A science fiction short story of good calibre!
A space ship pilot crash lands on a hostile, primal world. It isn’t long before he finds himself in a race against time to escape.
Written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the minds behind A Quiet Place, 65 sees Mills (played by Adam Driver) attempt to survive on a dangerous alien world with limited resources. This being a science fiction film, through and through, he is armed with futuristic weaponry, but perhaps not the best equipment for dealing with literal dinosaurs and jungle. On top of that, he finds a survivor from his crash; a young girl, who he takes responsibility for and attempts to rescue them both from the perilous world.
Sometimes films don’t need to be complicated. Sometimes you just want to see a movie, enjoy it, and move on. 65 is such a movie. It isn’t overly dumb, it should be clarified. But it is a science fiction story straight from a 1970s short story compendium; a flight of fancy. You want to see a man fight dinosaurs with a laser gun? You got it!
Writers and directors Beck and Woods do enjoy their serene tone though. As per A Quiet Place, 65 is heavily weighted into a survivalist story. It isn’t always pew pew, shoot the monsters! The film tells you this from the very start, as we see Adams as Mills, enjoying time with his wife and daughter on the beach. The film’s premise goes hand-in-hand with a story of loss and fighting to carry on in spite of it.
But despite a very human tale, the film is minimalist still. His only companion is a young girl who doesn’t speak a language he understands, forcing them both into often begrudging silences as they trek through the wooded jungles. A lot of exposition is done either through very brief flashbacks, or through video/hologram footage of past events, which work well and give emotional drive to the characters without making the screenplay feel clunky.
There are moments of levity too, as the characters bond a little despite their (or due to) their language barrier. Just enough that by the end the audience has enough to feel invested in the struggle.
Now, 65 reminds one a little of 2013’s Oblivion by director Joseph Kosinski. A neat little sci-fi caper. Similarly, they both have a premise that is fairly spoiled by the trailer. Although 65 does wear it on its sleeve, so spoiler territory doesn’t really exist?
Mills isn’t human; as in, he and his ship are from another world in another solar system. He crash lands on prehistoric Earth, and these are actual Earth dinosaurs he his battling against. His ship is downed by a “uncharted asteroid” (gee, I wonder what that could be implying.) The title itself is a giveaway. As such, the film isn’t hugely surprising, with its premise. There aren’t any twists or surprises. No “You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you!” sorts of dialogues. The film very much tells a small, concise story.
(if you haven’t seen Oblivion by the way, do watch it, it is very good. Just DON’T watch trailers)
One thing that can be said for 65, is that it actually has good jump scares. Jump scares are often misused, cartoonishly obvious, or just really loud so you have to jump at them. This film does really well with the timing of the scares; regularly catching you off-guard. It also does things that Ridley Scott messed up with Alien: Covenant and Prometheus. This film has a character who checks if the air is breathable on an unknown planet before trying.
The performances are fine. Adam Driver can damn near sell anything, and here he spends a lot of time gasping, grunting and getting terribly hurt. Ariana Greenblatt plays Koa, and does a great job with the material and sells the difficulties that these two characters have to go through emotionally.
Science fiction is an easy sell here on Cinema Cocoa, and 65 was exactly what was expected but also a neat little adventure. Short at 94 minutes, concise without being burdened, decent special effects and logic from the characters. Overall, a good time!
Additional Info: There was one thing that seemed out of character narratively, but to elaborate would be massive spoilers.