Despite its marketing, Kin is barely a sci-fi film. Sure, its protagonist Eli (newcomer Myles Truitt) finds a fancy alien super-weapon and is hunted cross-country by aliens resembling Daft-Punk-cosplayers, but the story largely centres on Eli’s relationship with his ex-con brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) and their road trip fleeing from James Franco’s unhinged drug dealer.
There’s no reason Kin couldn’t have used its sci-fi hook to examine the degradation of the American working class, as it promises in a first act roaming through the abandoned, dilapidated warehouses of modern Detroit. That’s presumably the intent, with the film paying reference to films like American Honey and Killing Them Softly (and the first two Terminators, natch). Films that surveyed the wreckage of today’s USA.
Despite the Baker brothers doing decent work behind the camera, Kin struggles to overcome an undercooked screenplay. The characters are clichés, from Zoë Kravitz’s stripper with a heart of gold to Franco’s implausibly vengeful antagonist. It’s a contradictory script; one minute we’re sympathising with an ex-con denied employment, the next he’s ripping his would-be employer off. Eli waxes rhapsodic about “doing the right thing even when it’s hard” before murdering people with his “raygun”. A sadly missed opportunity.