Kin  1/2

Directed by Australian brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker—newcomers expanding their 15-minute short Bag Man into a heavy-handed Terminator rip-off…err, homage—Kin is a movie of mixed messages if there ever was one. It presents us with a 14-year-old black hero named Eli (Myles Truitt of OWN’s Queen Sugar), a good kid who was adopted and raised by a couple of working-class white parents in the urban wasteland of Detroit. His mother has died, however, leaving his father Hal (Dennis Quaid, bringing lived-in gravitas to too little screen time) to drill life lessons into a boy who’s just been suspended from school. Chief among Hal’s lessons: Don’t be like older brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor), a ne’er-do-well who’s spent six years in jail for robbery. Alas, Jimmy owes $60,000 in “protection money” to tattooed hothead Taylor (James Franco), a deranged gang leader who demands his cash immediately—lest Hal and/or Eli will pay with their lives. When Hal is caught in the crossfire, Jimmy refuses to tell Eli that their dad is dead, then drags the teen along on a road trip, with the promise that Hal will join them along the way. Eli’s in possession of a alien laser canon he found beside a headless corpse—and he proceeds to do nefarious things with it, egged on by his ex-con kin. I guess dad was right about Jimmy. To see this duo set off on an adventure that finds them joined by a stripper with a heart of gold (Zoë Kravitz, who needs a better agent) leaves a terrible taste in the mouth, especially given the gleeful empowerment Eli feels when firing his deadly gun. (At Assembly Row, Boston CommonSouth Bay and in the suburbs.)

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