In a world full of endless sequels and reinvented franchises, one of the many reoccurring complaints from moviegoers is a lack of more independent, original and low budget films. To correct this misinformative thought pattern, a double take is all that’s needed to see beyond the overwhelming franchises and confirm that IP less films are being produced at a higher rate still. Original ideas are all around us, all it takes is a good look. One of those original ideas comes after another that writing team Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the duo who wrote A Quiet Place, following the same path, adding their voice to stand out amongst an over saturated crowd.
To be fair, the Goliath sized franchise Beck and Woods are facing as David has seen it’s fair share of missteps along the way, so the opportunity to tell a different story separate from anything else is promising to say the least. The real question then becomes, does the duo deliver on their promise? Open ended question aside, 65 is packed to the brim with potential from the ambitions writing / directing duo. No one can deny the massive success A Quiet Place had, putting a new spin on a post apocalyptic world. The same hope for 65 would be to mirror that success, using a formula to recapture lighting in a bottle.
What starts out strong with 65 however quickly loses steam. Not the steam from the acidic and unpredictable geysers but from a narrative standpoint. Once the film opens and confirms that the 65 stands for 65 million years ago, when the earth was still being formed and settled after the Big Bang and dinosaurs roamed the earth, on a different planet called Somaris, a pilot named Mills (Adam Driver) is getting ready to embark on a 2-year mission off planet somewhere to help his daughter Nevine (Chloe Coleman) and her illness.
What illness that may be and where is Mill’s mission, Beck and Woods don’t provide that information keeping the plot of 65 feeling unimaginative and devoid of depth.
During the journey, the unnamed ship comes across an unexpected asteroid field which causes Mills to crash land on the uncharted planet that would go on to be known as Earth. Thinking he’s alone, only one cryogenic pod survived the crash as Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), who doesn’t speak a word of English gets paired with Mills to reach their escape shuttle and make it back home before the dinosaurs extinction event takes place in 24 hours after arriving. What could be more enticing than the proverbial first people on earth coming face to face with some of the deadliest predators In dinosaurs to survive by any means? Not much but even with the addition of slick CGI dinosaurs, the creatures who once roamed the earth can’t save this dud from crashing and burning in a heap of forgettable mediocrity.
98% of 65, Beck and Woods rely on Driver and Greenblatt to carry the extra burden that the film lacks in most areas. And as expected Driver and Greenblatt do despite their characters speaking in different tongues. Because of this, the dialogue is kept to a minimum but what’s more confusing is the lack of subtitles used to convey what Koa is expressing. Bits and pieces are picked up here and there but for the most part, the barrier becomes frustrating to sit through as Mills repeats his words 2-3 times only for Koa to grab hold of a singular word.
The result sifts the focus to the journey – reaching the escape shuttle to get off the planet. Mills being from another planet has the advantage of futuristic technology at his disposal. The problem circles back to the disjointed screenplay, Mills and Kia have no idea where they’re going, how long it’s going to take and how they will work together to overcome this giant-sized setback in an unpredictable environment. Coming in at a modest 93 minutes, Beck and Woods waste very little of their precious time going from point A to point B. The pacing couldn’t be any tighter and it works in the films favor.
Much of 65 follows the journey when it can be seen. What little bit of sunshine gets taken for granted – during the nighttime the only light source comes from a flashlight that has seen better days but it’s more so shining a deep blue light against the backdrop of a cave that makes a tough watch even tougher to sit through and understand. For verisimilitude’s sake, Beck and Woods capture the isolating emptiness of a desolate planet with just the sun as the only light source. All that had to be done was lighten the deep blacks or contrast those colors for a better experience on the eye. ¾ of the time I didn’t know if Mills and Koa were headed in the right direction or if one of the many carnivorous dinosaurs took a bit of flesh off the heroes. It’s hard to see and even harder to follow the train of thought.
And then there’s the Sci-fi of it all. All of the potential is washed away, ending up a basic premise with nothing new substantial to add. During the 93-minute runtime we learn very little of this pseudo human race. More questions end up being asked than answered and very little satisfaction comes when a shred of new information is given. One thing is certain, the weapons are beyond advanced if Mills can take down a fully grown Tyrannosaurus Rex with less than 6 shots from his rifle.
65 becomes one missed opportunity after the next, with the performances becoming phoned in once the same repetitive Dino death happens just for the stranded characters to fall into another set of unfortunate circumstances. If you can ignore the repetitive nature of recycled dialogue and tiresome injury prone obstacles, 65 may be an enjoyable romp that begs its viewer check their expectations at the door. If not, as soon as it ends, 65 is forgotten, going in one ear and out of the other.
Screenplay By: Scott Beck & Bryan Woods
Directed By: Scott Beck & Bryan Woods
Music By: Chris Bacon
Cinematography: Salvatore Totino
Starring: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman, Nika King
Edited By: Jane Tones & Josh Schaeffer
Release Date: March 10, 2023
Running Time: 1 Hour 33 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%