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
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 99 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 42
  2. Negative: 7 out of 42
  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. Dec 14, 2014
    10
    One of the best movies I've ever seen. A good time travel film free of the rubbish Hollywood normally injects into a film to try and draw inOne of the best movies I've ever seen. A good time travel film free of the rubbish Hollywood normally injects into a film to try and draw in audiences. Full Review »
  3. Nov 15, 2014
    9
    If you are trying to absorb this film in the same fashion that you would a box office topping flick, you will be lost, and disappointed at theIf you are trying to absorb this film in the same fashion that you would a box office topping flick, you will be lost, and disappointed at the end. This plot does no "hand holding" and is as ambiguous as it is hard to follow in the first place. However, in its over-complexities, a light of genius shines in its ability to be an experience rather than a casual, two hour suspension from reality. This indie thought provoking piece will grab your college degree and break it in half. While usually being thrown in with an "Inception" this film creates no basis of time or space to go off of. You control you're own interpretation of this film. People make charts and graphs on this movie just to understand what is happening and when. Truly a mentally challenging experience that is as strange as it is intriguing. Full Review »