Adam Driver Can’t Save You From This Disaster

Mar 10, 2023

There is something remarkable about how completely 65 wastes all it had going for it. Taking Adam Driver, one of the best actors working today, and throwing him onto a prehistoric Earth where he has to fight dinosaurs seems like it could be a solid little action flick. Whoever it was that edited the film’s trailer together should be given a raise, as it made it seem like the final product might actually be a thrilling science fiction ride that could possibly even bring some notes of horror. Instead, what we got is a poorly constructed work doomed by its derivative and dull narrative core.

Though it is aggressively simple, 65 manages to become as lost as its characters as they wander through fields, woods, and caves without any momentum behind them. There are occasional glimpses of the fun that could have been had and Driver is never phoning it in, even as he has basically nothing to work with. The trouble is that it can’t overcome what proves to be an unimaginative experience that is further hampered by poor direction, writing, effects, and everything a film needs to hold together.
This all begins with on-screen text informing us of the necessary information to understand that our humanoid protagonist Mills (Driver) is actually part of an entirely different species than our own. Living on a planet that is far from Earth, he is about to take on a job that will whisk him away from his family for two years. As he prepares to say goodbye to his wife and daughter, who is in poor health of some kind, we learn he is doing this so that they can afford proper treatment. The fact that this species with the capacity to travel through space is still one where healthcare is not accessible to all is a grim prospect, but there is no interest in exploring this as it is all about getting the story in motion. Even then, it feels like it is stalling.

Image via Sony

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While 65 was never going to be a particularly heady work of science fiction, both the narrative underpinnings and their execution are so empty that everything increasingly rings hollow even as it incessantly hammers home the same superficial elements. The inciting incident is that the ship that Mills is piloting flies straight into an asteroid field. This happens while he is asleep, and they subsequently crash down to Earth, their ship breaking into two parts. The only other surviving passenger of the many in cryosleep is the young Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), who Mills must then protect as they travel to the other part of the ship they hope to use to escape.

A narrative built around traveling from point A to point B could work to keep the emphasis on the action. After all, the selling point of the experience is getting to see Driver take on various dinos. Much like the recent Jurassic World sequel, that is not something that 65 sufficiently capitalizes on. Further, the déjà vu that is felt when it too becomes oddly fixated on bugs does it absolutely no favors. What should have been a stripped-down story is made into an overwrought and ambling film where the staging of the action ensures that it only rarely carries any actual weight.

From the first moment Mills encounters one of his few dinosaur foes as he goes out to get his bearings, the effects are painfully unconvincing no matter how much Driver dutifully rolls around. This becomes a persistent problem that the film will occasionally get around by using darkness as a cover, but that can only go so far. They are often bigger than the dinosaurs in something like Jurassic Park, but the way it integrates them into the story just falls flat. Those effects have aged better because they aren’t just built around throwing a lot at the screen, but about being more precise in how they are used. The longer that 65 drags on, the more it reveals it lacks anything approaching a creative vision.

Take when Mills and Koa are attacked under a tree, the first truly dangerous encounter the two have. Rather than feel tense, they just seem disconnected from the supposedly approaching creatures. We know from the cutting back and forth that they are getting closer, though we are never given a shot to establish the distance that is being closed. It leans on the committed performance of Driver to convey the character’s panic, but we never feel it in the way the scene is constructed. Not once do you ever think that either of them are in any real danger, no matter how much the film tries to insist that they are. Whenever they are just on the verge of being in actual trouble, they get saved at the last possible second. It robs the film of any sense of stakes, making it hard to actually care about any of the subsequent escalations it throws out. Making matters worse is that the back-and-forth the characters have is all painfully one-note. Much of this stems from how Koa speaks a language that Mills does not understand, essentially reducing her to being a surrogate daughter with no depth that she gets on her own. Greenblatt gives it her all, but she is fighting an uphill battle from start to finish.

All of this could be forgiven if the film were actually fun in how it played around with its premise. It was never going to be a masterpiece by any means, but it is bizarre just how boring it all feels. The main event of it all, Driver fighting a T-rex, is something the film teases for all its worth before it unfolds in the conclusion. This proves to be disappointing as, after all this wait, the sequence just doesn’t feel worth it and passes rather quickly. Once more, the persistent problem is how disconnected the two adversaries are and how poorly staged the entire thing remains. When you then look back on the entire experience, it is fascinating how fleeting it is and how little of an impact it all leaves. Though there are movies that are worse than 65, it is part of a select few that manage to utterly and completely squander their own potential.

Rating: D

65 is in theaters now.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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