Outside the Star Wars franchise, films operating with tech advancements often tell stories set in the future, where the industry has had time to study and develop such improvements. 65 goes against that grain, sending us some 65 million years into the past where an astronaut (Adam Driver) crash lands on a then undiscovered planet Earth.
Filled with stunning visuals of prehistoric creatures and open terrain, the premise of 65 is interesting, opening the door to a wealth of creativity and ingenuity. The lush green grass gives way to a barren wasteland, undeniably feasted on by wild game, as Driver's Mills becomes familiar with his bearings to locate his only realistic chance of escape.
While everyone else on board was presumed dead, Ariana Greenblatt's Koa appears to have overcome the insurmountable odds. Desperate to find her family, she agrees to travel across the region to the top of the mountain, where an escape pod rests. Though a language barrier exists between Earth's two new inhabitants, they both understand the urgency of the situation.
Though unique and original, 65 struggles with its direction, never fully understanding or embracing its tone and often refusing to let the story venture in its own direction. The narrative, recycled and uninventive, never feels comfortable as Driver constantly finds himself in a state of peril with no authentic character connection to lean on.
Briefly, at the story's onset, we get a glimpse of Mills' life outside of the crash. We meet his wife and sick daughter, and learn that he is taking the longer than typical assignment in exchange for a pay increase that will afford his daughter the treatment she needs. It's bare bones and basic. We know nothing about his life, training, or home planet Somaris. We find ourselves left in the dark, the details likely sitting haphazardly on the cutting room floor. As a result, we have no connection to Mills' or his quest for survival.
Regardless, visually speaking, 65 is engaging. Embracing the limited facts we know about Earth's history, writers/directors Scott Beck ad Bryan Woods weave fact with fiction, taking creative liberties where necessary to successfully conjure up a story that, though narratively ordinary, is visually enjoyable.
And that's where the heart of 65 lies, in its visuals. Though Driver gives a satisfying performance, and co-star Ariana Greenblatt more than holds her own, neither is able to save the film from its dreariness. In reality, nothing substantial happens throughout the nearly ninety-minute feature. And potholes aside, the film's conclusion leaves a plethora of questions that will forever remain unanswered.
Perhaps originally positioned as a three-hour epic adventure, merging the likes of Jurassic Park and Alien, somewhere in the creative process, 65 lost its footing, scrambling to make both ends meet, ultimately sacrificing the meat of the story. It's fine. Truthfully, Driver distracts from a lot of the creative mishaps. But for those paying close attention, you can't help but wonder what could have been. The film, a vast reservoir of potential, never materializes. The result is disappointing, and it's hard to disregard the feeling that this film should have been exponentially better.