Let’s be honest here: I haven’t met a single individual yet who either wouldn’t want to travel back in time to correct a few wrongs, or to have a glimpse of what their future holds for them. That coupled with the inevitability of it all, the very real nature of time being irreversible and its independent physical construct is what I think allures the human mind to the concept of time travel so much, because what greater pursuit than one that is with the current means, unattainable? However, that didn’t stop a few dreamers from dreaming of it. Literature and films have been telling stories involving time travel since as far as I can imagine, and due to the very reasons specified above, the audience just can’t seem to have enough, so much so that time travel movies can clearly be identified into a sub-genre of their own.
But sadly enough, Netflix’s library has currently omitted a number of time travel classics and fairly obviously definitive films from their library, including the ‘Back to the Future Movies’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ that popularised the sub-genre in the first place, and current modern classics like ‘Looper’ and ‘Predestination’ among others, and that is with respect to the current streaming scenario fast changing. However, we did a little digging and found some of the finest movies involving time travel and resultant time loops as a relevant plot point for you to watch. So, here’s the list of really good time travel movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now.
8. ARQ (2016)
I honestly didn’t expect ARQ to blow me away the way it did. The film is about an engineer who is able to develop a perpetual motion machine that in turn leads to him experiencing a home invasion scenario again and again, stuck in a time loop. At less than 90 minutes, ‘ARQ’ is taut, relentless and doesn’t let your attention waver for a second. It is not a perfect film by any means. In fact, it has quite a number of flaws and discontinuities that stringent viewers might not be able to wrap their heads around. However, if you know what you are getting into: a small film with a few characters, virtually no location to boast of except a room inside a home, and a timeline spanning only a few hours, but telling an interesting and entertaining story, you may come off completely surprised, like I did.
7. Looper (2012)
Starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, and Paul Dano, ‘Looper’ is a science fiction action-thriller film written and directed by Rian Johnson. The movie is set in the near future, where time travel has not only become a reality but is used extensively in the black market by mobsters for their twisted goals. Putting the illegal technology to good use, the criminals sent back their targets in the past where hired guns called Loopers were waiting to execute them.
Joe is one of the many killers used by mobs who have become immensely rich by indulging in illegal activity, but his life takes an unexpected turn when the mob not only decides to close the loop but also have Joe killed. The action-packed drama that unfolds captures Joe’s high-stakes attempt to survive while the mob relentlessly tries to hunt him down.
6. Long Story Short (2021)
Directed, written, and co-produced by Josh Lawson, ‘Long Story Short’ is a romantic drama film. The Rafe Spall and Zahra Newman-starrer follow Teddy, a young woman who accidentally ends up kissing Leanne on new year’s eve after mistaking her for his then-girlfriend. As she has peanuts in her mouth at the moment, he goes into an anaphylactic shock and has to be saved by Leanne’s presence of mind. A few years later, the duo not only fell madly in love with each other but also got married.
However, things take a surprising turn when the morning after the marriage, Teddy realizes that he is jumping one year into the future every few minutes. As his life begins to fall apart, he must find a way out of the cruel time anomaly before he loses everything and everyone.
5. Synchronic (2019)
Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, ‘Synchronic’ is a science fiction horror film. The Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan-starrer follow Dennis and Steve, two paramedics working in New Orleans, Louisiana. Although their job requires them to spend a lot of time in dangerous conditions, nothing could have prepared them for a series of strange deaths, all of which are linked to a designer drug named Synchronic.
As they investigate further, Steve and Dennis learn the otherworld effects of the drug, which even alters people’s perception of time. Before they could put things into perspective and solve the mystery behind Synchronic, their personal and professional lives begin to fall apart, forcing them to act before it’s too late.
4. In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)
Jim Mickle’s ‘In the Shadow of the Moon’ is a science fiction thriller film that features stand-out performances by Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, and Michael C. Hall. The movie centers upon Police officer Thomas Lockhart, who, along with his fellow detectives, comes across a series of murders that appear to be connected with each other. As he investigates further and finally corners the suspect, it turns out that she somehow knows the future and even predicts her own death.
Although the case is closed after that, the strange murders begin to occur again several years later but are initially thought to be committed by a copycat. However, as Lockhart comes closer to the truth, his personal and professional life begins to fall apart.
3. Mirage (2018)
I don’t think a better title for the film would have sufficed, even if it’s translated. The film deals with a similar idea that is undertaken by ‘The Butterfly Effect’ and ‘Mr. Nobody’, of small happenings in time snowballing into completely different parallel realities. ‘Mirage’ is the story of one such woman who wakes up one day with her life and reality completely altered and her daughter, not existing in the current sequence of events. This strange happening seems to be connected to another eerie set of events from 25 years ago, linked to the house she recently moved in. I won’t spoil much for you, but hear me when I say that ‘Mirage’ may just be among the year’s best thrillers and sci-fi films. To add to the already twisted narrative, how the woman finds her way out of the time continuum is truly mind bending stuff. Watch for yourself.
2. The Adam Project (2022)
‘The Adam Project’ is a science fiction adventure film that features powerful performances by talented actors such as Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, and Walker Scobell. The Shawn Levy directorial centers upon the distraught fighter pilot Adam Reed in a dystopian 2050, who embarks on a perilous mission to save his wife, Laura, after stealing a time jet. Although he planned to go in the year 2018, because of an accident in which he injured himself, Adam ended up in 2022 instead. There he meets his 12-year-old self, and the two of them join hands to save the future, all the while trying to rescue Laura before it’s too late.
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1. See You Yesterday (2019)
Inspired by Stefon Bristol’s short film of the same name, ‘See You Yesterday’ is a science fiction film produced by Spike Lee. The movie follows two young science prodigies who are obsessed with their invention that enables time travel and opens up prospects for era-defining changes that could not have been previously imagined. However, their lives take an unexpected turn when one of them loses their brother, and the two vow to use their unfinished invention to go back in time and save him.
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