‘Kin’ Bravely Ventures Where a Lot of Films Have Been Before

In the movie “Kin,” “a good man does the right thing even when it’s not easy.” That’s what grizzled Hal (played by Dennis Quaid) tells his adopted son, Elijah (Myles Truitt). That is the theme of this sci-fi road trip film. Fourteen year-old Elijah may not truly appreciate it at first, but after an hour and a half of being chased by vicious gangsters and super-human aliens, Elijah is ready to go the high ground and do the right thing even if it’s not easy.

It doesn’t come naturally to little Elijah. He is suspended from school for fighting. He sneaks into chained-up warehouses and makes off with copper pipes and wires to sell later to a scrap dealer. Hal is upset when he finds out and determined to punish his wayward son.

But first Elijah has to stand in line. Older brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) is released from prison owing a homicidal thug Taylor Balik (James Franco) sixty thousand dollars. Jimmy doesn’t have that much and with epic thoughtlessness, invites Balik to help himself to Daddy’s safe. Hal interrupts the robbery. All the wrong people die. And Jimmy and Elijah find themselves on the road, fleeing from the vengeful Balik.

At first, one could confuse this film for either a family tragedy or a gritty crime story, if it wasn’t for the aliens. During one of his early scavenger hunts, Elijah comes across dead bodies not from this world. He makes off with one of their weapons, a flat boxy ray gun that responds to Eli’s touch. And when Elijah joins Jimmy in his escape, Eli brings the ray gun along.

“Kin” is not a movie that pursues originality. At another time, it would have been a “B” movie, one with a smaller budget and frequent screenings on late-night TV or drive-ins. Along the line, some executive felt this had an “A” movie appeal.

Established actors were cast and they contribute earnest and heart-warming performances. Dennis Quaid as the father Hal is a rough-on-the-outside but tender-on-the-inside type of dad. Zoë Kravitz is the stripper with the heart of gold, giving pre-teen Elijah advice like going to strip joints doesn’t make you a man.

James Franco makes for a brutal villain. In a scene reminiscent of “The Terminator,” Franco and his buddies strut through a police station slaughtering cops as they go. As a bad guy, he comes off as convincing and particularly nasty with nasty tattoos.

Jack Reynor does well with a role that alternates between being a criminal loser and a loving older brother. A much of the time he is a lot more appealing than an ex-con responsible for his father’s murder has a right to be. Maybe it’s the screenplay that can’t decide on which side to come down on. He’s tragically sympathetic when caught robbing his father’s safe, but the film never truly reaches that depth of emotion again. Though it tries.

Myles Truitt as Elijah is strong enough to carry the movie. He leaves one wishing he had a stronger part.

The brothers Jonathon and Josh Baker direct with a quick pace and a solid talent for action. The screenplay by Daniel Casey, based on a short film by the Baker brothers called “Bag Man,” takes us to places we’ve been before with an ending reveal that appears and then its gone, lingering only long enough to suggest a possible sequel.

“Kin” is an unexceptional but fast paced entertainment. It’s a comic book movie without the mega budget that encourages us to “do the right thing even when it’s not easy.”

Kin” opens Aug. 30 in theaters nationwide.