May 24, 2023
A look at the recent sci-fi flick "65"
I’m a fan of most movie genres and will pretty much watch anything—most anything, even when everyone else says, “Hey, that sucks.” I don’t care. I want to see for myself. That was the case with Adam Driver’s latest film, 65. It has mixed reviews from critics and audiences and has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 35% with an audience review score of, oddly enough, 65%. I happened to like it, and here’s why.
65 is a science fiction action thriller written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods--both of whom wrote for A Quiet Place and A Quiet Place II--starring Adam Driver (I shouldn’t have to do this, but I will: Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and young actor Ariana Greenblatt (Love and Monsters). Driver is a space pilot living on the planet Somaris with his wife and sick child. Needing money to treat her illness, he decides to undertake a two-year expedition transporting human colonists to a new world when disaster strikes and a mass of asteroids pummels his ship down to an unknown planet, which is revealed to be Earth—65 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period. You know what that means? Dinosaurs. Giant, flesh-eating dinosaurs.
Upon the crash, Driver, known as Mills, realizes his ship is damaged beyond repair, and he is the only survivor. He thinks about committing suicide but ultimately decides against it after he discovers one lone little survivor from the human colonist transport, a young girl named Koa. Because of their language barrier (and a broken translator), the two struggle to communicate. With Driver at the helm, their struggle is most endearing.
Mills later discovers that a functioning escape shuttle from his ship has landed on top of a mountain, so he is hell-bent on getting there. Koa, however, scared and lost without her family, does not want to leave. In an effort to spare her pain and heartache, Mills lies to her and indicates her family is on top of the mountain waiting for her; in reality, they died in the crash. As the two set out towards the mountain amidst the treacherous landscape, they discover they are not alone as they endure one harrowing situation after another to reach their destination. Will they make it? That’s the question guiding this story.
The planet is home to huge, dangerous, very aggressive dinosaurs, and when the dinosaurs become aware of Mills and Koa’s presence, the hunt is on. As Mills works to protect them from harm, he and Koa begin to form a sweet little bond that carries them through their journey.
Here's a quick rundown. Mills and Koa are attacked by a large quadrupedal theropod; later, a rockfall separates them and Mills is attacked by an Oviraptor while Koa is attacked by a raptor-like creature, which she traps in a fallen tree longs and uses bombs Mills gave her to kill the beast.
Mills kills the Oviraptor on his ass and escapes its cave, but then he falls into quicksand while frantically searching for Koa, who shows up at the last minute to save him. And lastly, as they continue their trek up the mountain, Mills notices a massive asteroid (whose debris crashed the ship they were on) heading right for Earth and realizes they have less than 12 hours before it hits and triggers a catastrophic extinction event.
I won’t tell you what happens next, because you need to watch it for yourselves, but I will tell you that their dinosaur-fighting days are not over, as the duo face two Tyrannosaurus rex AND the same quadrupedal theropod from earlier. Oh, and you’re gonna want to stay tuned after the credits roll, because there’s a little treat there.
While, yes, the story might have some plot holes and whatnot, overall, it really is a good movie to tune into on a rainy day if you have nothing to do. Just watch it for what it is and appreciate the art behind it. If you come out saying this movie is bad, it’s because you sat down to watch it with expectations and pre-conceived notions equivalent to a different, perhaps larger-scale sci-fi movie. On some level, 65 is devoid of all the action that accompanies multiple character arcs in a big budget flick, but that doesn’t matter. There’s enough going on here in this story to keep you entertained and drawn in.
The effects, largely dependent on old school cinematic techniques like camera and editing or sound and visual effects—even dramatic performance and questions of what’s really happening behind the dialogue—were fantastic, in my opinion. Beck and Woods do a solid job of bringing in fear of the unknown and of being hunted by using certain sound effects combined with the art of suggestion to drive moments of danger and curiosity. The terrain is breathtakingly terrifying to witness, as Earth is rife with clumps of tornadoes and acid-spewing geysers, as well as tons of chill-inducing prehistoric creatures.
While you might be expecting those big-budget effects like you saw in Jurassic Park, you must detach from those expectations to watch this movie. It relies heavily on what you don’t see to drive the suspense of what is happening and to heighten our fear of what could be, and that is where this film (and story) shines. It also navigates very well the relationship between Mills and Koa as people, as friends, as provider and dependent, as adult and child, and as two human beings who experienced something deeply traumatic together and forged a bond from survival.
So, overall, do I recommend 65 as a weekend watch? You’re damn right I do! It’s curious, it’s exciting, it has its heartwarming moments, and we get a decent resolution. The acting is also pretty good, and the end left me wanting to know more about Mills and Koa and what happens next. You will not feel like you’ve just wasted 93 minutes of your time, I promise … unless you’re a film snob, then you might feel differently. But don’t be a snob! Art is meant to be experienced.
65 is currently available on Video on Demand, Prime Video, and Roku and will eventually be streaming on Netflix, but as of yet, there is no stream date available. It’s worth the rental fee, though.
Enjoy the third age of being stranded in the Mesozoic Era!
Keeley Brooks is a big ole movies, television, and streaming nerd with an uncontrollable urge to write about everything she watches. Even if it sucks. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.