Kin is that rare combination of science fiction and suspense that truly holds your attention throughout. What starts as a family drama quickly segues into unexpected territory. Directors Jonathan and Josh Baker deliver a small story with huge implications. The pieces build to a final act with an absolute whopper payoff. I was transfixed watching this film.

Myles Truitt stars as Eli Solinksi, the fourteen year old adopted son of a hard-working construction foreman (Dennis Quaid) in Detroit. Eli's older brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), comes home after six years in prison. Jimmy's return is no celebration. Their father is bitterly disappointed with his biological son's choices. He gives Jimmy two weeks to get out of the house.

Eli has been stealing copper wiring from abandoned warehouses for money. He sneaks out one fateful night to get away from the family drama. Eli's search for loot leads to an incredible discovery. He finds an ultra-powerful, seemingly alien weapon. Meanwhile, Jimmy's stint in prison has consequences for the entire family. He owes $60,000 dollars to a ruthless gun trafficker (James Franco). Jimmy is forced to run and take Miles with him. He thinks they're just fleeing from cutthroat criminals. The beings that lost the weapon come back to retrieve it.

Let's address the issue of a teenager finding a gun. Normally this plot device treads on dangerous territory. Youth gun violence is an epidemic that should never be glorified. Kin is a science fiction film. The weapon is clearly not of this earth. Eli is treated with a degree of sophistication by screenwriter Daniel Casey. For a decent chunk of the runtime, Eli doesn't understand the weapon's capabilities. Its origin is the basis for the story. While I can understand those who are uncomfortable with the gun aspect, Kin's climax brings the entire plot into focus. There's a lot more happening here. Eli is not a foolish kid out to start trouble with an alien bazooka.

Kin's title is perfectly descriptive. The heart of the film is the relationship between Eli and Jimmy. At first, Jimmy accuses his father of having a "replacement son". The brothers develop a deep bond as they travel. Jimmy, who makes a lot of bad decisions, learns the hard way how to be a big brother. Eli, a loner with no friends, finds a best friend in his brother. Kin has a strong emotional core. Jack Reynor and Myles Truitt have excellent sibling chemistry.

Kin's finale drops several epic reveals. I thought they were clever and slickly alluded to. The bombshells may seem out of nowhere, but all the clues were carefully laid out. The breadcrumbs don't resonate because they're so casually placed and innocuous. Kin doesn't spoon-feed the answers. A few questions are left wide open. Kin also leaves you with a helluva hook. A bigger mystery awaits in the potential sequel.

Lionsgate Films ends the summer movie season with a dandy. Kin is a fun sci-fi adventure with a whole lot of twists and turns. I sincerely hope the gun theme doesn't discourage audiences, or invite unfair criticism. Kin is pop cinema escapism, enjoy it as such.

Julian Roman