A curiously – or incuriously – bare-bones exercise from proficient bare-bones A Quiet Place instigators Scott Beck and Bryan Wood. 65 evidences they’d have been capable enough if given a chance to helm A Quiet Place, but that movie, for all its failings in ironing out the logic of its high concept, could nevertheless boast an effective high concept. It lured audiences in and became a surprise sleeper hit. 65 announces its high concept at the outset, but all it can elicit is a shrug of indifference. Battlestar Galactica (the remake) at least had the decency to leave its reveal to the end of the show. 65’s doesn’t even mean anything. It isn’t like Driver is destined to become the Adam of this world.
Mills: There’s something alien out there, and it’s dangerous.
That’s right. 15 minutes into 65, we get the movie title, unspooling to state further “… million years ago, a visitor crash-landed on Earth” (you’d also know this if you’d seen the trailer). Wow! The alien world is Earth! It’s sure to result in something clever and causal, right? Nah, ’fraid not. This is basically Deep Impact, but Adam – and his surviving junior passenger – has to dodge deadly dinosaurs as he treks to an escape pod before the asteroid deep sixes him. It’s a disaster movie as fait accompli, and as lack lustre as that set up is, the resultant stakes and trajectory compound the feeling that this is terribly ordinary.
The scenario is a veritable smorgasbord, a rollcall of Elite fiction, of NASA space and globe Earth, of millions of years of pre-history, of dinosaurs and extinction-level comet strikes. Which is all very (un)well, but it might at least have included some imaginative spark, something to make 65 seem anything more than (expensive) STV SF (it cost $90m before tax rebates!)
For reasons best known to him, Driver was unaccountably drawn to the material. Perhaps his agent said he needed something commercial instead of pursuing all those more interesting roles. If so, it hasn’t stuck (he has a Coppola and two Manns on the way). Mills is a stripped-down, actioneering role anyone could play; his pilot must protect the child – Ariana Greenblatt’s Koa, who doesn’t speak English, just for added difficulty (it’s the writers opting for another communication obstacle, per A Quiet Place’s deafness) – and get her off the planet before they’re wiped out with the dinosaurs.
Mills initially appears to be accepting his fate, before discovering the girl (we later learn his sickly daughter died while he was away; he only took the two-year gig for her benefit). En route for the escape pod, Mills proves very fallible, getting himself impaled with shrapnel – will he succumb to the infection? – suffering a dislocated arm, getting embroiled in quick sand, losing Koa in a rock fall, and encountering all manner of snappy, bitey prehistoric reptiles (well, contemporary ones from his point of view). These consist of various made-up dinosaurs to accompany the made-up dinosaurs we know about; there’s an obligatory T-Rex, naturally.
Captain Mark Richards has it that the deal with all these big-budget dinosaur movies is they’re Raptor propaganda (they fund them, and they also rent country estates in Scotland). Raptors being – per what they’ve told him – humanoid reptiles from millions of years ago. You may scoff at such notions, and rightly so, as Raptors were actually rustled up by the Anunnaki and then inserted historically into Earth’s record (within the last 2,000-year timeframe, however).
Naturally, the Raptor story supports the “historical” account of dinosaurs. So Richards claims they are a “space-faring race that has been around 65m years… or longer”. He says they left Earth, then – doubtless to avoid this movie’s extinction-level event – journeyed into a wormhole, went into some kind of suspended animation, and returned a few million years ago (having established a home in the Draco galaxy). The Raptors, Richards further attests, are friendly (they don’t eat humans anymore, which is nice of them). It’s the Draco they have a beef with. Ex- of the Secret Space Programme Corey Goode didn’t seem so favourably disposed towards them, but he did vouch for Raptors’ dislike of the Draco. Of course, with all such hidden subjects, sifting through the deception and disinfo is fundamental; Richards attests to globe Earth amongst other things. It may be he believes the Raptor line he’s been fed, or he may have been creating varying degrees of confusion, offering a blend of truths and fictions (his account of Spider Troggs in Vietnam appears to be accurate).
Undoubtedly, though, Hollywood has displayed a peculiar preservation-first ethos in its depiction of deadly dinos since they underwent a cinematic rebirth with Jurassic Park. The idea that one should save at all costs something that has a staunchly inimical attitude towards us is perhaps bizarre, yet the Jurassic Park movies have treated prehistoric carnivores and herbivores alike, hence a “run away, don’t shoot or blow them up” policy on the parts of protagonists.
Opening Text: Prior to the advent of mankind, in the infinity of space, other civilisations explored the heavens.
Mills isn’t so fussy, and most of the ones we see in 65 are outright nasty. Nevertheless, there’s a notable scene in which Koa insists on saving a cutsey-wutsey ickle dinosaur from a bog, and Mills is forced to help her. The cutsey-wutsey ickle dinosaur is promptly set upon by some voracious smaller dinosaurs, perhaps as some kind of lesson; Koa later comes to Mills’ rescue by plunging a sharp object into the eye of a large Fasolasuchus (we’re authoritatively informed it’s an extinct species of loricatan, a clade of archosaur reptiles. Crocodiles, basically, but invented prehistoric ones). Dinosaurs ARE nasty, and you should steer well clear of anything of their ilk? No mutually-co-existent Jurassic World scenarios in the offing, then.
65’s most estimable quality is its brevity, but it still makes for a long 93 minutes.