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65’s ending explained

Warning: this article contains major spoilers for 65 (2023).

65’s story is fairly simple. Set “prior to the advent of mankind,” the sci-fi film follows Mills (Adam Driver), a for-hire pilot from a distant world who ends stranded on an uncharted planet after his ship is hit by an unexpected asteroid storm. With all of his cryogenically asleep passengers presumed dead, Mills briefly considers killing himself in 65’s opening minutes before he discovers that one of his passengers, a little girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), survived their crash.

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What is 65 about?

After waking Koa up, Mills takes it upon himself to journey with her to their ship’s emergency escape vessel, which crash-landed over a dozen kilometers away on a distant mountain. Unfortunately for Mills and Koa, viewers quickly discover that they haven’t crash-landed on just any planet, but a prehistoric Earth that is still populated by dinosaurs. As a result, the duo’s escape from Earth doesn’t end up being nearly as easy as they would have liked.

Over the course of 65’s lean 93-minute runtime, Mills and Koa are forced to face off against a number of dinosaurs, many of which immediately try to kill the pair. In case that wasn’t bad enough, it’s revealed in 65’s second act that the asteroid field that caused Mills and Koa’s ship to crash was merely the leftover debris from another much larger asteroid that is heading straight for Earth. The asteroid in question is the same one that will wipe out all of the planet’s non-avian dinosaurs.

Mills carries Koa through a swamp in 65.
Patti Perret/Sony Pictures Entertainment

Does Adam Driver really battle a Tyrannosaurus rex in 65?

Following their discovery of the incoming asteroid, Mills and Koa rush to get to their escape vessel before Earth’s surface is totally remade. Once they reach their escape vessel, however, Koa not only realizes that both of her parents were killed in the crash that brought her to Earth in the first place, but that Mills also lied to her about her family being at their destination. For a few moments, it looks like Koa and Mills are going to be split apart irrevocably by the latter’s grief and sense of betrayal.

Instead, Mills opens up to her about the loss of his own daughter, Nevine (Chloe Coleman), who died while he was away on the very mission that has brought him and Koa together. Despite not being able to fully understand him, Koa recognizes Mills’ vulnerability. It’s the pair’s shared grief, consequently, that brings them back together. Unfortunately, just as Koa and Mills are about to leave Earth, their escape vessel gets hit by a meteor, which sends it tumbling off its mountain perch.

On the ground, Mills and Koa find themselves surrounded by three very angry Tyrannosaurus rexes. Mills gets out of their escape vessel and manages to defeat two of the massive dinosaurs on his own. Once his sole weapon runs out of ammo, though, it’s only a well-timed geyser blast and a last-minute save from Koa that prevents the remaining T-Rex from killing Mills. With only seconds to spare, Mills and Koa then run back to their escape vessel and leave Earth just as it is hit by a planet-altering asteroid.

How does 65 end?

Mills shows a futuristic scanner to Koa in 65.
Patti Perret/Sony Pictures Entertainment

As he and Koa fly toward the rescue vessel waiting somewhere in the stars for them, Mills closes his eyes and remembers some of his final memories with his daughter. For a moment, it looks like the pilot is going to give in to the pain of his multiple wounds and die. He’s pulled back to consciousness, though, when Koa takes his hand in hers. 65 then ends on an image of Mills and Koa’s ship speeding away and becoming yet another speck of light in a sea of stars.

As far as endings go, 65’s is ultimately a reflection of the film itself. It’s a simple, bare-bones conclusion that plays with a lot of familiar ideas and story beats, but nonetheless achieves an emotional resolution that is moving in its own small way and surprisingly optimistic. As exciting as many of 65’s action sequences are, it’s really Mills and Koa’s ability to bond over their grief that keeps them alive. It’s only fitting then that 65 ends on an image that highlights both connection and loneliness in equal measure.

65 is now playing in theaters.

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