As its status as one of Corner of Film’s most anticipated movies of 2023 should indicate, the general premise of 65 has a lot of potential. It tells the story of Mills (Adam Driver), the pilot of a space exploration mission transporting a ship full of passengers kept in stasis. When his ship crashes on an unknown planet, he finds himself fighting for his life against dinosaurs in a race against the clock.

65 makes it clear from the start that Mills is a member of a race of non-human aliens from a very long time ago originating in a different part of the galaxy. It very quickly establishes context for his mission (sick daughter requiring expensive treatment), but it mostly leaves the sci-fi stuff alone. Once his ship crashes, he’s left with whatever he can salvage. Instead, Mills must rely on his wits.

Thankfully, Driver doesn’t have to carry the entire film alone. After the crash, Mills discovers a single other survivor: a little girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) who doesn’t speak the same language as the pilot. With a language barrier between the only two humans (are they humans? It’s unclear) on the planet being hunted by dinosaurs, 65 certainly has the potential to be a pretty thrilling experience.

65 Somehow Manages To Be Both Dreary And Fun

Adam Driver and Ariana Greenblatt as Mills and Koa in 65 (2023)

The film’s big opening twist (the planet is actually ancient Earth? absolutely staggering) was pretty obvious, but that’s okay. It comes off as a little heavy-handed, but Driver’s grounded performance allows 65 to skim over any general cheesiness. However, once Koa is introduced, all pretence of intelligence flies out of the window.

It soon becomes clear that the relationship between the two characters is riddled with more holes than the dinosaur corpses Mills leaves in his wake. Both deliver good performances, but there’s an inherent stupidity in practically every one of 65‘s story beats. It’s so relentless that it saps most of the power the film should have.

However, thrilling action sequences and competent visual effects make 65 solidly entertaining. It has the feel of a genuinely good movie, and it’s all delivered with unearned conviction that allows it to get by in spite of its shortcomings. It’s predictable, but it nonetheless makes for good viewing.

Unfortunately, 65 ends with something of a whimper. Its climax is pretty dull, all things considered, and it misses one or two key opportunities in the process. It’s not a bad ending, just one we’ve seen a million times before. Ultimately, that sums 65 up pretty well: it’s more of the same, but it’s still not bad.

Rating: 55%

Summary: Solid acting and action keep 65‘s unintelligent plot afloat, but they can’t mask its blatant shortcomings.

Highlight: 65 boasts a number of fun action sequences that unexpectedly lean more into survival horror than sci-fi.