KIN,  US, 2018.  starring Myles Truitt, Jack Raynor, Zoe Kravitz, James Franco, Dennis Quaid. Directed by Jonathan and Jesse Baker. 104 minutes. Rated M (Science-fiction, violence and coarse language).

With a title like Kin, the main expectations might be a story of family and bonding. And, in some ways, it is.

There are quite some intriguing elements in the screenplay. However, there are three main strands of the narrative, eventually coming together though a bit disparate at times along the way. Since there are touches of science-fiction introduced early, the film is a blend of gritty realism and fantasy speculation. Credibility and plausibility are not a major feature.

At the centre of the film is a young African-American boy, Elijah, Eli, played quite effectively by Myles Truitt. He is bullied at school because of his mother. Suddenly Dennis Quaid appears as his stepfather, a stern man of principle, who warms Eli to be wary of his step-brother, Jimmy (Jack Raynor) who is being released from six years in prison.

Some difficulties at the dinner table, Jimmy going off to see a group of thugs, led by James Franco being sleazily brutal, about paying off debt. Then, we are off on a cross-country car trip, Jimmy and Eli. There is a series of adventures, especially when Jimmy takes his young brother to a disreputable bar, drinks, gets into a fight with the owner, and making friends with one of the dancers at the bar, Milly, Zoe Kravitz.

It is here that the science-fiction opens up, an ultra-powerful weapon that Eli has found in a warehouse where he used to collect scrap metal and has taken this strange box with him, discovering its lethal power.

There is an episode at a gambling den at the back of a farm. There is an episode at the casinos in Las Vegas. Jimmy wants to confess his guilt about what has happened to Eli but is interrupted leading to a drama between the two brothers, an arrest in Nevada, being interned in the police precinct – with the thugs attacking the station, a rather brutal shootout, the FBI also arriving on the scene and, some mysterious bike riders (including Michael B. Jordan who produced the film) and an explanation of the science-fiction elements.

This is one of those you might like it, you might not, depending how intrigued you are with the various strands, especially the science-fiction, and how it all comes together.

Studiocanal                                                  Released August 30th

Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.

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