Review: 65

Director: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods

Stars: Ariana Greenblatt, Adam Driver, Chloe Coleman

A Quiet Place scribes Scott Beck and Bryan Woods here take on directing duties for – effectively – a higher concept remake with none of the excitement, flare or dynamic visual storytelling that typified their prior hit. Given that the idea here is that Adam Driver is a spaceman who accidentally crashes to Earth 65 million years ago and has to flee before an asteroid comes to decimate all the dinosaurs… what follows really ought to be even a tiny bit of fun and not, actually, a depressing dirge to sit through.

Driver’s exotically named alien dude Mills speaks English, suffers human pain (a lot of human pain) and has a woefully uninspired flicker of backstory in that his daughter Nevine (Chloe Coleman) once got sick and died seemingly because he wasn’t around. Surprising no one, Mills isn’t the sole survivor of his intergalactic fender bender. Also breathing Earth air is Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), a precocious kid who doesn’t speak English, nullifying the need for much in the way of dialogue even as she jabbers on in something that sounds vaguely Eastern European. Naturally, Mills wrestles a touch with the emotional wounds opened up by having to care for a child again, but most of the time he’s too busy relentlessly falling over or getting goosed from behind by dinosaurs to get overly introspective.

Not that we get a good look at many of them. 65 almost wholly takes place in the woods, the rain, the dark, some caves or a dour combination of all of the above. Mills’ only source of illumination amounts to a AA battery flashlight, meaning that much of what follows takes place authentically in near total obscurity. Foes are glimpsed – barely – before swerving back into the murk and the same can often be said for the two leads. Beck and Woods’ staging is deeply uninspired and this extends to their nous for action. As a result – in spite of a potentially gleeful premise – 65 is thunderously dull to look at. The best articulated action sequence is rendered in digital ball-bearings on Mills’ fancy scanner thingy*.

We’ve all grown accustom to dinosaurs on screen thanks to so many Jurassic Parks and Worlds. Still, there ought to be some effort made to muster wonder at their mythic presence on screen with our stumbling heroes. If that was the aim here, it’s buried. Indeed, dino action often feels like an afterthought. This is mainly about what a pain it is to trek 15km over a hill with a child and a bad shoulder. A moderately mystifying amount of time is spent stuck in a cave riffing on The Descent with none of the suspense, while 65‘s fondness of the “it’s behind you!” jump scare is annoyingly repetitive… only effective at upsetting children whose parents have been lured in by the soft 12A certificate.

This isn’t a kids movie. It’s too miserable, too filled with suffering and hardship. But adults will feel alienated also, by the lack of imagination, by the forceful sentimentalism in place of any inspired connection between Mills and Koa, by the familiarity that just breeds contempt especially given the concept. Koa could have provided some firecracker spirit. She doesn’t. Granted she is afforded one moment of wily flare. Too bad it’s outright stolen from Predator. As for Driver? It’s a mystery why he’s here.

The only light at the end of the tunnel involves spring-boarding off planet while all of Mills and Koa’s scaly menaces are unceremoniously wiped out in a mass extinction event. They weren’t hurting anyone! Well… not really. It lends the big finale a muted sense of triumph and, when Beck and Woods’ names fade serenely into view signifying its the end of the movie, it’s hard to feel much other than relief that this briefly bum-numbing endeavour is over.

If you’re after energetic, well-lit action fantasy nonsense where a duo who can’t speak to each other hunt monsters… just watch Paul W.S. Anderson’s dopily appealing Monster Hunter movie. The lasting sensation is that 65 would have worked better as an immersive video game. On that subject, it suffers further appearing in the same season as HBO’s The Last of Us adaptation, which trumps the dynamic offered here at every conceivable turn. Hell, even the fricking Mandalorian does.

Still, you do get to see a dinosaur getting boiled to death, so there is that.

2 of 10

*the scanner does have multiple functions; too bad none of them are as a universal translator

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