65 (2023)

It’s such a shame that audiences just didn’t take to “65” because I had a blast from the minute one. Scott Beck and Bryan Woods’ science fiction survival film is a mix of “Enemy Mine” and “Aliens” to where two people with vastly different circumstances have to rely on one another. Adam Driver is the driving force that really propels “65” in to admirable excitement and some genuinely interesting action set pieces. While I wouldn’t have minded more dinosaurs, “65” gets its point across by embracing its inherently pulpy science fiction roots through and through.

After a catastrophic crash on an unknown planet, pilot Mills quickly discovers he’s actually stranded on Earth… 65 million years ago. Now, with only one chance at rescue, Mills and the only other survivor, Koa, must make their way across an unknown terrain riddled with dangerous prehistoric creatures in an epic fight to survive.

“65” watches so much like an adaptation of a classic pulp dime novel, and it punctuates the aesthetic with the slicker set designs that avoid turning the prehistoric era of Plane Earth in to a dour and grim war zone. It almost feels like something Roland Emmerich might have trotted out in 1996 prior to “ID4”; and I mean that as a compliment.  If anything what hinders the film (and almost ruins it) is that the dynamic between Driver’s Mills and Ariana Greenblatt’s heroine Koa is so derivative that it’s distracting. It’s an almost beat for beat copy of the relationship between Ripley and Newt from “Aliens” to where the young charge has her own way of communicating.

Mills is even a parent who is mourning the loss of his daughter who he doesn’t really get to experience her last moments alive with. Nonetheless “65” is saved primarily by its atmosphere and sense of excitement. There are so many fun twists and turns that abound all of which are held afloat thanks to Adam Driver. Although we’re given only a glimpse of his life on his home planet, “65” manages to unpack a lot of interesting information, as well as some basic exposition that gives Mills a real emotional stake. When stranded on Earth he has to do what ever it takes to get back to his home planet, and he’s driven primarily by his guilt, and inherent self loathing at missing the final moments of his daughter’s life.

“65” has a really undeniable novel energy to it with some slick action, some fun villains, and a great bit of chemistry between primary stars Greenblatt and Driver. I wanted to know a lot more about Koa and Mills when their adventure ended and while we’ll never really get a follow up with them, the movie achieves its intention of creating characters you want to see so much more of.