It’s one surprise after another in “Kin,” the debut feature of Jonathan and Josh Baker. It begins with an adopted kid, Elijah (Myles Truitt), discovering a bunch of dead soldiers and a futuristic laser-blaster in an abandoned building. It goes on to focus on Elijah’s brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), an ex-con who owes money to a ruthless lowlife, Taylor (James Franco).
Also involved are a too-strict father (Dennis Quaid), a stripper with a heart of gold (Zoe Kravitz as Milly), two possibly alien motorcyclists and a flinty FBI agent (Carrie Coon). The story, roughly, includes a robbery, a murder, a road trip, a climactic shootout with that blaster and -- just when you thought you’d seen everything -- a shimmering space-time portal.
The biggest surprise of all, though, is that this baffling movie ever got made.
It would be nice to report that “Kin” is a clever genre-bender along the lines of “From Dusk Till Dawn” or “The Cabin in the Woods,” where every new development is a wild left turn down an even crazier street. Instead, “Kin” feels like a dozen random ideas stapled together into a screenplay (by Daniel Casey). That may be exactly what happened: “Kin” is based on the Baker Brothers’ award-winning short film, “Bag Man,” and now includes just about any movie-trope that will help pad the running time to feature-length.
The participation of Michael B. Jordan as executive producer may explain why there are some major talents on board, but at any rate they're little help. Franco merely reprises his bizarro “Spring Breakers” role. (His best moment comes when he urinates in front of a convenience-store cashier just to prove a point.) Kravitz has so little to do that you or I could have replaced her. Reynor tries to make us like Jimmy, but the character is toxic -- a selfish liar and thoughtless fool whose main talent is for getting innocent people killed. Sadly, the film mistakes him for a charming rogue. (If the film has anything like a saving grace, it’s the dreamy score by the Scottish post-rockers Mogwai.)
The big reveal in “Kin” is a sci-fi twist copied directly from one of the most well-known film franchises in history. It’s an infuriating way to end what was already a maddening experience.