Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 25
  2. Negative: 2 out of 25
Watch On
  1. 100
    Primer unites physics and metaphysics in an ingenious guerrilla reinvention of cinematic science fiction.
  2. Consider Primer a successful lab experiment with, as they might say in techie chat rooms, significant indie-cred applications, IMHO. Oh, and :-).
  3. 90
    A half-baked conspiracy subplot in the last third makes Carruth's knotty narrative even harder to follow, but this is still scary, puzzling, and different.
  4. 88
    It is maddening, fascinating and completely successful.
  5. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    88
    Refusing to dumb down for a mass market, Primer is "Mullholland Dr." for math geeks, "Memento" for mad geniuses, or simply one of the most inventive films ever made for pennies on the Hollywood dollar.
  6. An ingenious blend of sci-fi and mystery.
  7. 80
    A brainteaser of the first order, Primer ranks among the best of recent thrillers such as "Memento" or "The Matrix," which rupture the fabric of reality and radically destabilize the narrative in kind.
  8. 80
    A dense and dazzling science-fiction mind-bender unassumingly dressed up in a tech geek’s short-sleeved oxford shirt, pocket protector and safety goggles.
  9. It's hard to always know what Primer is saying or where it's heading, but it looks fantastic while it unfolds and you won't be able to forget what you've witnessed.
  10. The movie may be too precious for mass consumption, but its filmmakers' willingness to assume the best of their audience, combined with its Everyman origins, suggest a movie that deserves a chance.
  11. 75
    Primer is obviously not for all tastes, but if it connects with you, prepare to be obsessed.
  12. The screenplay is convoluted but fascinating, flawed less by its built-in complexity than by the limitations of the characters' psychological depth.
  13. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    75
    Shane Carruth's extraordinary work of shoestring speculation throws you into a deep ocean of techno-jargon and lets you dog-paddle or sink like a stone.
  14. Reviewed by: Carina Chocano
    70
    Frustrating as I ultimately found it, Primer is undeniably geek heaven. For everyone else, it's a nice antidote to big-budget bogusness.
  15. Reviewed by: Robert Dominguez
    63
    One of those purposely head-scratching films meant to be viewed more than once. The extra ticket sales should easily cover Carruth's initial $7,000 budget.
  16. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    60
    It's a puzzle as much as a plot, but when it's in focus (which it isn't for long stretches) it's remarkable brain-food.
  17. At a certain point, Mr. Carruth's fondness for complexity and indirection crosses the line between ambiguity and opacity, but I hasten to add that my bafflement is colored by admiration.
  18. May be too clever for its own good. Essentially, it's the story of weekend scientists who build a time machine in a suburban garage. But this nearly gets lost in a miasma of technical jargon and scientific conjecture.
  19. Love it or hate it, you won't be able to leave it alone.
  20. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    50
    A fascinatingly obtuse puzzle box that manages to be gripping even after it stops making sense.
  21. Reviewed by: Neva Chonin
    50
    Doesn't always work, but it challenges, nonetheless.
  22. Every frame of the way, it's eminently clear that Primer is the work of an engineer, not a film- maker.
  23. 40
    Inspires plenty of head scratching and maybe a little irritation.
  24. As Primer progresses, it just gets murkier and the experience of it more drudgelike.
  25. 25
    A real head-scratcher that somehow won the grand jury prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 107 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 43
  2. Negative: 7 out of 43
  1. Aug 27, 2010
    10
    A minor miracle of a film, this movie manages to pull off everything a major motion picture should have (great scripting, amazing acting,A minor miracle of a film, this movie manages to pull off everything a major motion picture should have (great scripting, amazing acting, drama, etc.) with a mere budget of ~$7,000. It's simultaneously captivating, confusing, frustrating, and in the end, completely gratifying - even if you can't put all the pieces together on the first viewing. I already can't wait to watch it again. Full Review »
  2. May 18, 2013
    7
    An independent film full of nice ideas but maybe without the budget to fully realise some of their potential. Nicely scripted, although I didAn independent film full of nice ideas but maybe without the budget to fully realise some of their potential. Nicely scripted, although I did find it a little too ‘wordy’ in places. Performance wise; both Shane Carruth and David Sullivan did an excellent job. The film hangs on these two characters and I thought they both pulled it off to an excellent standard! I found the film quite absorbing at first; there’s enough mystery there and I know enough about engineering for it to keep my interest. It did, however, become a little wearing towards the end, I think because the film relies so much on the dialogue between Aaron and Abe to tell the story and there is so much to take in that I found I was in ‘dialogue overload’ by the end. I think I’ll probably have to watch it again sometime to fully appreciate it, but well worth a look; it’s an interesting take on the time travel theme.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 7.1/10
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 6, 2015
    9
    I have no clue what I just watched, but it was breathtaking. Two guys accidentally build a time machine, unaware that they might have alreadyI have no clue what I just watched, but it was breathtaking. Two guys accidentally build a time machine, unaware that they might have already gone inside of it... that's all you need to know. Now go watch this masterpiece. Full Review »