Time loop is a much repeated plot device, especially in Hollywood movies. But if made into a tightly structured, no/minimum plot holes movie, there is nothing more stimulating to the intellect. By time loop movies, I mean the ones in which events that happens in a particular time frame repeat continously.
I don't consider time travel movies like Time Cop where someone lands in past or future and alter the present, though such movies too eventually have to deal with the puzzle of looping time. You will get my point if you recall Terminator movie franchise as a whole. So that puts brilliant movies like Predestination, Looper and not-so-brilliant ones like Time Cop (it's bad-ass, not brilliant) outside our scope.
In time loop movies, most of the time, atleast one character gets aware of this phenomenon and learns to adjust his behaviour and use it to his/her/their advantage. Such movies use time loops as a plot device.
There is another category of movies in which time loop is introduced as just a narrative device. Here, the looping of time doesn't happen in actual. Sometimes the makers try to show different point of views by repeating the events.
One movie that comes to mind is Vantage Point where an assassination attempt on the US President is shown from the POV of different characters. Each loop introduce us to some new facts that adds on to our understanding of the plot.
Sometimes the makers try to visualise how a minor happening can alter the outcome greatly. German movie Run Lola Run directed by Tom Tykwer is one such brilliant gem of a movie. In this film, a girl has 20 minutes to get some cash to save her boyfriend. Three scenarios are enacted where Lola runs to arrange cash and all three has drastically varied results due to slight variations in her behaviour. The director leaves certain ambiguity as to whether she is aware of the situation.
Now if we check out the movies where protagonist(s) are aware of time loop, the choices are great. We have Source Code, a science fiction thriller starring Jake Gyllenhall, who has to solve a terror plot by living the last 8 minutes of the attack continuously till he makes a breakthrough. And he has to do it by occupying the body of a stranger.
Groundhog Day starring the effervescent Bill Murray as an arrogant weather reporter who is forced to cover an event that he despises is the first blockbuster featuring time loop concept. In this feel-good comedy, the protagonist has to relive countless times the Groundhog Day, a yearly tradition in a small town. It's a hilarious movie.
In the summer blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise learns to fight dangerous aliens by living and dying in a loop.
Most of the movies that I covered here uses huge budget, elaborate sets and sophisticated special effects to help with the narration. But ARQ, this new movie that I watched last day ingeniously puts itself forward using minimum budget, just handful of characters and a rundown garage as it's set.
In a world were all energy sources are depleted, an engineer invents a perpetual motion machine which triggers a time loop. He wakes up from a dream to see his long-gone girlfriend by his side and four invaders soon turns up. He is killed and wake up again remembering the previous episode. Now each time he tries to unknot the puzzle, he gets killed only to wake up again.
What makes ARQ stand out is the number of twists that the makers introduce in each segment. Every guess work and every expectation of viewers are thwarted systematically when the motives and back stories of each characters are revealed one by one.
Are there any other movies you feel that I missed? Are there any Indian movies that feature time loop? Feel free to comment.