominously tracking the brothers cross country, the sleazy club owner and his goon squad of Las Vegas rednecks, and even the police and FBI! Antagonistic forces seem to be crawling out of the woodwork to come after the pair, making this movie feel like there’s just too much stuff going on.
I guess one could also compare this to a more serious version of Dude, Where’s My Car! It’s essentially a road trip movie, filled with lots and lots (and lots and lots) of people getting in the way of our heroes reaching their final destination. And, if memory serves, the Ashton Kutcher comedy also involved some alien technology that had people from its home planet trying to intercept and get back. So, yeah, that’s actually a better comparison than I originally thought.
There was actually a lot of good familial drama in this movie, including some authentically touching moments. Unfortunately, those moments were vastly underplayed due to all the chaos surrounding them as, again, they were on the run by so many forms of bad guy! Had they knocked it down to just 2 (Taylor, and the high-tech soldiers), it would have been plenty and allowed for more drama and character building to really bank on the emotional impact this film could have had. But someone, somewhere, got the idea that “more is more”, which became a major hindrance on this film.
Also, while one would think the kid brother is the main character since he’s the one who finds the gun, it’s actually the older ex-con brother at the center of the story. Jack Reynor does a great job with the role, which makes it fortunate that he’s the one with the most screen time as young Myles Truitt – who the ending sets up as the major character for a sequel – is just not very good at all. Not sure why they didn’t get someone with more experience for this role.
And speaking of the ending? There’s a big twist ending that, in my opinion, makes the movie even worse! It sets up a needless sequel (this movie was working as a standalone film just fine, thank you), adds more convolution to an already convoluted movie, feels completely out of nowhere without any foreshadowing that really mattered more than a glossed-over afterthought, and was – frankly – corny as hell!
Oh, and James Franco was actually really good as the very scary murderous fiend. So much better here than in previous villain roles.
Kin kept my attention, but fell short of the movie it could have been as it’s overstuffed with too many bad guys and too much going on. I’m not sure who’s more to blame, production company 21 Laps and distributor Lionsgate (I’m sure they gave plenty of notes how this film should play out), first-time writer Daniel Casey (who’s since gotten a plethora of studio work including the reboot of The Craft and a Hitman sequel), or first time directors Johnathan and Josh Baker (who wrote and directed the short film Bag Man that this movie was based on). The excess squeezes the heart from what might have been.