Twelve mysterious extraterrestrial spacecraft touch down across Earth, nicknamed “Shells” by the U.S. military. Their purpose in arriving, as well as whether there is logic behind the specific landing sites, is unclear. Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is selected to lead a special team created to enter one of the Shells which touched down in Montana, due to her skills in translation and pre-existing Top Secret security clearance. Also in the team are theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). Louise is haunted by memories of her deceased daughter, with each memory serving a purpose in helping her decode the aliens’ language.