ARQ is a 2016 American-Canadian science fiction film directed by Tony Elliott. It was selected to be screened in the Discovery section at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was released on Netflix worldwide on September 16, 2016. Robbie Amell plays an engineer whose invention causes time to loop during a home invasion. He attempts to save his former lover, played by Rachael Taylor, while learning who has targeted him and why.
Renton wakes up beside his former lover, Hannah. Three men break into his bedroom and take him hostage. Renton breaks his neck while escaping and wakes with a start, only for the men to break in once again. He and Hannah are taken to another room and bound to chairs. The leader of the group introduces himself as Father, identifying the others as Sonny and Brother; Cuz died of electrocution after touching a large device, the ARQ, in the room. Father says he represents a rebel group known as the Bloc and demands Renton surrender money, or "scrips", from their rival organization, the Torus Corporation. He gives them several minutes to comply and leaves the room with the others to get food.
Renton explains to Hannah the ARQ is a working perpetual motion machine he designed at Torus. After Torus shut down the project as an impossibility, he stole it. Renton believes the Bloc members to be after the ARQ rather than the scrips, though Hannah urges him to comply with their demands. After freeing himself and Hannah, he is killed while trying to escape. Renton wakes up gasping, only to relive the same scenario. This time, after freeing himself, he asks Hannah to help poison the intruders with cyanide gas. This fails when Hannah reveals herself as allied with them. Renton surrenders the scrips, only to be killed again after Sonny shoots him.
After reviving, Renton questions Hannah about her past. She says she grew to resent Renton after he abandoned her to Torus, who tortured her. Renton says he never gave up looking for her after he escaped. Though he does not trust Hannah, Renton frees her. They work out a deal where they will split the scrips after using the cyanide gas to force Father and his group to stand down. Renton reneges on the deal, demanding that Hannah abandon the Bloc and come with him. She refuses and accidentally shoots Renton during a scuffle. Renton and Hannah wake in bed; this time, both recall the events. When Renton says the ARQ is causing a time loop, Hannah insists he give the technology to the Bloc. Eventually, Sonny reveals himself as a Torus mercenary and kills everyone.
When they wake, Renton and Hannah agree they must keep the ARQ from Torus, though Renton expresses distrust in the Bloc. They convince Father to help them, but Sonny shoots Father and knocks Brother unconscious. After killing Sonny, Renton applies first aid to Father. He dies after Brother shoots him, not realizing Sonny is responsible. The next iteration, Sonny becomes aware of the time loop and immediately kills Father and Brother. Renton theorizes the ARQ is looping the same three-hour period due to running out of energy. Instead of producing unlimited energy, its fuel cells are refilled after every loop. When Sonny overpowers them, Renton sacrifices himself to prevent Sonny from acquiring the ARQ.
In the next iteration, Sonny saves Cuz's life, then kills Father and Brother. Renton and Hannah poison Sonny and Cuz with the cyanide. Before dying, Sonny uses the pool of blood from every other corpse (including Cuz, whom he kills) to set up a trap. After arguing not to destroy the machine, Hannah is electrocuted when she accidentally steps on Sonny's trap. Renton briefly considers destroying the ARQ but allows the next iteration to begin. He admits he was wrong and offers the ARQ to the Bloc. Father, who is now aware of the time loop, and Brother agree to work with Hannah and Renton; however, Sonny and Cuz take all hostage. After Sonny forces Renton to disable the machine, Father and Brother die in the confusion of a blackout. Renton and Hannah briefly escape but return once they realize the time loop is localized to the house.
After they kill Cuz, revealed to be a torturer for Torus, Sonny restarts the ARQ, only to be killed. An interrupted video message and the ARQ's logs reveal a second, outer time loop: every nine time loops form their own loop in which their memories are reset. Unknowingly, they have repeated the same nine loops thousands of times. Realizing they are on their ninth loop, Renton and Hannah leave a desperate message to themselves, hoping future iterations can get the ARQ to the Bloc before Torus' reinforcements arrive. After a robot breaks through and kills them, Hannah wakes with a gasp.Robbie Amell as Renton
Rachael Taylor as Hannah / Mother
Shaun Benson as Sonny
Gray Powell as Grimm / Father
Jacob Neayem as Brother
Adam Butcher as Cuz
Tantoo Cardinal as The Pope
Nicolas Van Burek as News Anchor
Jamie Spilchuk as Mobius Common
The concept dates back to 2008, prior to writer-director Tony Elliot's work on the television series Orphan Black; the show's creators hired him based on his unproduced script. The script had been optioned but remained in development hell for years. After the rights reverted to Elliott, Netflix contacted his producer and offered to produce it. In January 2016, it was announced that Netflix would produce and distribute the film. Mason Novick, John Finemore, Kyle Franke, and Nick Spicer produced the film under their Lost City and XYZ Films banner. That same month, it was announced that Robbie Amell and Rachael Taylor had been cast in the film. Shooting took place in Toronto over 19 days. Elliott quoted the budget at "under $2 million".
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2016. The film was released on September 16, 2016.
John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called it a "tricky little time twister that makes the most of its limited resources", comparing it to Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow in its concept. DeFore wrote that the film throws many new wrinkles into its looping plot, causing viewers to eventually stop trying to predict characters' actions. Of the film's climax, DeFore said, "Amazingly, given how many time-travel pix collapse in a tangle of logic around this point, ARQ knows how to wrap its paradoxes up in a way we can hardly criticize."