I’ll bite. You take a broken-home family drama, throw in one single out-of-place science-fiction element that has just enough snazzy gadgetry to make it something shiny and different, and you’ve captured my interest.

Elijah (Myles Pruitt) is a 14-year-old boy growing up adopted by a white family in a working-class part of Detroit. He’s a good kid at heart, but we’re taken down the road of a typical fall-between-the-cracks story when he’s suspended from school for fighting, is caught stealing to make ends meet, and is all but neglected by his hardline authoritative single dad with a heart of gold, played by Dennis Quaid.

Elijah’s whole world is turned upside-down when his older brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) is released from prison, and he finds a supercool ray gun while scavenging for scrap metal. The owners of the weapon as well as frenemies of Jimmy begin chasing the brothers down, and they enjoy some familial bonding as they road-trip across the country. Along the way, they pick up a wayward stripper played by Zoe Kravitz, who doesn’t seem to really have a place in the film.

If you’re not buying what I’m selling, I don’t blame you. Every aspect of the film was poorly done with the exception of two. Firstly, James Franco channels his inner Travis Bickel as Taylor, a psychopath chasing Jimmy straight out of Detroit with no regard for law enforcement or injury to himself or his posse. Franco excels at exaggerated characters, and this performance is severely entertaining. Secondly, there is a brief, five-minute window into another realm near the end that brought me to the edge of my seat, then lost my attention just as quickly when it ended.

Presented as a twist, we get a fantastic ending… to a different film. The remarkably ordinary narrative is seemingly paused and amped up to some out-of-body experience complete with the best characters and actor in the entire film, and then it vanishes, like a dream, resuming its disappointing run to the credits.

This appears to me to be the type of film that probably looked pretty cool on paper. Written and directed by Jonathan and Josh Baker, there was clearly some unfulfilled childhood fantasy or traumatic experience in their past that led in part or in whole to the creation of the film. In their defense, some of the visual effects were pretty cool, and there were several subtle homages to 1980s and 1990s films of the genre that may or may not have been conscious decisions, but that doesn’t make this an enjoyable experience as a whole.

“Kin” left me feeling both betrayed and confused. For about five minutes near the end, this was nothing short of spectacular. Hinting at what might have been, and reminiscent of some of the better sci-fi films in recent memory (“The Matrix,” “Looper), the transition from mediocre to special was more abrupt than you typically see on screen. 

Myles Truitt is a solid young actor, but this wasn’t a great use of his potential. There was an awkwardness during the strip club scene, or with Kravitz’ character in general that I couldn’t really shake and there was also a limited range of emotion displayed, but I suppose that might have been the character. There was a lot more that could have been done with the young protagonist.

Michael B. Jordan shows up just in the nick of time to salvage what could have easily been one of the worst films of the year, instantly freezes it, and moves it into territory that has massive potential if the filmmakers had just found that magic 90 minutes ago.

I ultimately wanted more show and less tell from the climax, but I would be lying if I said I thought there would be any coming back from the first few acts. It’s not for a lack of trying, and I always respect and admire original ideas in film, especially in the sci-fi genre, but the execution was doomed from the start. If you are looking for a film in this realm that did hit the mark, see 2016’s “Midnight Special.”