“It’s plot is a familiar one, but it stands out with its writing, effects, and acting.”
Netflix has been hitting it out of the park lately, and the new film ARQ is no exception. ARQ is a film that follows Renton and Hannah, who wake up to a home invasion. They get taken to the garage but something goes wrong and Renton dies. The movie then follows Renton and Hannah who wake up to a home invasion, but this time it’s Deja-vu for Renton. That’s right, much like Groundhog Day or Edge of Tomorrow (or whatever the hell they’re calling that movie now) ARQ deals with a repeating timeline. It’s up to Renton to figure out what is causing his day to repeat, and what exactly caused these men to break into his home.
Like I mentioned, this plot is not one that is unique. We’ve seen it before countless times, in countless different settings. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be entertaining. ARQ manages to find a way to take this tried-and-true plot device and inject it with enough twists to keep you guessing throughout.The setting is small (confined to one house), so not only is the main character getting used to a routine in these time loops, but so are we. This adds an interesting character trait that was acted beautifully throughout the film. As time passed we could see that the main character not only expected things to happen, but also was upset about things that did happen to him in past loops. It really added this depth to the character that I thought was well written, as well as acted. It’s also nice to be able to catch on to smaller details, which helps with world building, by revisiting the same instance over and over. This movie is not without flaws however, and one of the larger ones pertains to the time loop.
One of the issues I had with ARQ is that, even though time is looping and we (the audience) are gaining new information, the characters seems to make stupid decisions anyway. I won’t go into specifics because I don’t want to spoil the film so I’ll keep it vague. The main character takes action A, this causes reaction B. Reaction B ends with the main character dying. When he wakes up again, he thinks about it for a minute but still decides to go with action A, even though action B is fairly obvious to the audience. Granted this only happens a couple of times, but it happens with plot points that are fairly important to the story.
There were also some smaller issues in ARQ, mainly time related. Specifically, some things happen that in reality wouldn’t have had time to happen. This is usually the cause of a ‘twist’ in the story, so of course it has to be surprising, but if anything can happen in any amount of time than the twists don’t have the same impact. Really this only affected one portion of the film, but it was something I felt that I should mention.
ARQ is a sci-fi movie, and because of that it has a few special effects in it. For the most part these effects are great, the look real, and they look really cool. The problem came right at the end of the film when we get to see something that looks not so great. It is immediately recognizable as CGI, and it sucks because it didn’t even need to be shown in the first place. It pains me to have to write about this because the film was doing so well, but at the end it stumbled and looked like a made-for-television movie. This won’t knock points off, because like I said it was an isolated incident, but again I felt that I had to bring it up.
Ultimately ARQ is a pretty solid sci-fi movie. It’s plot is a familiar one, but it stands out with its writing, effects, and acting.
I give ARQ a B.