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KIN gets 8/10 Have raygun will travel

Directed by Josh and Jonathan Baker

Starring Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor, James Franco, Zoë Kravitz


Haven’t we all dreamed of finding an alien death ray lying around an abandoned building at some time in our childhood? OK… that might just be me. While scavenging for scrap in an abandoned Detroit building young Eli (Myles Truitt) does find such a weapon, little suspecting how it’ll change his life. With the help of his recently paroled brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), Eli finds himself fleeing across state lines, with a criminal gang after Jimmy and mysterious high tech aliens pursuing Eli’s gun.

Kin is a nostalgic cinematic successor to the Spielbergian spirit of 80s. However, instead of reducing this to a plethora of pop culture references (like the master’s own vain attempt to form a distilled concentrate of Memberberries in Ready Player One), Kin runs with the quintessence of the era and creates something fresh. It draws inspiration from works such as E.T and The Last Starfighter, but also seeks further afield for stimulus, like indie cinema and crime stories. The result is a spectacular mash up, that manages to keep a tonal consistency throughout its run. Like great Thai cooking, it is bewildering collection of ingredients, but they are harmonised by careful application in the right balance.

Hence Kin is a crime story, a hero’s journey, a coming of age tale, a family drama, a road trip, and a bit of a redemption arc, all with the underpinning of a little science fiction. All those differing elements add punch here, creating a greater whole. The Baker brothers hit that tonal consistency managing to convey the story clearly and succinctly with a beautiful visual style. Sure there’s plenty of sci-fi Easter Eggs, running the gamut from Terminator to the lesser remembered cyberpunk anime Bubblegum Crisis, but they never overwhelm. Instead the focus is on familial relationships, as the brothers drive across states in their attempt to flee the various forces (both criminal and alien) aligned against them.

As such, a lot rests upon the shoulders of young actor Myles Truitt, which he bares exceptionally well. Truitt brings a quiet wisdom to the role, but also allows himself to bubble over with childish glee (for example when being taught to do doughnuts in a hotel car park, or blowing up haystacks with plasma weaponry while on a sugar high). His growth and acceptance of responsibility is believable. By contrast, despite being the elder, Jack Reynor (Detroit) allows the role to shine with immaturity, but despite the constant lies and the character’s often reprehensible actions, brings a great deal of likeability to Jimmy. Through the course of the film, Truitt and Reynor bounce off each other spectacularly bringing a real chemistry to the sibling bond. Add to this the exceptional support cast of Dennis Quaid, Zoë Kravitz, and James Franco (gleefully playing a mad alpha dog gangster), a wonderfully moody soundtrack by Mogwai, and this is really something special.

Moving, entertaining, and just beautiful to watch, Kin is a strong debut for the first time feature directors, bringing a wonderful symmetry to popular and independent cinema. Set phasers for fun.


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