The headline for this article is pretty much all you need to know about the new sci-fi action thriller “65,” which stars Marine Corps veteran Adam Driver as a spaceship pilot who survives a crash and must fight his way off a remote planet populated by hungry dinosaurs. Either that description wins your hearts and minds, or it doesn’t.
The whole shooting match lasts for 93 minutes (including credits), and you get to see Driver go tactical with guns and grenades, which was an upgrade over the lightsaber he used when playing Kylo Ren in the “Star Wars” sequels.
For whatever reason, Sony Pictures did almost no publicity for this movie and didn’t screen it for movie critics and journalists before its release in theaters on March 10, 2023. That’s why I found myself at its first paid screening at 4 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon with a theater half full of people who were either huge Adam Driver fans or excited to see some dinosaurs get their heads blown off.
The movie press loves to get its hands on a film that isn’t screened in advance, because most writers think they’ve been given permission to tee off on it and go in looking for things to complain about. A quick check of Rotten Tomatoes confirms that assessment, as almost no one wants to be the lone critic who has something nice to say about a movie that the studio dumped.
So here are some facts about the movie. Driver is Mills, a spaceship pilot from an advanced civilization filled with beings who look and act a lot like humans. The film opens with the fact that it’s taking place 65 million years ago, so we’re not spoiling anything here.
Mills took a two-year gig to raise money to treat his critically ill daughter. His ship runs into an uncharted meteor shower and crashes on a planet that we’re 95% sure is Earth. The passengers he was transporting all died except for a young girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt, Disney’s “Stuck in the Middle”). Mills and Koa speak different languages, and their electronic translator was destroyed in the crash.
The ship had an escape pod, but it landed 14 kilometers away when the craft broke up as it entered the atmosphere. Can Mills get Koa to the craft without either or both of them being killed by one of the wide variety of dinosaurs that populate the planet?
Here’s the good part: Driver gets to play a lot of the boring stuff that comes between the bursts of action, providing a more complete tactical experience than the one you get from movies that are nonstop action or mostly action with a few jokes thrown in to break up the flow.
The guns and grenades may use tech that we’ve never seen before here on Earth, but it seems like space travelers from eons ago use many of the same tactical skills that our operators use today. Driver’s not likely to make a lot of movies where he uses these skills.
Any kid you know who’s deep into dinosaurs will be able to figure out what’s going to happen based on the fact that the movie takes place 65 million years ago. Let’s just say that dinosaurs are not the only threat that Mills and Koa must face. Also, “65” is a PG-13 movie. It’s pretty bloody and on the harder side of the rating, but it’s not so gory that most kids older than 7 or 8 would be freaked out by the dinosaur carnage.
“65” is a modestly budgeted science fiction movie shot in the mountains of Oregon and the swamps of Louisiana. The dinosaur special effects were dropped in later, and they’re pretty good, far better than the rough stuff that’s showing up around the edges in the recent Marvel movie but not nearly as good as what James Cameron did with his nearly unlimited budget for “Avatar: The Way of Water.”
It all comes down to this: Adam Driver goes tactical on a herd of dinosaurs. If that plot summary gets your attention, then “65” will work for you.
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