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Movie Review

You'd want to root for Elijah Solinski. It's not because the teen's particularly flashy or fun: In fact he's rather lonely looking and quiet. But beneath his standoffish, almost wounded-looking exterior, we know Elijah's a pretty good kid.

But he's a pretty good kid who's going through … some stuff.

He lost his adopted mom not long ago. His working class dad is loving, but gruff, and he's far too overworked to be attentive. And his recently released ex-con brother, Jimmy, has him mixed up in something dubious.

They're on the road at this point. Why? Well, Elijah isn't sure. His brother told him they're just on vacation, basically—a road trip down to Tahoe, he says, to meet their dad. But if Elijah took the time to actually think about this impromptu holiday, he'd probably realize that there's something illegal or illicit in the mix. Seems like it's less a vacation and more of an escape.

But Elijah has a secret, too. Or rather, he recently found something secret.

Before they left, while searching for scrap copper and aluminum in some old abandoned factory buildings, Elijah stumbled upon a black, blocky weapon of some sort. He figures it must be a futuristic gun, given that he found it on the floor in the midst of a bunch of dead guys in, well, space suits or something.

I know, it sounds crazy. And Elijah would agree the whole scene was pretty freaky—especially when one of the "dead" guys moved. The teen took off outta there like a cat with his tail on fire.

When Elijah finally calmed down and went back to that empty building—just to prove to himself that it really happened—the bodies were gone. But the black, blocky onyx weapon was still there. And man, when it lights up and starts making its whirring outer space-like noises, it is super cool.

Of course, Elijah hasn't fired it or anything. His dad would kill him if he ever did that. But he couldn't help but tuck it into his bag when Jimmy said they should quickly grab some clothes and hit the road. Elijah will probably spill the beans to dad about the gun, the dead guys, everything when they all meet up in Tahoe.

In the meantime, it's still cool to have something only he knows about. Elijah hits the pillow each night with the thought that, hey, if his crazy brother gets them into anything really sketchy, that gun thing could come in handy.

It sure would be sweet to turn it on and look mean with it, he thinks as he's drifting off to sleep.

"You talkin' to me, sucka?" he'd say with a squint.

Yeah, that'd be cool.

Positive Elements

Early on in the film, Elijah's adopted dad, Hal, tells him, "If I'm hard on you, it's because the world is hard." But, in truth, the crusty guy is trying to teach his son that doing the right thing and making upright choices is the only way to survive that hard world. And when Hal learns Elijah's been illegally scavenging materials from an abandoned building, his Dad tells him he'll have to stand up and admit it to authorities.

In another situation, Hal, stands up against criminals and refuses to compromise his principals. Elijah takes his father's ideals to heart and later reiterates them to his older, but much more ethically challenged brother. He also calls his father to apologize for the negative choices he's made.

Hal tries to impress upon Jimmy that he'll have to work his way back into the community after six years in prison. "You'll have to gain experience. You're gonna have to gain trust," he tells him. But this conversation crumbles into an argument wherein Jimmy declares that Elijah is simply a weak substitute for him, a "replacement son." Elijah overhears and Hal later makes sure that the teen knows that none of that is true. He declares that he and Elijah's dead mom both love (and loved) Elijah dearly.

Later, Elijah and Jimmy grow closer and form a brotherly bond. Each goes out of his way to protect the other. And Jimmy—aware that his foolish choices sometimes put them both in danger—makes a point of telling his brother, "Be more like dad and less like me."

Spiritual Content

Jimmy points to tattoos of skulls on his fingers and declares, "these ward off evil spirits." He then points to another tattoo and sarcastically quips, "this one wards off Mexicans."

Sexual Content

Jimmy takes Elijah to a strip club to "make him a man." (One of the club's dancers declares that "going to a place like this never made anybody a man.") Women dance and seductively shimmy, on and off stage. None of them are totally nude, but there isn't a whole lot covered up either. Several women dressed in very revealing outfits join Jimmy and Elijah at their table for drinks. One of them kisses Elijah on the cheek.

