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This gritty but somewhat intriguing crime thriller with an overlay of science fiction finds an ex-con (Jack Reynor) on the run from the half-crazed head (James Franco) of a protection racket with his 14-year-old African-American adopted brother (Myles Truitt) in tow. Unbeknownst to his sibling, the youngster has accidentally acquired an alien firearm of tremendous destructive force, and the two are also being pursued by a pair of extraterrestrials who want the weapon back. In expanding their 2014 short “Bag Man” into their feature debut, brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker explore shades of right and wrong via a road trip through seamy swaths of Rust Belt and rural America. Grown viewers willing to tag along will find the innocence of Truitt's character compared or contrasted with the ethical ambiguities that keep getting Reynor’s petty thief in trouble, the maternal instincts of a goodhearted stripper (Zoe Kravitz) they meet up with along the way and the certainties laid down for the lads by their strict working-class dad (Dennis Quaid) who serves as the film's moral compass. It’s thoughtful fare, but not for everyone.

Watch out for: Strong but bloodless violence, including gunplay and a beating, partial nudity in a strip club, at least one rough term, frequent crude and occasional crass language and an obscene gesture.

Rated: L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; MPAA: PG-13

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018