Updated: Apr 8
The Adam Driver vs. dinosaurs vehicle is dully banal
The last two species that have ruled our planet have been humans and dinosaurs; it is only natural that the imagination of artists ponder which of the two would triumph over the other. Because of the expensive limits of visual effects, this has only been achieved in cinema with the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World films. However, as the technology has become cheaper, we are beginning to get more stories featuring the ancient reptiles. The latest is the Adam Driver vehicle 65 (2023).
65, as its title alludes, takes place 65 million years ago when an alien civilization spaceship crashes on Earth. The only survivors are the pilot, Miller (Driver), and a young girl, Koa (Ariana Greenblatt). Together they must traverse the Cretaceous wild in search of a functioning escape pod.
65 is written and directed by the duo Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who have helmed other features in the past, but broke through recently as the screenwriters in the A Quiet Place films. In 65 they are granted a much bigger budget and some star power. However, the duo sadly falls into a predictable blockbuster mold, echoing worn out beats and tropes that will have viewers rolling their eyes rather than gripping their armrests.
The main selling point for 65 is Adam Driver fighting dinosaurs, and this seems to have been the essential pitch from Beck and Woods. However, the filmmaking duo become entrenched in uninteresting backstory and world-building that serves as a foil to viewers as they become infuriated by glaring plot-holes instead of delivering a satisfying action and survivalist film. The script feels awfully like a first draft, with the explanations as to why characters are delayed or placed in certain situations being laughably lazy. The dynamic between Driver and Koa is dully stale, with Koa acting as the clichéd surrogate daughter to Driver who has a sick child back home. One of the most frustrating aspects of t
he central relationship is the fact that both characters speak a different language. Beck and Woods bridge this unnecessary language barrier by using the classic American tourist fantasy of repeating English phrases until the listener magically learns their definitions, context, and conjugations. It serves yet another example of the roughshod script work and lazy plotting.
65 might have been salvaged, had it delivered on its promised dinosaur action, yet it seems Beck and Woods had a budget that didn’t quite reach their ambitions. As such, most of the film is just Miller and Koa walking and hiking, with the occasional flash of some reptiles. Tension can be built without showing a central monster or adversary, just look at Jaws (1975) or other effective horror films, but Beck and Woods seem to lose themselves in a tepid middle ground of blockbuster pacing with middle-budget finances.
The result is that 65 fails to deliver on its central promise, serving up instead unwarranted clichéd characters, plot, and some of the most predictable and recycled dialogue in recent films. The always-committed Driver brings some intensity to 65, but it’s not nearly enough to pull this film out of their dull doldrums it inevitably settles into.