I like these Alien encounter movies, one of my favorite movies ever is ‘Contact’, the Jodie Foster led 1997 Blockbuster from the book by the great Carl Sagan. Arrival lives up to those standards. Louise (Amy Adams) is an expert Linguist living a life of a college professor when the military come calling; Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) needs her language skills when 12 Alien spacecraft land on Earth.
Louise is struggling, her life is in somewhat of a downward spiral, there’s divorce and drama surrounding her daughter and now she’s about to be whisked off by helicopter to meet extraterrestrials. All this is set against the backdrop of civilization falling apart with financial markets plummeting and civil unrest as the public feel they’re about to be obliterated by ‘gamma rays’.
Ian (Jeremy Renner) is a physicist who is part of the team put together by the Military to converse with the Aliens, his role is Science and mathematics. It’s a delicate balancing act trying to draw answers from an Alien species who Colonel Weber and CIA agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg) are convinced want to destroy Earth.
The first encounter and tense build up that Louise has with the Aliens is fantastic. You can thank director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Incendies) for that, who has done a wonderful job here in building the scenes and mixing in flashbacks that Louise has to build on the story. The line is blurred by who exactly are the boogeymen here, the Aliens or China and Russia who are dealing with their own spacecraft landing in their backyards. The US Government wants to keep what they’ve learned but is that in tune with the greater good?
There is a political tinge here as certain members of the nervous and weapon happy Military are ‘far right’ in their thinking, driven by an unhinged radio announcer who I’m sure is meant to be Rush Limbaugh, but that’s a small part of a broader story about making a connection and coming together.
Renner and Whitaker are great here, as they always are but the star is Adams, who does a fine job in conveying the struggle and strength that Louise displays. Arrival is thought provoking, exciting, sad and suspenseful. It will make you think and in fact may leave you a little confused, but it’s worth it in the long run.
hallymustang rating : 4.5/5