“I don’t have time for us”: ‘ARQ’ Review
Groundhog Day. Edge of Tomorrow. We all love those time travel movies where the characters get to relive the same day over and over again – it allows for some great character development and story interactions. Thankfully, ARQ follows in those same footsteps with thrilling results.
The story picks up with Renton (Robbie Amell), an engineer who has created one of the most prized possessions in the world, waking up to a home invasion. Next to him is Hannah (Rachael Taylor) who is also captured and apprehended by a group of dangerous people. Within that setup there is a time loop caused by Renton’s machine – the ARQ – an energy turbine capable of producing time loops. Without giving anything away, that’s all I’ll say about the basic premise of the film, this is a film that rewards not knowing anything about it, and without a doubt, ARQ is so fun to watch based on its many twists and turns.
Written and directed by Tony Elliot (a writer on the critically acclaimed show Orphan Black), ARQ does a great job of presenting its storytelling via visuals and background information. We never get a crawl explaining what year the film takes place in or what’s going, just like Renton we’re thrust into the world and forced to learn about what is going on with him. It’s a great way of presenting your story and specifically the world of your story without explaining outright what is going on and why. Not only does the film have a home invasion plot but one of the main subplots involves how the two rival corporations in this near future affect the lives of our main characters.
One of the coolest things about ARQ is its world building; Elliot does a great job of making that world feel tangible and plausible. His vision of the future is one that very prescient and very close to ours – the ARQ isn’t some fancy time machine but rather a giant engine turbine that could theoretically be manufactured at a factory. Another excellent idea that ARQ explores is making our characters aware of the time loops – sometimes it starts out with only one character, but Elliot allows great exploration of character by having multiple characters aware of what is going on.
Plus, it’s even more impressive and thrilling to think about it because the film takes place entirely in one location and Elliot makes the most out of that location beautifully. ARQ is a film that never lets up – clocking in roughly at around 90 minutes – it has the pace of a film that just continues to build up is constantly moving its storytelling pieces. With its myriad of twists and turns and economical storytelling, ARQ is a wonderful little gem that is available to watch on Netflix. Visually dynamic, thrilling and featuring memorable characters in a compelling plot about time loops, ARQ will be something you’ll want to start watching again as soon as the credits are over.