Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's On Netflix?: ARQ

Welcome to another installment of WHAT'S ON NETFLIX?, where we pick out a film or series currently playing on Netflix and review it for the fans.  This week's selection is the brand new sci-fi film...ARQ.

**WARNING: This review may contain spoilers**

As someone who has always been a huge fan of science fiction, it should come as no surprise that I would be drawn to a film about time travel.  ARQ is a brand new Netflix Original film that follows Renton and Hannah (played by Robbie Amell and Rachel Taylor) who become trapped in a time loop during a home invasion.  The two of them must figure out what's causing this loop, while trying not to die over and over again, and find a way to stop it.

Right away the film jumps into action, with Renton waking up to a group of masked men taking them hostage for his "scrips", which for those unaware of the term, is just a type of alternate legal tender, similar to "credits" which are used in several sci-fi films.  From the opening shot, I had the feeling this wasn't the first time they had lived this day, but I wasn't sure if I'd ever actually get an answer to that question or not.  The time loop trope is played perfectly, keeping you guessing the whole time, with twists and turns popping up everywhere.

Writer/director Tony Elliott makes his feature film directorial debut here, but is no stranger to the genre, serving as the Executive Story Editor on both the Syfy series Hunters and the critically acclaimed BBC America series Orphan Black, which he also served as a writer on.  Elliott does an amazing job of taking the classic home invasion storyline and putting a great sci-fi twist on it.  I'm sure many people will compare this film to Groundhog Day or Edge of Tomorrow, and I don't blame them.  Those are, by far, the two most well-known films dealing with time loops, and it just makes sense that those comparisons would arise, but that's really where it ends.

One of the things I really liked about this film was the it's set in, what seems to be, a post-apocalyptic world, where there's an energy crisis taking place, things like birds and apples are no longer around, and people need air filter masks just to go outside.  However, you barely see this world, as the majority of the film takes place within Renton's house.

But no film can be great without a great cast, and the two leads are just that.  Robbie Amell shines as the leading man, Renton, an engineer who stole some very sensitive equipment (the ARQ) from a very large, very ruthless corporation named Torus.  I've liked him ever since I first saw him in the short lived CW series The Tomorrow People, followed by his role as Ronnie Raymond aka Firestorm in The Flash.  He even done a great sci-fi short film, Code 8, which is currently in the process of becoming a full length feature film.  He is joined by the very talented Rachel Taylor as Hannah.  They had great chemistry with one another, and really sold their broken relationship perfectly.

ARQ is a great little sci-fi film, which doesn't get all tangled up in convoluted storylines and time paradoxes.  It handles everything wonderfully, and if you're looking for something new and interesting to watch, I highly recommend checking this one out.

The Merc's Score: 8.5/10

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