THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS:
Do you like science fiction, dinosaurs, survival horror, Adam Driver, orphans, and dads with guilt complexes? Well, I’ve got a movie for you!
When I first saw the trailer for 65, I was stoked! The film was exactly what I thought it would be. The story begins with a basis of why a pilot named Mills takes on a mission where he will be away from his family for two years. His daughter is sick, and he must take on a two-year mission to triple his salary to pay for her treatment. He’s taking a gamble to pay for treatment. What if the treatment doesn’t work, and he forfeits those few precious years with his daughter? He is determined to try anything to ensure her survival. I thought it odd that even in his ‘advanced’ civilization, humans still battle sicknesses and use money to pay for treatments.
During his mission, his ship collides with an undiscovered unexpected asteroid field, and then he and his cryogenically frozen passengers crash to Earth… 65 million years ago. Dinosaurs are still alive and well during this time.
Here the survival story really begins. Mills finds one other survivor from the crash, a girl named Koa. They face a language barrier because their translator broke during the crash. They need to cooperate to survive the alien elements of Earth. I thought it was intriguing to imply humans came from a much more advanced civilization and that Earth isn’t ‘home.’
You will be disappointed if you’re looking for nonstop Jurassic Park action. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of action and many tense moments in the film. The action and suspense are broken up by the characters building trust and understanding between themselves while braving the elements. It has a steady cadence of story, action, story, action. There are a lot of scenes of Adam Driver running full tilt to or from danger, depending on the circumstances.
I have been a fan of Adam’s for the past few years and notice he seems to choose projects that let the viewer interpret certain aspects of the characters and story of their own accord, with the story having a slightly slower pace for moments of reflection. As an actor, he seems content with allowing the viewer to conjure their own artistic interpretation of the story and character, filling in the untold narrative with their own imagination rather than exposition.
Ariana Greenblatt did a phenomenal job as Koa. Ariana and Adam developed a realistic rapport as they journeyed together through hostile terrain. They communicated by drawings, hand signals, and whistles. Even amid dire circumstances, there were a few lighthearted moments between them.
65 does a good job of giving us all the basics of what we need to know about our characters to see them through their journey. The action was intense, and there were a number of great jump scares! Survival horror at its finest. The CG was okay. It wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t any different from what we’ve seen in other dinosaur franchises. Our main characters have quite an adventure through prehistoric landscapes and encounter the brutality of nature during that time period. Throughout the film, I genuinely wondered if both characters would make it out alive.
The finale was the crescendo of action and intensity. Apex predators circle their prey, oblivious to the oncoming destruction as Mills and Koa try their best to escape a doomed planet as the giant asteroid penetrates the atmosphere. I would recommend checking out this film because it’s an interesting ride with a unique twist tying in great elements of a grand prehistoric catastrophic event with survival horror and science fiction.
When the teaser for 65 popped up on my TikTok’s For you page, I was immediately intrigued. At that point, I didn’t know it would be a dinosaur adventure. What pulled me in instantly was Adam Driver and the title card “From the writers of A Quiet Place.” I was filled with anticipation and couldn’t shut up about it ever since then.
Well, this is far from the genius of A Quiet Place, unfortunately, which is disappointing the more I think about it. Ever since Jurassic Park/World, all I’ve been waiting for was a movie that’s true and raw Dinosaur horror survival. The funny thing is that the creators found that tone for the last 15 minutes, and it is honestly one of the most incredible action sequences out there. But my days, where was it for the rest of the movie?
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it, nor do I think it is a bad film, but they missed a huge opportunity with this one. There were so many great moments that couldn’t reach their full potential.
The first mistake they made was placing their crash landing on Earth right next to the arrival of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. The journey that they had to go on was already full of thrills, and I think simply putting the urgency into getting away from a planet that had so many creatures that could kill them would have been more than enough. Bringing in Doomsday to rush things felt unnecessary to me.
The second mistake they made was only leaving two people alive. I think they wanted to put in this big man protects little girl trope so badly that it actually hurt the film a little. Ariana Greenblatt and Adam Driver have great chemistry together, but the scenes where they are “bonding” are a bit laughable and not in a good way. They shifted so hard from the serious tone into this weirdly trying-to-be-funny one that I didn’t really understand it. Even the music became this uplifting, cheery type that was so alien from how it all started. When they used their quieter resting moments for bonding was worth so much more than this “let’s be funny” they were going for.
Also, two people mean that probably none of them will die, aka the threats of the surroundings, and the miraculous escapes become predictable and therefore lose their intensity. We all know they won’t kill a kid. Well, there are some exceptions (A Quiet Place – I’m looking at you again), but in this case, it was obvious from the start that they won’t do it. More survivors would have meant more chances to go hard on the more survival horror elements.
It is really infuriating because when they went all in the “we must survive” kind of action, it was so freaking good. Driver is a born badass, so it was easy to believe all his steps and decisions. Whenever he lifted up that weapon, I was so ready for what was to come! And the fact that Ariana’s character was so smart and didn’t need saving all the time was incredibly satisfying. In fact, she was the one who pulled the big man out of trouble multiple times. I liked the dynamic when they really went for it, but I think it was used way too little for a movie like this.
I was happy with the CGI and loved the design of the final big dino especially, it looked amazing, and all the space stuff was gorgeous to look at. However, by the end, I was more interested in the story they introduced at the beginning. Humans lived on a different planet way before humans showed up on Earth. What’s the story there? It made me wonder for sure.
Altogether, I did enjoy it and had fun with the entire thing, but I am super disappointed because it could have been so much more. I honestly don’t get how a duo that wrote two fantastic movies before (I know John Krasinski had a HUGE part in that) building on the exact same survival horror aspect like 65 could end up like this. It’s a very mild but enjoyable film, but it definitely didn’t live up to what it could have been, and it makes me sad. I will probably watch it again, but only on a rainy Sunday.