The sci-fi thriller “65” is a “Twilight Zone” episode that over-explains its set-up and surrenders its punch line, a simple quest narrative that lacks thrills and never makes us invest in it and the first serious miscalculation Adam Driver’s made since taking a shot at playing the villainous Kylo Ren.Decent effects, next-gen CGI dinosaurs, interesting “ticking clock” thrown into the narrative by the title. But it never quite grabs you in the most fundamental way.
We’re meant to see the crashed, hopelessly lost and suicidal alien pilot (Driver) who left his family — sickly daughter included — for this latest years-long “exploratory mission,” find purpose as he resolves to save a little girl (Arianna Greenblatt) the only survivor among his passengers, and get her off prehistoric Earth before something eats her.Driver’s a fine actor who never feels committed to the role, merely competent in it. Perhaps he had a feeling of just how little there is to the movie. With Netflix serving up Oscar bait, or at least challenging parts — EVERYbody watched “White Noise” after that Ohio train derailment — Driver’s cursed with knowing the difference between good scripts and simply high-paying ones.
“65” gives away its best gimmick in the trailer and starts with a tedious back-story prologue that FURTHER dispels any sense of mystery. It tumbles into its trek from crashed space ship through the swampy, dino-gator-filled valley and up the mountain where a somewhat intact shuttle craft lies in other wreckage.
The pilot and the passenger don’t speak the same language. The script limits the sort of tech that survived the landing to a gun, marble-sized grenades, the distress signal communicator and a nav-gadget with projector qualities so that the pilot can watch holograms of his own child.
I’d quote good dialogue but there isn’t any. The fights and actions, aided by judicious use of sudden LOUD sound effects, are competently-handled and generic in the extreme in their choices of perils.
“65” is “After Earth” with little that would pass for humor and no swagger. The limited thrills and Driver’s bland by-the-book approach make this play like the extremely-padded-with-filler “Twilight Zone” episode it was begging to be.
Rating: PG-13 for intense sci-fi action and peril, and brief bloody images
Cast: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Nika King and Chloe Coleman.
Credits: Scripted and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. A Sony/Columbia release.
Running time: 1:33