'65' review: Prehistoric thriller loses track of time
Courtesy of Sony
About midway through Scott Beck’s and Bryan Wood’s “65,” a movie that unveils its title card approximately 20 minutes in and inadvertently sets up the plot: “65 million years ago. A man crashed on earth,” it was obvious the ingenious premise wasn’t going to pay dividends, even with Oscar nominee Adam Driver in the cockpit. Why else would the filmmakers think they needed to explain the film before the movie actually gets rolling? I wonder if test screening audiences were confused. Whatever the case, “65” takes on paper what sounded like a banger idea and never gains enough momentum to see it come to fruition.
Driver, looking lost and confused, plays Mills, a pilot tasked with carrying a shipload of folks in cryostasis to an undefined planet, but along the way his vessel is hit by an undetected meteor shower and he ends up on earth before dinosaurs and other parasitic organisms went extinct. That’s cool, but Beck and Wood’s never explain how time works in this film: It was hard from a viewer standpoint to understand if Mills traveled back in time, or if he exists in a past that’s also the future? A prologue doesn’t give much insight other than an attempt at humanzing Mills with a sick daughter who also exists, it seems, in some alternate timeline.
It’s convoluted and, frankly, not very fun. All anyone who shows up for “65” wants are dino-sized brawls and Driver trying to navigate his way around them. Instead, it’s a long and even slower trek through an apocalyptic wasteland with minimal detours or dino chaos. Mills is able to save one survivor of the crash, a young girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) who doesn’t speak English, which forces the two to communicate via several creative methods. The language barrier proves an odd hurdle the film never seems to get over. Not only do we never get any sense of connection between these two, despite the obvious parallels she’s a stand-in for his daughter (played by Chloe Coleman), but their language barrier holds them back from forming a deeper bond. When the time inevitably came for Driver to be the hero at a tense moment, it landed with a thud.
As did many other sequences that felt pigeonholed into the movie to meet its already skimpy 90-minute runtime. Honestly, “65” didn’t need to have this many variables, it could’ve been a simplistic survivalist action-adventure amid a prehistoric backdrop. And it’s all the more shocking when you remember Beck and Woods were the braintrust responsible for “A Quiet Place,” a series known for producing serious thrills. Nothing in “65” dials into the pulse of those films and though it saves a decent showdown for the climax, by that point, you’re already checked out, hoping the movie will gravitate towards its insane premise teased in the marketing. 65 million years from now, people will look back and wonder how a 90-minute movie with Adam Driver and dinosaurs never achieved lift-off.
65 is now playing in theaters.