Kin (2018)

“Everything that has ever been stolen was something that was just sitting there.”

There’s a surprising amount of grittiness to Kin, a movie that presents a story perfectly suitable for the 90’s with a darker, grimier aesthetic. And although the original picture is based on a previous short film, the entire thing just lacks context and depth. In an age where everything is inspired by comics or is a rehash of old material, Kin shows us that telling something for the first time can feel fun even when the whole endeavor never gives us enough detail to begin with. It’s not a very good movie, and it’s not very well told either, but there’s something commendable about making a story that is its own thing. The results vary but the effort rarely wavers.

Scrounging around from one abandoned building to the next, scrapping copper and aluminum for a small net yield, Eli Solinski (Myles Truitt) scrapes by through life. He’s an adopted young man to the widowed Hal (Dennis Quaid), often feeling like a literal replacement for Jimmy (Jack Reynor), the troubled mistake of a big brother who’s done 6 years behind bars for petty thievery. Jimmy’s out now and he carries the kind of baggage that airlines would profit off of. He’s a drinker, a foolhardy and unlucky gambler, owing great debt to the resident thug Taylor (James Franco). In more ways than one, Kin spins its inspired Western yarn like a darker, more Average Joe version of the neighborhood hero Spider-Man. Instead of web-slingers and a suit, the hero gets a gun and a licence to carry himself.

This small-scale sci-fi jaunt eventually turns into a road movie. The Solinski brothers meet Milly (Zoe Kravitz), a stripper looking for an EXIT from the men strong-holding her through intimidating methods. Jimmy downs beers and shots and Eli chugs soda, and the two share an experience true to the rowdy spirit of brotherhood. Milly is a strong-minded character, governed by wannabe gangsters, but thankfully Eli came across a big ol’ gun in his travels, and like Arthur in The Sword in the Stone, he possesses the power to operate the ray gun. Kin dawdles around for far too long and seems too interested in developing character over story world – which is why the movie seems so obscure – but it finds its personality in the neon colored, dollar bill laden floors of the strip club. It’s a small step towards promising, authentic relationships that unfortunately never really holds up.

Kin feels more like a fuzzy recollection of a dream than it does a coherent motion picture. The mythology it writes is interesting, and it is intriguing – even if it isn’t very compelling – and it makes the Cardinal Sin of forecasting a future chapter despite its already underwritten saga. Because the movie has been poorly stitched together and sorely edited, making a mess of a film that has many of the right parts and very little comprehension for when to deploy them, Kin tells its expansive, rich story through a telescope that refuses to move, and while there are glimmers and glints in the corners, we don’t get to properly see them, let alone assess their value.

“If I’m hard on you, it’s because the world is hard.”

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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