Business trips are just the worst. Just ask Mills.
The originally scheduled trip was bad enough: a two-year interplanetary journey, shuttling a bunch of cryogenically suspended passengers on an “exploratory mission.” Two years is a long time to be away, especially when you have a critically ill daughter back home. But how else is Mills going to afford his daughter’s treatment? Health care is apparently not any cheaper on Mills’ home planet of Somaris than it is here.
Yes, if everything went as planned, the job would’ve still been lacking. But you know how trips are: weather delays, unscheduled maintenance, your occasional killer asteroid storm. Mills’ ship was hit by the latter, sending it careening off course and crash-landing on some strange, green and insanely deadly world.
Half of the ship—the part that Mills is attached to—landed in a fetid swamp. The rest—including the ship’s only still-working escape pods—now sits on a big ol’ mountain, a good 10 miles away. And while 10 miles might not sound like a long way, it is when the crash pretty much sounded the dinner gong for the surrounding fauna.
Oh, and when you’re babysitting a 9-year-old girl.
That girl would be Koa, the only other survivor. And just to add to the degree of difficulty, she doesn’t speak English. (Though one wonders why Mills, coming from the planet Somaris and all, is so fluent in it.) Her parents are dead, though she doesn’t know it just yet. The planet seems to want her dead, too—which is soon made very clear.
Mills and Koa will have to cross jungles and rivers, avoid poisonous berries and insidious parasites, fight small dinosaurs, big dinosaurs and positively gargantuan dinosaurs.
And that asteroid shower? It’s heading their way, too. Y’know, just to make things interesting.
But at least Mills didn’t fly coach.
When Mills realizes the predicament that he’s in, he’s ready to just give up. But when Mills learns that someone else has survived the crash, too, he does his very best to get he and the girl back home. He’s not always the most touchy-feely of protectors, but he is a ferocious one. Slowly, he begins to treat Koa a little like his own surrogate daughter.
Koa, meanwhile, proves to be perhaps even more brave than her brave protector. Understandably, she’s a little unnerved when she saves a dino cub from a perilous tar pit, only to see it devoured by predators a mere 90 seconds later. But once she understands that pretty much everything on the planet would like to eat her, Koa becomes surprisingly resourceful. She also rescues Mills a time or two—and given that she’s 9 years old, that’s pretty impressive. When my kids were 9, they didn’t even save me ice cream.
Twenty minutes or so in, we learn that Mills and Koa have crash-landed on prehistoric Earth: The movie’s title, 65, comes from the fact that this is Earth from 65 million years ago, and obviously evolution is implied.
Herbivores are about as common as accredited universities in this prehistoric world of 65, and the bevy of meat-hungry dinosaurs must’ve been thrilled at the prospect of eating something besides each other.
They do eat each other, by the way: Raptor-like dinos swarm over a sweet-but-limping bit of immature prey (though, given the teeth on the thing, that dino likely would’ve grown up on a nice diet of meat, too, so perhaps it was a preemptive strike). Lizard-like beasts catch and kill pterodactyl-like beasts.
And all have their big, beady eyes focused on Mills and Koa—attacking them at every opportunity. One of the most disturbing critters to attack actually does its work from the inside. (We see the thing when the victim’s mouth is opened. If it was sentient, it surely would be cackling with malicious glee.)
Mills responds to most of these threats with a nifty energy blaster, which gorily blows apart the smaller dinosaurs and perforates the bigger ones. He and Koa also use tiny marble-like explosive devices to dispatch a few monsters. Koa poisons a massive fang (or horn) she finds and stabs a Tyrannosaurus-like dinosaur right in the eye socket. (It’s pretty impressive, really, that she can even lift the thing.) Mills smashes a much smaller dino repeatedly with his weapon.
But those aren’t the only dangers to beset the pair or their would-be predators. Geysers prove to be dangerous (and telltale dinosaur bones beside one indicates that they’re sometimes lethal). Tar pits can mire the unsuspecting in its gooey folds. Quicksand—a peril that I’ve not seen on screen since Gilligan’s Island—nearly kills one of our human heroes.
And, of course, one must not forget the asteroid shower, which includes a huge one that pretty much (according to many scientists) ended the age of the dinosaurs forever. Add the dino fatality count after that big event, and we’re looking at a pretty huge number.
As mentioned, Mills’ ship crashes, which claimed the lives of 30-some passengers. While they hope they were sleeping when they slipped the surly bonds of earth, we do see their dead bodies lying about in a swamp. Mills is injured in the crash, too; he yanks a piece of metal from his midsection and painfully sprays it with a coolant. (It continues to cause him periodic discomfort throughout.) He also dislocates a shoulder, and sprains an ankle, and falls from a big tree, and is bitten by a very nasty dino and nearly perishes in a crumbling cave (as does Koa). It’s surprising he wasn’t beset by killer bees (though he does gorily crush a huge insect or two).
Koa, meanwhile, was burned in the crash (an injury that Mills treats), and she’s yanked around by a dinosaur by the hair, which can’t be fun. We also hear that someone has died (back on Somaris, Mills’ home planet).
Mills swears on occasion: three s-words and one use of the word “d–n.” Koa is blissfully unaware of these linguistic missteps, though we English/Somarian speakers in the audience are not.
None. Not surprising, given the lack of taverns in the region.
Despite the language barrier between Mills and Koa, Mills still manages to lie to Koa—communicating to her that her parents are alive and well with the other half of the ship. Even at 9, you’d think Koa would be a little suspicious, given the state of the other half of the ship and, y’know, the dead bodies there and stuff. But perhaps children are more trusting on Somaris.
The critter that sneaks inside someone’s body causes that person to kinda vomit/froth at the mouth.
The movie 65 is not destined to go down as an all-time sci-fi classic. Despite the always-interesting presence of Adam Driver in, um, the driver’s seat, this turn-back-the-clock thriller ultimately boasts more plot holes than asteroid craters, and that’s saying something.
But while 65 has problems, it doesn’t lack heart. This quasi father-daughter story is sweet in its own way. And except for a rather surprising amount of dino-blood and guts, 65 plays it surprisingly clean.
Adam Driver’s latest sci-fi thriller is a B movie, plain and simple. But 65 does tell us that the love of a father and daughter—even if they’re not actually related—can defeat dinosaurs, asteroids and everything in between.
And that message is T-rex-eriffic.
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.