Primer is the thinking man's Bill and Ted
Buy Primer at Amazon
Two friends invent something that will change their lives forever.
Okay, so I'll preface this by saying that, as much as I enjoy this movie, I recognize that not everyone will.
There's a fair amount of stuff here that can confuse you. It took me a few times through before I finally made sense of it all. That first time through I just knew I liked it well enough to want to see it again to understand it better. So on that level, I'd definitely say that this movie lends itself to multiple viewings.
The movie follows two engineers named Aaron (Shane Carruth, who also wrote and directed) and Abe (David Sullivan). They're developing something in Aaron's garage, but it ends up with some very unusual side effects. They realize that they can go back in time with their new invention and they begin testing out day trading with a knowledge of the future.
Soon things get out of control and they are left struggling to fix their lives.
Now, that's about as much as I got out of the movie the first time. It took me a few times through just to understand exactly how things had gotten out of control. I just knew something was very wrong.
And that's a big part of what makes the movie so amazing, I think. When Carruth wrote the script, he specifically decided to go for real, scientific jargon in the conversations between Abe and Aaron, rather than some Hollywood oversimplification and glitz. But the part that matters--the part about how the two friends go back in time--is explained well enough because it's something that is completely new to these two, so they simply have to explain it in simple terms. And from that point, the movie does not give us any more information than Abe and Aaron get. When they're confused about what exactly is going on, so are we.
That being said, it's a whole lot of thinking, so be warned. That isn't to say that the only people who won't enjoy this film are those who can't think. Even if you can figure everything out on your first time through, if you were simply looking for a movie that you could pop in and watch without effort, you won't be as fulfilled with this one.
But there's definitely something to be said for that moment when you finally understand the movie. It's like unwrapping a present with your brain. Your hard work pays off and it's quite satisfying.
For me, I give this one 9 / 10.
Primer is rated PG-13 for some language.
More by this Author
Alien is a classic of both monster movies and cinema in general. Since 1979, any serious attempt at making a monster movie must be aware of what went into this Ridley Scott masterpiece.
The Horatio Hornblower movie series is a wonderful adaptation of C.S. Forrester's novels. Here I make a character study to focus on how the film makers brought the character of Archie Kennedy to life.
A simple comparison of two versions of the same story. Everyone has a different idea and approach, but it's up to you to determine which is "better".