The new sci-fi mashup 65 plays deliciously in any single frame or five seconds of trailer footage. Adam Driver? Tick. Spaceships? Tick. Lasers? Tick. Dinosaurs? Tick. But there’s one part of their calculus the filmmakers may have gotten wrong. We haven’t tired of Driver, spaceships or lasers, but many of us could probably go the rest of our lives without seeing another dinosaur movie.


That’s a problem when the blending of a space movie and a dino movie is supposed to be the movie’s big selling point. You think you’re totally in, and then when you watch 65, you think: Do I really care about another T-Rex opening a giant mouth of incisors next to a group of cowering humans, proceeding to unleash the trademark T-Rex Scream, which is kind of like an auto-tuned lion kick-starting a motorcycle?

Any underwhelming impression the movie makes is no fault of Driver, who does his professional best as Mills, a pilot on a two-year mission to transport a group of hyper-sleeping passengers between planets. The job will take him away from his wife (Nika King) and daughter (Chloe Coleman), though it’s the latter whose terminal illness is prompting the job. If he can earn the money to pay for her treatment, she might be fine. They live on the planet Somaris, though they are apparently not humans. (Could have fooled us.)

An uncharted asteroid field sends the ship off course and crash-landing toward an uncharted planet, where, let’s just say, things don’t work out very well for most of those on board. The exceptions are the pilot himself, and a young girl, Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), who doesn’t speak the same language, and whose own sleep chamber survived the crash. They might be able to get off the planet if they can reach an escape pod disgorged from the disintegrating ship on top of a mountain 15 K away. However, they’ll have to dodge the planet’s upright and ferocious reptiles if they want any chance of achieving that goal.

65 might have held its biggest secret longer, if it wanted to create a blow-your-mind, Planet of the Apes moment at the end. But only just after the title is splashed on the screen – which, granted, takes a good 15 minutes to happen – do we learn that the “65” refers to a number of millions of years ago, and that the “uncharted planet” is Earth.


For half a second, one or two noodles out there might be fried, or at least mildly toasty. You’re confronted with the idea that in a universe 13.7 billion years old, of course other advanced societies have reached the pinnacle of their possible achievement long before Earth even existed. That doesn’t really hold you for too long, though, because soon the shipboard computer, still half-functioning, starts to give proximity warnings for an object heading toward Earth – and if the number “65 million years” means anything to you, you probably know what that object is.

There was an opportunity for 65 to be an outrageous bit of pulpy fun, but the movie’s biggest problem is that it’s too straightforward, and in the end, a little boring. Directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods are the writers of the original A Quiet Place, and it’s clear their comfort zone involves small casts fighting overwhelming odds against lethal monsters. That movie had two things going for it that are better than anything this film can offer, that being a monster design that felt fresh, and a gimmick that nobody in the movie could make a sound.


This movie, on the other hand, has the disadvantage of having had 37 other big budget Hollywood dinosaur movies come between Jurassic Park and it, and these dinos have no rules that govern their threat level. They show up and disappear as the narrative finds convenient, and if a particular set piece doesn’t rely on dinosaurs, then they just don’t show up at all.

In fact, anything that’s good about 65 involves the relationship that forms between Mills and Koa as they evade the negligible threat of these dinosaurs. (Of course, the bigger threat is coming from the sky, so it’s more a race against the clock than a race against a velociraptor). It’s obvious he’s a surrogate father and she’s a surrogate daughter, and they quite pointedly take the place of characters who are absent. But a genuine trust and affection develops between them that the actors really sell. Greenblatt certainly is promising, but Driver continues to remind us that he’s unlike any other movie star out there, a magnetic screen presence simply because he’s not comparable to anyone else. He could have phoned this in but that’s not his style.


Without spoiling what happens in the film’s final scene, we can say that it does clearly make a reach for the absurd that hasn’t made an appearance thus far in the film. This absurd moment makes you remember the absurdity baked into the concept. The fact that it takes until 80 minutes in (yes, it’s a blissfully brief 93 minutes) points up 65’s primary drawback, which is that it doesn’t trust or realise it has the makings of something potentially unique on its hands. Instead, it gives us another dinosaur screaming like an auto-tuned lion and Mills telling Koa to “Run!” Would that we could escape into something fundamentally less familiar.


65 is currently playing in cinemas.

5 / 10