Buried deep on some alien planet or however long ago 65 pretends to care its setting is, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods attempt to craft action-packed set pieces from foliage. They do their best to channel the mentality of action movies from a few decades ago. A crisp running time, big effects and bigger names. But they forget the best of the genre had either an action cheese or a solidified story that did not rely on an empty opening crawl, as empty as the galaxies they attempt to show. Middling at best and striking through with that survival exploration style, Adam Driver pulls himself together for a financially competent feature that he will use, as Jake Gyllenhaal did with Spider-Man: No Way Home, to fund smarter and better projects. 65 is not problematic or riddled with errors, just a bit lacklustre when it comes to cementing its new world.
Decent work from Driver is expected and worked on with tame foreshadowing and inarticulate back and forth between a father and daughter. Their dynamic is brief. Beck and Woods remember they are shooting their way through space and their aimless science-fiction direction, which draws from all the sleek designs of Passenger and the space-faring woes of Mass Effect. Shockingly empty, as vacant as the space Driver crashes through. Driver sells the scenes following the initial crash well enough, peeling away at bits of himself as he removes metal fragments and stumbles around the inevitably red-glowing ship. 65 of course becomes a cut-and-shut feature that relies on the usual run of the sci-fi gauntlet but the minimal changes it makes impact the creativity of a scene.
Driver wandering the halls of a destroyed space station and gearing up for the life-or-death showdowns yet to come looks marvellous and provides a sense of visual space to his surroundings. What it does not benefit from is his Power Rangers-like grasshopper suit and his videograms to Star Command or whatever entity he is hoping to contact. Musical cues are ever constant and attempt to massage some meaning or want into the survival rates of a leading man with barely a name. Mills is the name, though, and Driver does deal with those prehistoric horrors as best as one person can. Empty emotional support and fighting off rodent-like dinosaur babies is not as entertaining as it was when they did it over a decade ago in King Kong.
Somehow introducing another survivor does nothing at all, and while an alien with the full route of human appendages and a whistling bit of foreshadowing is all well and good, it does little for 65. Even in that great outdoors, 65 feels stuffy and tired of itself. Driver looks tired. He cannot contain his lack of excitement. Neither can the audience. Dealing with dinosaurs as best it can, 65 is at least brief with its running time. With that brevity comes a pace which feels fascinating in the days of two hours onward for the simplest of stories. Driver shows that there is a place for the short and sweet styles of old, but 65 does not have the story to showcase that. It can barely stretch itself to that hour and a half, with squandered bits of brief potential making for spotty moments almost worth watching.