REVIEW: 65 (2023)

Adam Driver and Ariana Greenblatt star in ’65’ — PHOTO: Patti Perret / Sony Pictures.

Directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods — Screenplay by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods.

The first time I saw the trailer for 65, I was immediately hooked. Here was a sci-fi film, with an excellent leading man, that appeared to dare to do something else with dinosaurs than the Jurassic Park sequels did. ‘Dinosaurs versus Adam Driver with sci-fi weapons’ was a concept that was always right up my alley. I was curious to find out what novel sci-fi twist or spin that writer-directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (the duo who wrote A Quiet Place) had hidden up their sleeves. However, 65 didn’t have all that much hidden in the final film that wasn’t already apparent from the trailer and this was a massive disappointment to me. 

Beck and Woods’ 65 is titled thusly because it takes place 65 million years ago when dinosaurs existed on our home planet and an asteroid impacted Earth thus creating the extinction event that rid them from the planet forevermore. At this point in time, we follow a pilot, Mills (played by Adam Driver), whose ship crash-lands on Earth. The impact of the crash killed all of the passengers of the ship except for one girl, Koa (played by Ariana Greenblatt), and Mills decides that what he has left to fight for is to get her to safety. But it won’t be easy, because Mills has no idea about the dinosaurs who stand between them and a way home (there’s barely any additional plot to speak of here). 

The thing about 65 is that it should work better than it does. Adam Driver is totally believable as this sci-fi action hero. The dinosaurs look relatively good. Backgrounds and locations are totally fine. Again, there isn’t much hidden up the film’s sleeves except for a couple of pretty cool sci-fi technology that helps to make the dinosaur action look unlike Jurassic Park, but this film works visually, casting-wise, and acting-wise. Adam Driver, one of the finest actors of his generation, has a solid emotional scene at one point, which proves that he really tried to make it work. 

Problems, however, appear in the story and the way the film has been pieced together. The film is quite short at 93 minutes, and it certainly feels like the film just flies by. Hastily paced, it feels like there is a definite lack of connective tissue and that certain character-building scenes have been omitted. The decision to add a language barrier between the film’s two main characters seems like an odd decision considering how much suspension of disbelief sci-fi like this allows for, and it also feels like an artificial way to add unnecessary drama between characters who were on the very same ship. Furthermore, this is the kind of film that overexplains things that needn’t be overexplained (with text on the screen at inopportune times) and underexplains things that needed more explanation (specifically, character background stories).

Look, 65 is exactly what it says it is in the trailers. This is a well-budgeted and relatively nice-looking sci-fi dinosaur B-movie concept with an excellent actor in the lead role. For some, that will absolutely be enough, as the posters and trailers never claimed to be anything more than that, but those of us who had hoped for a little bit more — considering this was a project that Adam Driver had signed onto — will probably be relatively disappointed by the simplicity of the film. It is clear as day that it was reworked quite a bit and perhaps even butchered in the editing room, and there are some really questionable choices made here and there, but it is watchable. If it had been paced better and not gotten in its own way, then it could’ve gotten a cult following down the line, but I don’t see it happening in the state that it’s in right now. Instead, it just feels like a missed opportunity.

5.5 out of 10

– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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