Next of Kin Reviews
Next of Kin takes a rather liberal view at a group of people not normally dealt with in films...mountain people...or hillbillies if you will. Swayze plays a former country boy who moved to the big city, became a cop, married his love, and is now urbanized himself. His little brother who aims to follow up in his footsteps ends up getting himself murdered by the crime family, Isabella. The rest of his "kin" want Swayze to avenge the death but Swayze is determined to let justice take it's course. Again, much like Raw Deal, Next of Kin is about vengeance and anger and it all bottles up until one big explosion of revenge in the end. The big difference is that Next of Kin stays interesting through the whole movie right up to and including the end and still has some really great action scenes to boot.
The cast as previously mentioned is very well done fortunately for Mr. Irvin. Swayze plays a convincing cop and mountain boy and him and Helen Hunt have decent chemistry for their brief on screen moments. Adam Baldwin as the blood thirsty villain does a good job (not as good his later performance in Joss Whedon's Serenity (aka Firefly) as Jayne but he is convincing as the bad guy. Ben Stiller's brief role is also quite good as the smarter villain but he doesn't last long. Overall Next of Kin is a decent entry in the eighties action genre. It has it's moments and is worth checking out for those full of nostalgia.
Great movie, this is how family should stick together.
It doesn't take all that long before it becomes clear that Next of Kin is lacking in any kind of story. Unlike the other Patrick Swayze action venture released the same year titled Road House, there is no glamour or energy in Next of Kin which causes it to suffer in both in comparison and in general. By comparison, Next of Kin is far inferior because it follows the same basic premise of Patrick Swayze serving as a one man sheriff getting into a lot of fights at bars all over town. But there is no fun in it. There is no style, there is no originality, and there are neerly no cheap gimmicks to keep audiences going. It's surprising how many big names are lined up for the cast of Next of Kin, particularly considering how many of the actors would go on to have very high profile careers such as Helen Hunt who would win an Academy Award and Liam Neeson who is one of today's most recognised celebrities, as well as Ben Stiller, Adam Baldwin and Bill Paxton. The fact that they all got together for the one film is interesting, but it capitalises on none of their talents and simply wastes their time as well as it wastes ours.
Next of Kin just feels lifeless, and its premise ensures that the only way it can succeed is as a guilty pleasure. But the issue is that even then it takes itself too seriously. Next of Kin is too focused on telling its lacklustre story to put the appropriate amount of action in which is a shame because it ensures that there is no action up until 63 minutes in the film. By then, viewers will already have been so bored by the film that their opinions would have been made up. That was the case with me, because especially that fact that the entire first hour of Next of Kin came up way too short was more than enough to keep me from being entertained by it. The general premise in it is a dull and basic revenge tale where the act demanding vengeance occurs shortly into the film but the vengeance itself requires audiences to wait around for way to long to witness. Audiences have to wait 63 minutes for the film to get the slightest bit interesting at which time it turns into a bar brawl between Liam Neeson and Patrick Swayze which is far superior in terms of surface value than the actual execution. It's really simple to explain just how flawed Next of Kin is: it squanders its talented cast on a story which is not engaging at all and a director who is unable to elevate it beyond the cheap limitations of its weak script. It is nothing more than a forgettable film which tries to be a crime drama but lacks a decent story and has not enough action to be the guilty pleasure it could have.
The visual style of the film is even far too conventional which really works to point out just how cheap the production is. It's incredible that Next of Kin had almost the same budget as Road House and yet looks a lot cheaper. The difference between the two would have to boil down to the difference in director. Rowdy Herrington gave a certain spirit to Road House which made it a top notch B-movie and a great guilty pleasure, while John Irvin simply used the money for its most basic purposes. He seems to have no creative vision for the film, and so it all ends up looking like an episode of a cheap crime drama stretched to feature length, and thanks to the lacklustre story it genuinely feels like one too.
Frankly, everything in Next of Kin is just too boring. I had hoped for the film to feature Patrick Swayze either kicking some ass on a consistent basis or shooting up some bad guys, but the quantity of action came up way too short in quantity and the quality was not that great. Even his screen time was surprisingly low. It is a lot more of a story oriented film, but the fact is that the story is sh*t and there is no screenplay or visual style to protect from that. Next of Kin is an example of a film built on nothing but weak elements which is a senseless and slow moving bore marketed as a Patrick Swayze action vehicle despite failing to bring any of his good aspects into the part.
The presence of Liam Neeson is a welcome one. While the material does not come close to living up to his extent of skill, his casting is a welcome one simply because of the fact that it's Liam Neeson in the role and because to a certain extent he is able to use grit to engage in the role. He made a fairly compelling case in his role. He surely stands out from the cast by being intense and involved in the material, more involved than anyone could expect considering the nature of the film, so it is at least good to see him helping the film out slightly.
But despite Liam Neeson's presence, Next of Kin is a boring and uninvolving crime drama with no originality, little potential for Patrick Swayze to work with and genuinely nothing to really be entertained by.