65 review: a simple, bare-bones sci-fi thriller

“65 is a simple but effective sci-fi thriller that thankfully doesn’t overstay its welcome.”


  • Adam Driver’s committed lead performance

  • Lean running time of 93 minutes

  • Several intense, clever action sequences


  • A messy, raw visual style

  • An all too familiar story

The new movie 65 is a refreshingly unambitious sci-fi blockbuster.

Written and directed A quiet place Written by Scott Beck and Brian Woods, the film is a simple, tight thriller that’s only interested in forcing its star, Adam Driver, to repeatedly do battle with a bunch of dinosaurs and other dangerous prehistoric creatures. The film doesn’t use more visual effects than necessary, and consistently uses its real environments and locations – most of which turn out to be far more dangerous than they first appear. In case the limited running time of 93 minutes didn’t already make it clear: 65 has no franchise ambitions.

The film’s world-building is concise and effective, and Beck and Woods’ script never seems to obsess over the kind of fantastical detail or sci-fi gobbledygook that bogs down so many other modern blockbusters. Its safety and limited range are undoubtedly hindrances 65 from rising to any really great heights. However, there is also something exciting about the way 65 it harkens back to the days when Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters could still be self-contained adventures that didn’t demand more than 90 minutes of their viewers’ undivided attention.

Adam Driver holds a futuristic scanner at 65.
Patti Perrett/Sony Pictures Entertainment

As stated in its title, 65 is set about 65 million years ago and centers on Mills (Driver), a work-for-hire space pilot from a distant, technologically advanced planet. The film’s simple opening scene establishes Mills’ decision to undertake a two-year transportation mission in order to pay for the expensive medical treatments his sick daughter Nevin (Chloe Coleman) needed. In his next scene, 65 overtakes Mills’ fateful mission as he is overturned by an asteroid field that destroys Mills’ ship and sends him and his passengers crashing to a nearby, uncharted terrestrial planet.

In the aftermath of the crash, Mills discovers that all but one of his cryogenically-sleeping passengers have been killed by the destruction of his ship. Mills finds and awakens the only other survivor of the crash, a young foreign girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), who unfortunately does not speak the same language as Driver’s skilled pilot. Determined to make sure Koa makes it home safely, Mills takes her on a multi-day journey on his ship’s escape craft, which has landed more than twelve kilometers away from where he and Koa ended up.

Along the way, Beck and Woods reveal that Mills has not landed on any terrestrial planet, but on Earth itself. Mills is thus forced throughout his and Koa’s journey to use his scientifically advanced weaponry to battle a wide range of deadly prehistoric creatures. It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has seen anything remotely similar 65Mills and Koa’s journey also results in the two characters gradually forming a bond of intense trust, albeit an unconventional one.

Mills and Coa stand together in a cave in 65.
Patti Perrett/Sony Pictures Entertainment

Despite what its dramatic opening title reveals, you’d like to believe, 65 he is not as original as he thinks. The casting of Driver as Mills makes the film’s twist on a typical uncharted planet easy to accept, and 65 it has no other truly subversive tricks up its sleeves. The film spends most of its running time following Mills and Koa as they encounter a series of dangerous creatures and obstacles during their journey together. The film’s simple obstacle-driven structure results in it feeling somewhat repetitive in its second and third acts, which only makes the subtle 65His story feels a lot more obvious at times.

There is, however, something uncomplicatedly exciting about watching 65Its heroes are faced with increasingly difficult challenges and still overcome them with their own brute strength and intellect. There are moments everywhere 65 in which Beck and Woods display the same knack for action storytelling that they had A quiet place. This is especially true of a sequence in which Driver’s Mills is forced to fix his dislocated shoulder before a group of dangerous predator-like dinosaurs have a chance to tear him and Koa apart.

Woods and Beck’s economic approach 65His story also allows the pair to make the most of Mills’ various futuristic weapons. The duo often avoid relying on exposition by simply letting viewers watch Mills use his gadgets, as he does during a sequence where he places a series of glowing markers around his and Koa’s campsite. The character’s decision to place the markers where he does makes their purpose clear long before their yellow, pulsing lights turn red and Mills starts looking around fearfully for any approaching creatures.

Adam Driver stands next to a dinosaur skeleton in 65.
Patti Perrett/Sony Pictures Entertainment

Beck and Woods’ visual style isn’t as sophisticated as their storytelling. There are many moments throughout 65 when the uneven combination of panning shots and dim twin lighting make it difficult to maintain a clear sense of the film’s physical spaces. An underground showdown between Mills and an unidentified dinosaur is particularly confusing, both because of the overwhelming darkness throughout and the lack of a wide shot. Beck and Woods bring a lot more control to some of them 65other action sequences, but the duo’s visual style looks disappointingly rough and messy in some sections of the film.

Fortunately for that, 65 is luckier than most Hollywood blockbusters because it’s led by Driver, a performer willing to bring the same level of commitment to films like 65 Driver’s performance as Mills is so off-putting and to the point that it ensures the character’s rare moments of emotional vulnerability land with real force. In some ways, the relaxed nature of the driver’s performance is ultimately a reflection of him 65 itself, a film that understands how even the most straightforward version of a story can still be compelling and entertaining if told with enough passion and focus.

65 now playing in theaters.

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