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Directed by Shane Carruth
Starring Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden, Anand Upadhyaya, Carrie Crawford
Originally Released: October 8, 2004
Some of the most revolutionary scientific and technological breakthroughs were never deliberately thought out, designed, and planned. In fact, many of the most innovative leaps forward were discovered by accident.
Humanity, forever stumbling in the dark, feeling their way for whatever momentous course changes arise into their lives for the benefit of those in the future… But what if time travel became one of those accidental discoveries? The indie sci-fi flick Primer answers and addresses this.
Four young entrepreneurs, scientists who play more like social media startups than anything else, are working towards solid scientific work and research while on the quest for sufficient funding. At this point in their journey, the two more business minded men, Aaron and Abe, find themselves at odds with their more free-thinking and discovery oriented partners, Robert and Phillip.
While Robert and Phillip look towards other projects for their scientific start-up, Aaron and Abe on the other hand focus on their current projects that they deem to have potential future profitability. The two accidently discover a manner of accessing time travel – into the past only. The discovery escalates their curiosity and exploration, and finds them shifting back into their colleagues’ line of free thinking and (more importantly) risk.
Initially, the pair use analyzing stocks to make financial gain for the company the four of them have started – but soon greed and risk and thrill take over. They cut Robert and Phillip out of any loop on the time travel, and take higher and additional risks with their machine and actions when arriving in the near past. The discovery begins to turn friend against friend, as their manipulation of the time stream promises further dire consequences.
Primer is confusing – but in a good way. For film lovers that enjoy a puzzle and putting the literary picture together, the movie plays as an enigma, generating further questions upon subsequent viewings.
The science is reasonable, particularly in the approach of presentation – with the forefront of the movie being accidental innovations, the scientific basis of numerous concepts in Primer form a solid foundation. The looping effect of time travel plays a very big part in the flick, adding to the confusing nature of the movie.
The performances in Primer, particularly the two leads Shane Carruth and David Sullivan, are thoroughly convincing; further adding realism to the film. The acting is strong, without overuse of techniques, and rather a solid leaning towards allowing the story to take them along the way. As the movie progresses, the pair are able to take on more challenging elements, especially as the moral and ethical quandaries arrive.
Combining the basic plot and the solid acting, allows Carruth (who produced, wrote, and directed the film) to layer a story with considerable depth. Subtexts and representation is used to great advantage – elements of which I am sure I haven’t even caught on yet. Colors and lighting play a massive part in the context and symbolism of the movie, delivering multiple perspectives more willingly than a singular message.
The Sci-Fi factor is deep and hard. There are no laser guns or action or CGI aliens or any of the larger blockbuster turds that float through the box office. Primer is a story with intelligence and essence, with a solid leaning to science fact, and a realism that becomes magnetic to the viewer. It’s a solid movie, through and through, and the re-watching value is fantastic, because you’re bound to miss a great deal the first round.
Primer is definitely worth watching. And watching more than once…. Some may find the concepts lost on them, and I think this is one specifically for the sci-fi geeks, or folks that love to dissect movies over and over again. It’s definitely mind-bending and compelling.
Overall Rating: 4Â½ out of 5