In 65, it’s Adam Driver versus dinosaurs and personal demons, as he plays a pilot stranded in prehistoric times – here’s our review…
Co-writers of A Quiet Place, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, know exactly what the audience wants when it comes to 65, and the writer/directors show that they have no qualms with giving it to us without much preamble.
We first meet Adam Driver’s Mills on a beach with his partner and sick daughter (Chloe Coleman). He’s about to go away on a two-year work trip to fund the treatment that could cure her. But what could this mysterious work possibly be? Cut to a space ship that Mills is piloting, transporting cryogenically frozen passengers to an unknown destination.
In quite a refreshing way, 65 is completely unbothered by context. There’s no explanation of what his expedition is for, how far in the future the film’s set, or how the characters end up travelling through time – as Mills finds out when they crash land on a planet that turns out to be Earth 65 million years ago. When so many other sci-fi franchises are concerned with ‘world-building’ it’s actually quite brilliant to watch a film that cuts straight to the nitty gritty without fuss.
During the course of the crash, almost all the passengers are killed. Only Mills and the young Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) survive, but they don’t speak the same language and he has no means of translating. The two of them muddle through, with Mills discovering that part of the ship – the part that crucially holds the escape pods – is still operational.
There is, of course, a problem. The pods are 15km (that’s 9.3 miles. I had to Google it after watching – kilometres mean nothing to me) away, and the terrain between them and the pods is a hostile wasteland filled with dinosaurs that could rip them to shreds in seconds.
Much of the movie, then, is comprised of the familiar goal of rushing to a final destination. There’s nothing special about that narrative arc, but 65 makes the journey incredibly enjoyable. It really has a bit of everything. Most people will be watching for the ‘Adam Driver versus dinosaur’ parts, and they are a lot of fun. The movie has the good sense to start out with the smaller predators and work its way up, and as it does so Mills has to progress from using his futuristic weapons to finding more creative ways of taking out his pursuers.
Most of 65 involves Mills and Greenblatt trekking through the harsh wilderness – with an early scene demonstrating exactly how harsh. It’s a movie that feels very tactile, as Driver is very rarely not covered in mud and various other gunk. It makes sure to provide some variety to its action, too, with some pretty claustrophobic cave scenes that are also nice and suspenseful.
What is surprising, though, are the moments of levity and genuine heart. Mills is clearly troubled by the daughter he left behind and in many ways Koa is a presence causing both comfort and concern for him. Beck and Woods have clearly seen the popularity of The Mandalorian and The Last Of Us and noted that ‘reluctant adoptive dad’ is a formula that’s a guaranteed win. They were correct.
Greenblatt also gives an impressive performance. Koa speaks very few words, and so the young actress relishes every line and is incredibly expressive throughout. Driver, too, is excellent, providing nuance and emotional depth to what could have been a flat, stoic character.
The lack of context that the movie embraces at its start begins to erode over the course of its brisk running time. We learn more about Mills’ daughter during flashbacks and recorded videos, and while it provides an emotional anchor for his character it does often feel as though the film’s momentum stalls whenever she’s on-screen.
Those moments are brief, though, and are definitely outweighed by the excitement of the action scenes. It’s fairly generic, but if you’re looking for a tense, fun action movie, 65 has everything you need. Survival; suspense; dinosaurs; Adam Driver. What more could you ask for?
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