Eternal Return – Hurok (2016) Review
Score 67%Score 67%
“Hurok”, also known internationally as Loop, is a Hungarian crime thriller film with central science-fiction elements which is available on Netflix.
Isti Madarász’s direction and writing revolve around quite a unique idea in manifestation, but the narrative itself, as well as the direction, may not provide such an idea to the originality it deserves.
It’s as if “Heavy Rain” had a film counterpart, with excellent underlying ideas, but a relatively more lacking representation of them, though at least “Heavy Rain” had at least a distinctive aesthetic and music to pull the emotional strings of the story.
While “Hurok” does attempt to be a stand-out time travel film, it doesn’t really succeed in its pursuit by suffering from some of the common science fiction and time travel film tropes. Even the relatively interesting and authentic plot adds nothing very fascinating or new to the genre as old as time itself and with the conventional aspects of the direction and screenwriting.
So, without further ado, let’s get to analyzing “Hurok”’s plot, characters, visuals, etc. in-depth to weigh its pros and cons.
Story, Setting, and Characters:
Dénes Száraz ordinarily, yet compatibly plays the drug dealer Adam, who intends to double-cross his psychotic employer Dezső (Anger Zsolt) – whose portrayal of the character is almost as monotonous as Kenneth Branagh’s character in “Tenet” (2020).
He plans to escape the country alongside his coworker and girlfriend Anna (Dorina Martinovics) with 200 illegally harvested vials of growth hormones, hoping for a future that is secure from the perils of the drug scene.
And albeit many more complexities are set to follow their lives, Anna’s pregnancy causes a delaying change of plans, and during this phase of a pause without alternatives, Dezső figures out what has escalated between Adam and Anna, and hopes to punish the two.
Not that there is an inherent need for all unique stories to consist of subplots that are all reminiscent of the uniqueness, but this is quite a concrete plot and one that uncompromisingly falls for some of the common tropes of science fiction and thriller blockbusters alike. The viewer is less likely to connect with the characters’ emotional journey due to how commonly explored this narrative has always been.
After quite a number of minutes in the film, the time travel storyline finally incepts. The aspect that in fact what “Hurok” worth watching in the first place. Now while it does make the film mildly interesting, it regardless isn’t without its own flaws. One of the things that have made time travel and time loop stories quintessentially interesting is the mechanism or the device that governs the disorder of time itself.
Be it the Flash running faster than the speed of light in Zack Snyder’s “Justice League”, dying in “Edge of Tomorrow”, or transferring your consciousness back to the past via a headphone-like device as seen in “Steins;Gate”.
“Hurok” on the other end has neither a regulated mechanism that governs the time traveling, and makes the working of all the paradoxes a mystery for both; Adam and the audience to solve by themselves, which makes for probably the most engaging element of the entire film.
Films involving time loop storylines have even been great blockbusters in the past if handled with nuance. A good example of this would be “Edge of Tomorrow”, in which the action and the science fiction elements advance symmetrically. With “Hurok”, it feels as if they’re separate aspects that one must divide their attention into, which compromises the combination itself. It’s like watching two separate movies at once episodically.
Cinematography, Music, etc.:
While it may feel visually repetitive due to the cinematography and color palettes not supporting the tonal shift enough, it’s quite nicely shot, and good to look at. Another technical side of “Hurok” to commend is its editing, though due to how dependent films of this sort are on the editing, it had to be more than just functional.
Besides the lack of flexibility among the still aesthetic visuals of the film, the technical aspect that weakens the film is its unfitting music, which, like the film, can’t decide if it wants to be science fiction or action.
Regardless of its technical shortcomings, clean editing, as well as András Nagy’s quality cinematography add to the pros of “Hurok”.
Summary While Hurok may bug itself with genre inconsistencies and may rely on common character tropes, it’s still a relatively unique experience, thanks to its nuanced and mysterious take on the time travel genre. And despite the music being a disservice to it, the film is beautiful to look at and edited nicely enough for all of its time loops to make sense.