Adam Driver, battling dinosaurs with a laser rifle, in a survival thriller from the writers of A Quiet Place. Surely, there’s no way this can go wrong, right? But 65 is an utter waste of its potential and combination of sci-fi and horror influences, with a repetitive, frequently dull story that will have you counting down the minutes until it goes extinct.
The story is straight-forward as it should be, with Driver taking on the role of Mills, a family man with a sick daughter, Nevine (Chloe Coleman), in need of expensive treatment. Things begin with a serene beachside setting, as Mills and Nevine share a bittersweet father/daugher moment before he sets out on a two-year assignment. While the time away will be tough, Mills needs it in order to pay for Nevine’s medical needs. Mills’ gig piloting colonists on a long deep-space journey go awry when the ship is battered by a meteor field, crash-landing on a nearby planet.
That planet turns out to be earth about 65 million years ago. Only Mills and a young girl, Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) survive the crash, and they’ll have to find the missing escape pod to affect an escape. They’ll have to overcome unpredictable, deadly terrain where prehistoric dinosaurs roam in order to survive. Not only that, but the environment itself is a threat, whether it’s quicksand, tar pits, or worse.
But the bigges hurdle to their survival could be communication, or lack thereof. Much of the film finds Mills trying to impart some life-saving information to Koa, only for her to either not understand it or blankly repeat it back to him. Then Mills ends up rescuing her from one danger or the next. During the quiet moments, of which there are far too many, the language barrier is also where the attempts at humor and humanization come in. They don’t go very far in making Mills that interesting of a character, however. It’s when Driver captures the deep well of loneliness within Mills that the character becomes someone we want to root for. Mills, seeing a lot of his daughter in Koa, fights with every last bit of his strength to protect her and to get her home.
Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the writers behind A Quiet Place, are the big names behind 65, but don’t expect to get the same visceral sense of fear that film instilled in all of us. It’s not for lack of trying. There are aspects that are very similar. 65 is another movie in which the characters dare not make a sound for fear of attracting some giant bug or hungry dinosaur, but as directors Beck and Woods can’t recreate the same trepidatious atmosphere. Sam Raimi is aboard as a producer, and you feel some of his influence in some of the more grotesque elements, in particular a nasty parasite that feeds on you while you’re sleeping. It’s pretty gross in the most squirm-worthy kind of way. 65 could’ve used more fun stuff like that, but the screenplay is more serious than a film like this has any need to be.
As mediocre as the majority of 65 is, the final act almost makes it all worth it. In true “saving the best for last” fashion, the film explodes in an insane rush of human vs. monster action, making the best use of some truly great special effects, as well as Driver’s physicality. He’s got the goods as an action star, we already knew that, but he deserves a better film than this. It takes too long for 65 to become the over-the-top spectacle it should’ve been from the beginning. And when it finally realizes its full potential, all it does is remind you of what could’ve been.
65 is in theaters now.