Truman Gates (Patrick Swayze), raised in Appalachia, has migrated to Chicago to become a police officer. Married to Jessie (Helen Hunt), who has a baby on the way, he seems to have made the transition from hillbilly to respectable law man.
When the local coal mine closes, Truman persuades his younger brother Gerald (Bill Paxton) to look for work in Chicago. But things take a turn for the worse when soon after landing a job as a truck driver, Gerald’s vehicle is hijacked by mobsters and Gerald is killed by Joey Rosellini (Adam Baldwin), the nephew of mob boss Poppa John Isabella (Andreas Katsulas).
Truman returns to Kentucky for the funeral. When his surviving brother, Briar Gates (Liam Neeson), insists on a traditional mountain blood feud, Truman urges his family to let the police deal with Gerald’s murder. Briar finds Truman’s reluctance to be disgraceful. Determined to deal with the murderers in his own way, Briar travels to Chicago in search of his youngest brother’s killer.
Meanwhile, Truman desperately tries to solve the crime before Briar takes revenge on his own. He approaches John Isabella and explains the mountain code to him. He suggests that if Gerald’s murderer surrenders peacefully, it would save them both a lot of trouble. John, however, refuses on general principle, and Truman is left to continue his investigation.
After arriving in town, Briar gets a room at a flop house. Before he leaves, he gives the front desk clerk the phone number of his cousin back home and asks him to call the number if he doesn’t return by morning. Not wasting any time, Briar goes looking for information on the man who killed Gerald and, during his search, shoots up a local mob hangout.
When Truman arrives a little later, Joey, embarrassed by the attack, says he is not pressing charges against Briar. He intends to “handle things” himself. When Poppa John says he feels things are getting out of hand, Joey dismisses the threat, saying that the Gates family, “plow rocks for a living.” John responds, “That’s what they said about ‘our’ people back in (Sicily).”
Next of Kin is a 1989 American action-thriller film directed by John Irvin and starring Patrick Swayze and Liam Neeson, with Adam Baldwin, Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton and Ben Stiller in one of his earliest roles. The screenplay was based on a story of the same title, both written by Michael Jenning.
Next of Kin (1989)
Directed by: John Irvin
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Liam Neeson, Adam Baldwin, Helen Hunt, Andreas Katsulas, Bill Paxton, Ben Stiller, Michael J. Pollard, Ted Levine, Valentino Cimo
Screenplay by: Michael Jenning
Production Design by: Jack T. Collis
Cinematography by: Steven Poster
Film Editing by: Peter Honess
Costume Design by: Donfeld
Set Decoration by: Jim Duffy
Music by: Jack Nitzsche
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: October 20, 1989