Linguist Louise Banks lives a solitary life as a professor of language at the local university. Still mourning the death of her daughter she carries on her classes until one day the extraordinary happens. A dozen extraterrestrial spacecrafts arrive to hover over several locations around the world. The government’s priority is to find out who they are and why they are here so a team of experts is being assembled and Louise is asked to head up that team. It’s her job to interpret the language of the visitors so that communication between us and them is possible. There are teams in several countries working on the same goal. As Louise and her team continue to try and unravel the mystery of the alien language, tensions between world powers become strained as military forces seem to be leaning toward taking up arms against the visitors whom have shown no ill intent at all. In fact they haven’t done anything except try to communicate. Louise begins to pick apart their language and a slow process of establishing communication begins, but while this is happening Louise continues to experience bouts of sleeplessness, and when she does sleep she has vivid dreams and flashbacks of her life with her daughter making her almost doubt her sanity. When China threatens a strike on one of the visitor ships, the Government decides to scrap the process and prepare for what they are certain could turn into an all out world war. Can Louise find the key to connecting with the aliens in time to stop what could be a globally cataclysmic event?
Arrival is not your typical aliens come to earth Sci-Fi film. Most Sci-Fi films are very “put on” mired in special effects and heavy in atmosphere. I think most of us have come to expect that. For that reason most films in the genre feel as if you can treat them dismissively: grab a bucket of popcorn and dive in. But that’s NOT this film. Arrival feels genuine from start to finish and should not be dismissed. There is nothing put on here, no Bruckheimer or Spielberg BS, just pure raw human emotion. The performances are grounded and are not as stereotypical as they are usually painted in these types of films. Amy Adams has long proven her grit and sensitivity in the roles that she has played thus far and does not disappoint here. Louise Banks is real and we are there for her through every triumph and heartbreak. Jeremy Renner who plays Ian, the mathematician that works alongside her is a supportive rock and friend in an extraordinarily unusual situation. Forrest Whitaker as the military leader of the unit who while pushing the military agenda is not above weighing a logical, thinking approach to a problem.
As I have previously stated, Arrival is not your typical alien film. Director Denis Villeneuve builds on his sterling work from Prisoners (2013). There is an innate sense of humanity here that engages you and a twist that you will NEVER see coming. Do not hesitate to see this film. Arrival should not be missed.