Violent Content

The film avoids spilling a lot of blood, but we still see some pretty brutal moments. A street thug named Taylor ruthlessly shoots someone in the chest during a robbery, and an ensuing struggle causes someone else to be shot in the neck. Taylor holds that second man as he bleeds out.

A station full of policemen is attacked and the officers are systematically murdered. We see the dead men and women on the floor and slumped against the walls. A wounded officer is dragged in and shot execution style. (The fatal blast to the skull is kept off screen.) FBI agents and a SWAT team arrive outside the station and shoot in and around the area. They use an explosive charge to blast their way through a locked front entrance.

A battle between soldier types dressed in futuristic armor sends victims flying. Weapons obliterate huge sections of concrete wall and rebar. The battle also leaves a number of soldiers dead: One corpse is left headless and sizzling. Elijah wields the same kind of high-tech weapon and destroys quite a bit of scenery with it. He starts by demolishing a pool table, then blasts out walls and smashes a pickup truck, flipping it into the air. Some people end up being vaporized on the spot by that powerful weapon and others are hit by flying debris and killed as they're smashed through walls.

Time stops at one point, freezing an explosion and a gunshot in place. The bullet is readjusted during this moment of frozen time and, when things start up again, someone is shot fatally in the forehead. People are pummeled by a group of assailants. People punch faces and kick crotches. A guard is killed by a vicious blow.

Someone displays scars made by cigarette burns—inflicted by parents when the victim was a child.

Crude or Profane Language

One f-word (and an unfinished f-word) along with 15 or so s-words. There are a handful of uses each of "h---," "a--" and "b--ch." God's name is misused three times. Crude references are made about male genitalia. Someone flips a middle finger.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Characters drink beer, shots of alcohol and swig from open bottles in a variety of settings. While at a strip club, Jimmy drinks profusely, filling a small table with empty shot glasses and beer bottles.

Taylor smokes and offers Jimmy a joint (but they don't light up).

Other Negative Elements

The street thug Taylor repeatedly refers to Elijah as Jimmy's "little colored brother." He also breaks the law on numerous occasions. In one situation, a gas station attendant notes that the bathroom is for employees only, so Taylor urinates on the floor. (Full frontal visuals are kept just off screen.)

Jimmy is, in a way, cut from the same cloth. He doesn't murder anyone, but he does steal—even from his own father. And Jimmy makes stupid choices for his young brother, too—from taking him to a strip club to letting him drive illegally.

Conclusion

The truth of the matter is, Kin is darker and far less enjoyable than its publicity materials might have you think.

This movie feels like four different movies stitched together into an odd patchwork construct. It sets itself up as something of a futuristic superhero-like thriller at first, then flirts with being a brothers-bonding road pic, spends most of its time wallowing around in seedy noir grit, and ultimately tacks on a sci-fi ending with a pin.

But the stitches in this patchwork don't really hold together all that well.

There's definitely a sense that the film's directors wanted to break out of the typical movie genre box and set up a new sci-fi franchise. And if you squint just right you can even find a cautionary tale hidden here, with the teen protagonist delivering a kid-worthy message about doing the right thing. But one can only hope that there aren't many kids or teens hearing it.

Though given a PG-13 label, Kin sports dark, nasty underpinnings—the psychopath street boss, the strip club sleaziness, the thug brutality, the police squad massacre—that all feel like they ought to have easily earned this movie an R rating.

Did I mention it's dark?

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Myles Truitt as Elijah; James Franco as Taylor Balik; Jack Reynor as Jimmy; Zoë Kravitz as Milly; Dennis Quaid as Hal

Director

Josh Baker ( )Jonathan Baker ( )

Distributor

Summit Entertainment

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

August 31, 2018

On Video

November 20, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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