Cyberpunk, futurism and retro feels: sci-fi films are increasingly sticking to this format. We’ve seen high-tech blended with low-life dystopia in Ready Player One, a retro and hyper-real visual style in Thor: Ragnarok, and heard David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and George Harrison join an awesome mixtape blend of ’60s, ’70s and ’80s nostalgic tracks in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. Now comes Kin, a story about a young troubled boy who discovers a futuristic pulse weapon left behind by strange black flak-metal garbed assailants.
An otherworldly weapon coupled with a chase/road-trip movie scenario: with a tried-and-tested plot line, you’d think there wouldn’t be much of a story to flesh out. But Kin’s simplicity, great pacing and solid lead of Myles Truitt, playing Hal Solinski’s adoptive son, Eli, is well worth catching.
Coming from the creative minds behind Arrival and Stranger Things, this surprisingly little-known movie puts its risks where it counts. One of these is the (well-timed?) casting of James Franco as tattooed, out-for-blood creep who chills with this threatening, devil-may-care attitude, something that works well considering the implications of his #MeToo sexual harassment/power abuse accusations.
Next comes Dennis Quaid who plays a gruff fatherly figure, channelling a bit of Jeff Bridge’s patriarchal role in Tron: Legacy. Quaid has been appearing in a few sci-fi movies over the years, such as Frequency, Pandorum and the more well-known The Day After Tomorrow. Each of these big production movies is a ‘thought experiment’, as Ursula Le Guin would have put it, but sometimes the ideas don’t always pay off, and actors can get lost in the science or doomed world settings… So it’s good to see him remind us that he really can act, and with emotion.
Last comes the final gamble: a cliff-hanger ending reveal detailing Eli’s true past and blood ‘Kin’ with some very ‘Dark Tower’ revelations which leaves us with more backstory questions.
The sci-fi element is not always the focus of the plot in Kin, which allows the story to breathe with a little character work and drama. But the film also pays off by being playful. I kept waiting like a spellbound kid for the next moment Eli fires his wall-shattering pulse discharge rifle. And the subtle nods to Terminator 2 are fun and never overly in-your-face. JKA Short
‘Kin’ is in cinemas now.