A long time ago in a galaxy NOT so far away, Mills (Adam Driver) and his wife (Nika King) watch their daughter Nevine (Chloe Coleman) play on the beach. Nevine’s rapidly failing health is apparent with the treatment being highly expensive. For the sake of his daughter’s well-being, Mills embarks on a 2-year long contract piloting an interplanetary colony ship.
A catastrophic mid-flight collision with an uncharted asteroid field causes Mills’ ship to crash land on a nearby planet. Breaking in two, it appears that all other passengers of the ship are dead and Mills is alone. Worse still, unknown to Mills, he has landed on Earth 65 million years ago and deadly prehistoric creatures see him as a walking snack.
Hopelessness sets in until Mills realises one other colonist has survived, a young girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt). Mills now has a mission, to escort Koa safely over miles of dinosaur hunting grounds to an escape pod and their only hope for survival.
Written and directed by A Quiet Place writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, 65 is the type of high concept film they’re known for. Filmed in national forests during Covid lockdowns, it’s an interesting if a little quirky premise. With minimal cast members this works in the films favour as the feelings of isolation sets in quick.
Adam Driver is an actor at an interesting point in his career. Although not having traditional movie star looks, his role in several Star Wars films threw him into the spotlight as a leading man. With many successful dramatic roles under his belt, this is the first film to take advantage of his Marine Corps training. As an action movie lead, he fits the role well with both the charisma and screen presence to pull it off.
Driver‘s sole co-star Greenblatt for 95% of the film has quite the role to fill herself. A point is made in the film that Koa speaks a different language from Mills and his translator was unfortunately damaged in the crash. Much of their communication is through mimicry or drawings. Greenblatt does a commendable job bringing her character to life with what little she has to work with. Much like Driver, she is let down by a lack of substantial development on a script level.
This is where 65’s potential greatness falters as the film’s storyline and writing are unremarkable. The pacing of its opening 15 or so minutes reaches breakneck speed in a rush to get our two stars into the thick of it. Mills goes from loving father to suicidal castaway to protector guardian all before the film’s title is even displayed.
Mills’ rushed backstory also lessens the impact of seeing him bond with Koa. Establishing him as a paternal figure early on takes away any possible arc he could go through as her guardian. There is more to his story but by the time this is revealed, the damage is already done.
As interesting as I think the minimal cast angle could be, this too brings its own issues. With less characters, there is less dynamic to the story as any potential drama, twists or turns are abandoned in the process. There is only really one semi plot twist and by the time this happens, I had already pieced it together myself half an hour ago. It really is just two people going from Point A to Point B and shooting many dinosaurs along the way.
At least in this way, the film truly delivers on its gloriously cheesy premise featuring countless scares and near misses with dinosaurs realised by decent to impressive visual effects. I found the unique look of many of the creatures quite interesting as the film doesn’t rely on designs popularised by Jurassic Park. Many of these dinosaurs are as alien to us as they are to Mills and Koa, and I loved that.
Although marred somewhat by its lacklustre script, 65 remains an entertaining film in its own right. Something like a B movie albeit with a massive budget, and an A-list star with Adam Driver. It doesn’t feature much more than laser guns and dinosaurs but if that’s what you’re after, you won’t be disappointed. I really do believe that 65 could be a potential favourite movie for many children or the young at heart.