In the future, you might invent something that solves the energy crisis, but just get ready to be stuck in a time-loop for your troubles. Netflix’s new upcoming original science fiction film ARQ creates a horrific dystopia with real-world inspiration meshed with familiar sci-fi tropes.
In a time-looping plot, a man is doomed to repeat his mistakes in an attempt to subvert disaster. We’ve seen this kind of sci-fi disaster-on-loop idea before, too. A bomb on a train (Source Code), an alien invasion (Edge of Tomorrow), or just personal decay (Groundhog Day), the essential premise is the same. Lots of screw ups lead to incremental knowledge and eventually the day is saved and true love is (maybe) won.
Still, ARQ might distinguish itself by the world-building at the fringes of its unoriginal plot. The society outside the laboratory run by Arrow’s cousin (Robbie Amell) and Jessica Jones’ ass-kicking buddy (Rachael Taylor) is being ripped apart in a world-wide war for the last vestiges of energy on the planet. Flung a few centuries into the future, that premise isn’t super far-fetched from a real world standpoint.
Where the fiction part comes in is the humming metal chamber in the bowels of the Matrix-themed lab, the contents of which just might supply enough energy to sate the entire world’s needs. Of course, that’s probably why some militant dicks are interested in murdering the engineers and doing God knows what with the energy source. It’s up to the duo — who get stuck in an unending loop of clue hunting and getting murdered — to put an end to the raid and help save the world.
Fortunately for potential audiences, the story comes from the mind of Tony Elliot, an accomplished screenwriter and Orphan Black vet. This is Elliot’s feature film debut, but he’s stacked the cast with some solid leads. The Flash veteran Amell is a talented actor with range, and watching his journey from lab nerd to unlikely hero just might be worth two hours of your time. At his side is Rachael Taylor, one of the bright spots of Netflix’s Jessica Jones.
In other words, ARQ and its plausible future world might be an under-the-radar winner when it premieres on Netflix September 16.