Mini-Review: Next of Kin (1989)

Next of Kin (1989)

Starring Patrick Swayze, Liam Neeson, Adam Baldwin, Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Ben Stiller, Andreas Katsulas, Michael J. Pollard, Ted Levine, Del Close

Directed by John Irvin

Expectations: Low, but the star power here is worth a shot.


Patrick Swayze plays a tough Chicago cop who hails originally from the backwoods that has to step up to the challenge when the mob murders his brother! His justice isn’t swift enough for his other brother (Liam Neeson), who comes down from the mountain on a hunt for vengeance. Sounds good, right?

Unfortunately, it’s just OK. Next of Kin has definite flashes of greatness, such as the train rooftop sequence, but more often than not, the film is characterized by mediocre dialogue and a boring plot. It’s also much too long for its own good. The sheer amount of future star talent should not be overlooked though, and Next of Kin will forever remain of interest to film fans for this. Liam Neeson is especially good as Swayze’s brother. While it may be a footnote to his illustrious career, it is another great performance from the always dependable Neeson.

In yesterday’s look at Winter’s Bone, I noted that the characters in it were realistic and didn’t exhibit the traditional stereotyped hillbilly personas. Next of Kin fares surprisingly well in this regard as well, with the country folk never feeling stupid or the butt of cheap jokes. There’s definitely a similar air of “You don’t fuck with country folk,” reinforced by the scene where members of Swayze’s family all band together and take down the mafia men with crossbows in a shadowy graveyard.

Next of Kin isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but it is pretty fun in spots and worth watching to see so many young actors packed into one movie. Also, I’m glad Ben Stiller lost that unibrow.

Shutter Island (2010)

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Max von Sydow, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, John Carroll Lynch, Elias Koteas, Patricia Clarkson

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Expectations: High.


Scorsese’s first film back after winning Best Picture and Director for The Departed is Shutter Island, an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name. Much as I’d like not to say it, Scorsese’s best films are behind him but Shutter Island is still leagues better than your traditional mainstream fare. His last truly great film in my eyes was Kundun, a long 13 years ago, and while Shutter Island doesn’t even come close to its level, it shows that he still holds the power to make a good film.

The story follows Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshall from Boston played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) as they make their way to Ashecliff Hospital. Their case is to find Rachel Solando, a patient that somehow escaped from her cell and has gone missing. I will leave it at that as a good portion of the fun comes from unraveling the mystery.

Continue reading Shutter Island (2010) →

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