65 Treats Bad Health Insurance as a Permanent Factor Across Space and Time

While 65 starring Adam Driver isn’t a good movie, it does paint a dystopian portrait of terrible health insurance across the universe that is, unfortunately for us Americans, all too believable.

Somewhere in the middle of 65, it becomes clear there needed to be another spaceship survivor found, or something, anything, happening to complicate the narrative and goose it up a little. (Sony Pictures)

If you like Adam Driver, and you like dinosaurs, and you want to see the two put together in a series of chase and fight scenes, I guess 65 is your movie. Still, it seems like a film that fits such a description could have been more memorable.

A drab, downbeat time-travel adventure directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place) and produced by Sam Raimi, 65 concerns Mills (Driver), a space pilot from the advanced civilization on planet Somaris who is forced to leave his loving wife and ailing daughter behind for a two-year star trek, in order to pay for his daughter’s expensive health treatments. So far, so bleakly realistic.

Then during the journey, while his passengers and crew are oblivious in cryogenic sleep, the ship runs into an unforeseen asteroid belt. The asteroids’ blows to the spaceship’s surface awaken Mills, so he alone is conscious as the spaceship catches fire, careens off-course, and crash lands into a planet. Only when he’s out exploring his surroundings, having ascertained that everybody else is dead, does Mills figure out that he’s on Earth. Unfortunately for him, it’s the year 65 billion BC. Hence, 65.

Eventually he locates one other survivor of the crash, a girl named Koa (Arianna Greenblatt), who’s about his daughter’s age. “Oh lordy, he’s found a substitute daughter,” I thought. Sure enough, she’s going to motivate him to undertake extraordinary efforts to save her and get her back home, because he wasn’t there for his own dying daughter.

If this seems overly schematic, you’re getting the picture. The plotting is way too thin, giving you nothing to watch but the gradually developing trust between Mills and Koa, boringly depicted, while they try to make it across difficult landscape, eluding meat-eating dinosaurs at every turn, to reach the escape shuttle on the other chunk of the crashed spaceship. This is made a bit more difficult by the fact that Koa speaks no English. But not difficult in any compelling way.

Adam Driver and Arianna Greenblatt in 65. (Sony Pictures)

It’s all too straightforward: chase scene, laser-gun fight, chase scene, laser-gun fight, oops running out of ammo, wait, found some more ammo, and so on. During any brief downtime, there’s daddy-daughter-style bonding. A ticking clock is added when Mills realizes a huge asteroid, foretold by the storm of smaller asteroids that mangled his spaceship, is headed right for Earth, its flaming arc of imminent destruction already visible in the sky. Hang on — isn’t that the catastrophic event that supposedly killed off the dinosaurs?

But even with that wrinkle, somewhere in the middle of the movie, it becomes clear there needed to be another spaceship survivor found, or something, anything, happening to complicate the narrative and goose it up a little.

Driver claims he made the film for his son, who loves dinosaurs. Though his son also hates movies and so far refuses to watch 65.

I’m afraid if he ever does watch it, he’ll be confirmed in his hatred of movies, because it’s really not good. The film’s being shrugged off by audiences and critics alike as a dull plod, which seems ironic given that it’s essentially one big action scene with dinosaurs trying to eat Adam Driver.

Really, the only interesting part of the film is the matter-of-fact way it posits that in all times across the universe, in a world of advanced interplanetary space travel, health insurance is just as crappy as we know it to be in America today. People have to sell off years of their lives, essentially, just to afford medical treatments that ought to be covered, and the fates of whole families are blighted because of it. This refusal to address urgent human needs while chasing after wild technological achievements, especially fantastical space voyages that don’t benefit anybody, unfortunately seems all too believable.