The Movie ARQ: Interpretations, Explanations, and Our Take on a Cool Post-Apocalyptic Story

ARQ, short for Arcing Recursive Quine, takes on the premise of a perpetual motion device that goes wrong and causes everyone in the vicinity to experience an endless time loop. Our protagonists are Renton (Robbie Amell), the inventor of the ARQ machine, and Hannah (Richard Taylor), his former lover. Many viewers will recognize them from CW series The Flash and MCU shows Jessica Jones, respectively. The film is about the couple’s struggle against intruders trying to take the machine Renton stole from his former employer, the Torus Corporation. The intruders are members of a rival organization. Some critics say the movie is nothing special and just a darker version of Groundhog Day, but there is more to ARQ than that. So, read on for everything you need to know about this amazing apocalyptic movie.

A Cool Sci-fi Thriller

The Movie ARQ:

First things first, it is not entirely accurate to liken ARQ with “only” Groundhog Day. While the latter certainly has a big influence, ARQ also incorporates many elements inspired by Edge of Tomorrow (2014), The Purge (2013), and to some extent Mad Max (1979). The film is directed by Tony Elliot, best known for his work in Orphan Black.

ARQ is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller. Events in the film are set probably at around the same time as the original Mad Max – in the near future where the world has run out of fossil fuels. The couple finds themselves trapped in a room invaded by masked intruders. Renton makes himself a target for creating and stealing perpetual a motion engine designed to run without external input. The device is designed to copy and use its own source code as the output. In other words, the ARQ is meant to have self-replicating programs.

Due to some unexplained mishaps, ARQ turns out to be a time loop machine because it wants to keep using the energy from gasoline as an infinite source of power. Also, the time loop only affects a small area around the engine. Torus Corporation and the rival organization known as the Bloc are aware of the ARQ capabilities, and so they target Renton to get their hands on the machine. As the intrusion is taking place, the time loop commences.

Small Cast Is Plenty

The Movie ARQ:

Since everything happens in a time loop, the film calls for repetitive dialogues between the same characters. Being repetitive doesn’t always mean the same exchanges word for word each time. As the film progresses, the characters are aware of the time loop, and they try to change their fate in every next repetition of events. While every new scene always involves the same people in the same room as before, the realization triggers plot twists and brings new perspectives. The cast is small, but enough to deliver nearly 90 minutes of thrilling fun.

Viewer Involvement

The Movie ARQ:

The repetitive nature of the time loop brings another good purpose: viewer involvement. At the beginning of every time loop, viewers become more invested in Renton’s course of actions. As the audience inadvertently pictures how Renton can improve his chances of survival, the intruders also refine their decisions to gain the upper hand. Renton always loses the battle, and the frustration gradually shifts his focus. He wants to keep the machine, but the priority is to re-establish the relationship with his former lover.

The Negative Review

The Movie ARQ:

The film receives mixed reviews from critics. One of the most heavily criticized aspects is the overly claustrophobic scenario in the midsection. Renton’s change of priority also fails to capitalize the end-of-the-world stake, rendering him unable to focus on a much bigger issue at hand. In a post-apocalyptic movie, such an attitude is expected and should come naturally from the protagonist. As a result, the ARQ seems relegated to a secondary matter for too long before it becomes the focal point again approaching the end. 

In Defense of ARQ

The minimum lighting and predominantly gray palette might come across as a sign of mundanity, but there is no denying that the resulting dreadfulness produces an appropriate tone for the film. The “fight, die, and repeat” method appears bright in Edge of Tomorrow, and there is little reason why it cannot work well within ARQ’s minimalist setting. 

Intriguing Fine Details

Some important off-screen details to remember:

·      The world suffers from a severe energy crisis

·      Australia has collapsed

·      Torus Corporation doesn’t care if everyone in the world suffers as long as it makes profit. The corporation’s biggest hurdle is a rebel group called the Bloc.

·      The war between the two organizations happens at multiple fronts all around the planet.

·      The atmosphere is dirty. No one should go outside without wearing air filtration mask.

·      The time loop starts at 6:11:06:03 and ends at 09:25:21:09

·      ARQ resets after every nine time loops.

From time loop 2 to 9, everyone affected can remember some details about the previous repetition and make changes to the course of events that follows. After loop number nine, ARQ resets and wipes the memories. Approaching the end of the film, Renton and Hannah realize they are on the ninth loop. They leave messages to themselves to help remember the previous events even after the reset.


According to Tony Elliot himself, ARQ is an attempt to depict the optimism in life. When people fail at something, they tend to try again multiple times before succeeding or giving up. In most cases, they wish they have more time to get the job done. It is also a simple definition of madness; one cannot try the same experiment without changing anything and expect different result.

ARQ was 90 minutes of fighting and fun! 

Being caught in a time loop seems like a real downer to everyone involved and we are certainly glad we’re not repeating ourselves over and over for eternity… 

Being caught in a time loop seems like a real downer to everyone involved and we are certainly glad we’re not repeating ourselves over and over for eternity… 

Being caught in a time loop seems like a real downer to everyone involved and we are certainly glad we’re not repeating ourselves over and over for eternity…

Ha! What do you think of ARQ? Did you like it? Were you bored to tears? Were you win the edge of your seat?

Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

If you liked this, then check out Everything and More You Wanted to Know About the Movie, I Am Mother

Other things you might want to know about.

What are some other movies that are in a time loop?

According to here are 14 cool time loop movies that are ranked according to IMDb. 

  1. Christmas Every Day (1996) – 6.4
  2. Before I Fall (2017) – 6.5
  3. The Endless (2017) – 6.5
  4. The Final Girls (2015) – 6.6
  5. Happy Death Day (2017) – 6.7
  6. Boss Level (2021) – 6.9
  7. Triangle (2009) – 6.9
  8. Primer (2004) – 6.9
  9. Timecrimes (2007) – 7.2
  10. Palm Springs (2020) – 7.4
  11. Looper (2012) – 7.4
  12. Predestination (2014) – 7.5
  13. Source Code (2011) – 7.5
  14. Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – 7.9
  15. Groundhog Day (1993) – 8.0

Go to to read more about each of these time loop movies. It was written by Justin Van Voorhis.

What is a time loop film?

According to a time loop is a fictional plot device that causes characters in a story to ‘re-experience a span of time which is repeated, sometimes more than once, with some hope of breaking out of the cycle of repetition.’ Probably the most famous time loop movie is Groundhog Day. Some other movies that have time loops are Doctor Strange, Happy Death Day, Edge of Tomorrow, and Mirror for a Hero. 

There are also time loops in sci-fi literary fiction with one of the earliest being Doubled and Redoubled which was written in 1941 as a short story by Malcolm Jameson. Other works include The Girl who Leapt Through Time, Kimagure Orange Road, and YU-NO.

Go to to read more about The Ins and Outs and Ins and Outs of creating a time loop film by Jourdan Aldredge.

What are the best time-loop dramas to watch again and again and again?

According to here is a list of ten of the greatest time loop movies. 

  1. The Lazarus Project (2022)
  2. I May Destroy You (2020)
  3. Russian Doll (2019)
  4. Looper (2012)
  5. Tenet (2020)
  6. Source Code (2011)
  7. The Endless (2017)
  8. Palm Strings (2020)
  9. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
  10. Groundhog Day (1993)

Go to read more about each of these films written by Stuart McGurk and Olivia Pym.