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Movie Review: '65' is By the Numbers Sci-Fi Action

A joyless and deeply unimpressed Adam Driver fights dinosaurs in plodding action-sci-fi flick, 65

By Sean PatrickPublished 7 days ago 4 min read

65 (2023)

Directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods

Written by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods

Starring Adam Driver, Arian Greenblatt, Nika King, Chloe Coleman

Release Date March 10th, 2023

Published March 12th, 2023

65 does little to justify its own existence. This sci-fi action movie starring Adam Driver is an incredibly basic and repetitive movie that happens to include space travel and people from a planet other than Earth. The core story is about a man trying to protect a small girl from a perilous and uncaring world, a story reflected in his personal life where he has a daughter who is sick and dying from an unspecified disease. Saving this small girl in the context of a mission on a foreign planet is intended as commentary on protecting the man's daughter from an illness that may kill her.

That sounds like it has potential and perhaps it does but nothing really comes from that potential. Adam Driver plays Captain Mills. Mills has been offered three times his salary to take a group of people in cryo-pods from one side of the universe to another. It's a trip that will take two years to complete. This means spending two years away from his wife, (Nika King), and their sick daughter (Chloe Coleman). Why do this? Because the family needs the money to give their daughter a chance to survive.

The plot of 65 kicks in when an unexpected meteor shower shatters the calm of an otherwise mundane space trip. This field of meteors seemingly came out of nowhere. Mills was asleep when it happened, demonstrating just how unexpected this was. The ship crashes on a nearby, seemingly uninhabited planet. Uninhabited by intelligent life forms anyway. Instead, the planet is populated by giant monsters that we recognize as dinosaurs, though Mills doesn't seem to know what they are.

Mills must then find an escape pod which is about 12 kilometers from where his part of the ship crashed. His journey is complicated when he learns that one of his cryo-pod passengers is still alive. Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), is foreign to Mills. She doesn't speak the same language and this communication barrier will provide further complication as they attempt to navigate the 12 kilometers of lush jungle, low and dangerous open space, and a mountain range.

Meanwhile, there is a ticking clock. Mills can see a very large meteor headed toward this alien planet, one that will eradicate all living things. Mills and Koa must get off of this planet before this meteor hits or else they will die with these giant monster creatures. From here, the movie becomes a survival thriller with a series of competent but not particularly memorable action scenes. There is nothing innovative or unique about these action sequences. Adam Driver proves to be skilled and brave and the little girl, Koa, is resourceful. And that's about it.

I truly believe that writer-directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods are talented filmmakers. Their most recent directorial effort, the horror movie, Haunt, was a clever and scary flick that took strong advantage of a haunted house setting. They have a good sense of pace and suspense but 65 feels like too much of an unfinished concept. That's indicated by the setting of the film. 65 is set on Earth, 65 million years in the past. Nothing wrong with that as an idea except that the movie never demonstrates why we need this setting?

I get that dinosaurs provide an opportunity to make CGI Dinosaurs and build suspenseful action scenes that evoke the Jurassic Park franchise, but setting the movie 65 million years in the past on Earth still never makes much sense. The fact that this is Earth in the time of dinosaurs provides a setting but is otherwise unrelated to the action of the movie. These could be any monster on any planet threatened by a meteor shower and the movie would be entirely unchanged.

The trouble is compounded by a trailer that makes this fact appear necessary. The trailer for 65 provided an intriguing question about how what seemed to be a human being from Earth somehow landed 65 million years in the past. Having that intriguing question answered immediately and be so very benign in terms of the movie is a let down to say the least. The movie seemed promise time travel and the twist is that time travel has nothing to do with this story.

Another problem comes from the deeply benign performance of star Adam Driver. Rather than play the role like an action hero or as a movie star, Driver seems to have embraced a far more serious, actorly approach to the role. This means drudging through the movie with a deep self-seriousness and having almost no awe for his surroundings. Driver's Captain Mills seems to adapt to the idea of Dinosaurs as if this were just something he's always had to fight. Driver plays this role as if carrying out a series of obligations rather than as a terrifying, life threatening, adventure that he will never forget. It's a bizarre choice and it sinks the movie.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and nearly 2000 movie reviews at Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the Everyone's a Critic Movie Review Podcast. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing on Vocal. If you would like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one-time tip. Thanks!


About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for Everyone's a Critic Movie Review Podcast. I am a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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