By: Kevin Jordan
I cannot explain myself.
Do you know what the best Labor Day weekend box office (U.S. only) result is for any movie since 1982? Take a guess. Lower. No, lower. $30.5 million. Now, try to guess what movie earned that number.* You know what – forget that. Try to name any movie that opened on Labor Day weekend in your lifetime. Right – nothing. Mid-August through the end of October is hot-garbage time at the theater. Occasionally, we will get a sleeper-hit like It in September or the random horror movie that everyone flocks to like Saw. Kin is the latest film to test the Labor Day waters and it should have just gone fishing with its dad rather than try to entertain people.
*Halloween (2007). The fourth best opener was One Direction: This is Us and I am now very sad.
For reasons that refuse to reveal themselves to me, I kind of liked Kin. It is not a very good movie. I can explain why it is not a good movie (wait for it). I have been wracking my brain for three days to tease out whatever it is about this film that tickled my brain in a positive manner. Nothing. Now, I am just hoping that writing words, sentences, and paragraphs for a while will unlock the secret. So, here is why my friend did not like Kin.
(SPOILER ALERT. This movie contains only slightly more science fiction than a romantic comedy, so I am going to talk about it.)
The movie poster is pretty cool, depicting a teenager holding a futuristic gun, two seeming aliens of some kind, and a unique font for the movie title. On the surface, it reminds me a lot of Terminator. Based on this, my friend and I were both expecting a good sci-fi romp. What both of us failed to notice on the poster is the tagline that is somewhat hidden in a beam of light coming from overhead. It reads “No force is stronger than family.” Don’t mind me…that sound you hear is just me dry-heaving.
The family taking up the vast majority of the film is Elijah Solinski (Myles Truitt), his father, Hal (Dennis Quaid), and brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor). Hal is a blue-collar working man who spouts tired cliches to excuse being a lousy father. “I’m hard on you because I love you” or “I’m just trying to do the best I can.” Fathers who say these things out loud are saying them to convince themselves of it, and their kids know it. Elijah certainly does. Then, there is Jimmy, just returned home from spending six years in prison for theft. Hal has begrudgingly agreed to let Jimmy live at home until Jimmy gets a job, but when Jimmy asks Hal to help him get a job at Hal’s construction site, Hal refuses because he cannot vouch for Jimmy. There is no mom in this family because she died sometime in the past and we have now completed the tropiest of movie families.
While out scrounging for scrap metal to sell, Elijah finds a bunch of dead soldiers in strange armor and the afore-mentioned gun. A strange noise scares Elijah off, but he returns later to recover the gun and finds that the bodies are gone. A short time later, two more soldiers turn up, scan the area, discover the gun missing, and begin hunting Elijah. Meanwhile, Jimmy owes sixty-thousand dollars to Taylor Balik (James Franco), a crime lord who charged Jimmy for protection while Jimmy was in prison. Taylor wants his money, so Jimmy offers up Hal’s office safe (at the work site), which inexplicably has that much cash in it. The robbery goes wrong, Hal is (very) predictably murdered, and Jimmy bolts with Elijah in tow.
The rest of the film is a chase movie and you have seen it before, but done far better in other movies. Logan. Terminator (1 or 2). Dogma. Heck, even I am Number Four. Kin tries to convince us of some brotherly love connection blossoming as Jimmy drags Elijah to seedy motels, casinos, and a strip club for some reason. Granted, the strip club is only rated PG-13 (apparently, tops and bottoms are mandatory), but even stripper Milly (Zoe Kravitz) calls out Jimmy for bringing a fourteen-year old into what is clearly a discount, clothed-titty bar.
Eventually, everything comes to a head in a massive shootout at a police station, ala Terminator, but trite. Yet, despite the movie doing everything it could to make the audience want to leave early, I never found myself losing interest. Was some part of me wondering if Milly was going to make Elijah a man? Was I holding out hope that the space soldiers were going to slaughter everybody? Was I expecting Elijah’s gun to be more than just a gun? None of those things came to fruition and, still, no hate from me.
Generic characters, a rambling and drunk plot, and as little science fiction as possible doomed this movie for my friend. I still do not know why I am giving this movie a shrug and a pass, because, by all rights, I should not have. The plot line is every young-adult book or movie ever made. A young kid finds out he or she is special and has to avoid being murdered while learning whatever skill it is that makes him or her special and I just dry-heaved a little more. Harry Potter, Beautiful Creatures, Divergent, I am Number Four, Jumper. I am sure you can name more. The important thing to remember is that if you are going to go fishing, you are not missing anything by doing it over Labor Day weekend. Probably.
Rating: Ask for all of your money back because you are not me.