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In the teen sci-fi thriller “Kin,” a shy 14-year-old kid finds unearthly powers in the vacant warehouses of Detroit — an intriguing, if standard, young-adult premise that dissolves before your eyes in this inept and erratic directorial debut.

It stars newcomer Myles Truitt as the young Eli, whose adoptive family could be cheerier. Dennis Quaid plays his gruff blue-collar father; the mother is gone; and his older brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor) is just getting out of prison after six years. A not-great situation quickly goes downhill when Jimmy’s brutal debtors (led by James Franco’s maniac gangster) come to collect.

When things get bloody, Jimmy misleads Eli about what’s happened, and the two flee westward with a bag of cash, uprooting from the dark streets of Detroit for a cross-country chase that, to a surprising degree, plays out at a Midwestern strip club, where they meet Zoe Kravitz’s stripper, and a Reno casino. Before leaving, Eli, while wandering the vacant buildings on his bike, comes across an alien gun that proves predictably handy in the showdowns to come, but that also sends a pair of very human-sized aliens on his path, speeding along on motorcycles.

But should a movie about a parentless 14-year-old be centered on a gun, one that only he can fire? Is that empowering? The underlying odiousness of the gun violence — both regular and ray — in “Kin” is particularly questionable given its PG-13 rating.

But the bigger problems in “Kin” have more to do with the script by Daniel Casey. Given the film’s title, and that the filmmakers are themselves twins, you would expect the brother relationship at the heart of the movie to be something more than it is.

 

‘Kin’

Grade: D

Rated PG-13 for gun violence and intense action, suggestive material, language, thematic elements and drinking.

Running time: 102 minutes

 

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