ARQ – Stupid name, alright movie

“ARQ” is a dystopian sci-fi flick exclusive to Netflix about Renton (Robbie Amell), an apparently brilliant engineer, who wakes up several times.

Well, he wakes up several times because an infinite energy source in his garage is causing a three-hour time loop because of reasons. Unfortunately this magical loop starts just before four raiders break into his bedroom.

The dialog is chock-a-block full of made-up words and sci-fi jargon from minute one, seemingly written entirely to confuse the audience. With each time loop the viewer should know more about Renton’s world and backstory, so more and more names register.

In a world with a strong, interesting backstory in which the writer has spent a good amount of time building, this would be a good enough hook to drive a time-loop movie.

This is not the case for “ARQ.”

Every generic plot point of a dystopian sci-fi is present in “ARQ”, so much so one could realistically create a drinking game based around spotting elements lifted from other stories.

Some sort of airborne virus killed millions and makes going outside dangerous? Check.

A talking head on TV lists a bunch of disasters around the world? Check.

Freedom fighters wish to use a magic bullet device to defeat an evil corporation? Check.

Said evil corporation is mentioned about a billion times in conversation? Double-check.

There are a few nuggets of interesting scenes scattered throughout the story as we follow Robbie “Josh Hutchinson said no” Amell run around a cool futuristic version of a run-down house, occasionally reminding people he’s a brilliant engineer despite doing nothing particularly brilliant.

It’s hard to discuss in any level of detail what particularly happens in “ARQ” that makes it worth watching, but suffice it to say: as the plot progresses, Renton discovers he’s not the only person who can remember what happened in previous time loops.

The best thing I can say about ARQ, at least as a sci-fi aficionado, is I wouldn’t object to a second viewing with friends, if only to have a lengthy discussion of how cool it could have been under better circumstances.

On a more conspiratorial note it seems even Netflix shares my feelings for the movie, as the promotional stills on the website and the film’s official poster do everything in their power to cram as much sci-fi imagery in a potential viewer’s face to sell this movie.

In truth it’s a low-budget flick made by a first-time director (Tony Elliott) with a cast of seven actors. It might not be the best thing ever saved to hard drive but it’s a fun ride at times.