Premonition Review

Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock) is a housewife and the mother of two little girls. She loves her family but lately she's been feeling more and more distant from her husband, Jim (Julian McMahon). That doesn't mean she isn't devastated when she learns he's been killed in a car accident while on a business trip. Grief-stricken, she's put to bed that night by her mother (Kate Nelligan) and her best friend (Nia Long). But when she wakes up the next morning, she's in for an even bigger shock - Jim is alive and everyone is acting as if nothing has happened.

This is probably as much as you should know going in to Premonition. Whoever put together the movie's trailer doesn't agree though. The trailer helpfully explains exactly what is happening to Linda and for good measure it also gives away the rest of the plot. I've seen films ruined by their trailers before - What Lies Beneath's gave away the identity of the ghost, thus making the entire first hour redundant, while The Recruit's told you who was the surprise villain - but Premonition's sets a new benchmark. It should open with a big, flashing message reading, "SPOILERS!"

Not that they're spoiling much. Even if I'd known nothing about the plot, I don't think Premonition would have done a great deal more for me. This is one of the flimsiest films I've ever seen. It really is all there in the trailer. This is a concept for a movie that hasn't been developed into a movie. Confused and half-formed, it drifts by without ever fully engaging the viewer.

The marketing people are selling Premonition as a thriller with a sci-fi twist like The Forgotten but it isn't really a thriller. There are certainly very few thrills. Most of the time, the movie doesn't seem sure what it is. I think we're ultimately supposed to take it as a parable advising us to appreciate what we have while we still have it. The trouble is, the film's too silly to accept on any serious level yet it's too grim and self-important to enjoy as entertainment. I remember writing something similar a few years ago about The Butterfly Effect - a film that may come to mind when you're watching this - but The Butterfly Effect did at least get you involved.

Premonition never hooks you and partly that's down to its star, Sandra Bullock. She can be one of the most likeable actresses in Hollywood but here she dials down her charm almost completely and plays Linda as glum and distressed from the very first scene. Some actresses can do that and still win your sympathy - Jodie Foster in Flightplan, Julianne Moore in The Forgotten. Bullock can't. Writer Bill Kelly and director Mennan Yapo must also take their share of the blame - there are no scenes establishing Linda as someone we should care about.

The ending is astonishingly bad. The one aspect of the story that keeps you semi-interested is wondering how they'll resolve it. When you find out, you'll wish you hadn't wondered. The explanation, delivered by Jude Cicolella (24's Mick Novick) as a rather off-message Catholic priest, is simply bizarre and the plot's resolution feels like a cheap trick on the audience. I was grateful in a way that I hadn't been wrapped up in the story. If I had cared, I think I'd have thrown something at the screen.

If you do see this film, look out for the whopping continuity mistake involving the eldest daughter's facial scars. Keep an eye on which days she has the scars and which days they're not there. This is such a glaring oversight, I thought there would be some twist that explained it away but no, apparently they just screwed up. Still, if nothing else, it helped keep me awake.



out of 10

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