Premonition (2007) / Thriller-Fantasy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for some violent content, disturbing images, thematic material and brief language
Running Time: 110 min.
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Nia Long, Kate Nelligan, Peter Stormare, Shyann McClure, Courtney Taylor Burness, Amber Valletta, Mark Macaulay, Jude Ciccolella
Director: Memnan Yapo
Screenplay: Bill Kelly
Review published March 18, 2007
Although Premonition does feature a couple of similarities to a release that came out from Japan just a couple of years before, Yogen, it's not a remake as a couple of sources I've read are claiming. True, they both are titled Premonition in their English releases, and feature protagonists who have the knowledge about a fated death that they try to stop. Coincidentally, they both also start with an accident involving a loved one who dies from getting hit by an out-of-control semi. However, practically everything else that occurs is wholly separate, as this newer release is two parts gimmicky thriller and one part spiritual awakening, with no parts ever hitting a stride to lift it out of mediocrity.
Sandra Bullock (Crash, Miss Congeniality 2) stars as Linda Hanson, who lives with her successful husband and two lovely daughters in a house that they own. Things seem to be going quite well until she gets a fateful knock on the door from the local sheriff telling her that her husband Jim (McMahon, Fantastic Four) died the day before in a car accident. It's a traumatic day that is short-lived, as when she awakens the next day, she finds Jim still alive. She dismisses it all as just a nightmare until she awakens again to discover herself a few days in the future, with Jim dead again. Knowing that she is bouncing around, Linda determines to try to figure out a way to keep her wits and perhaps prevent the fatal calamity from occurring, but with such a wild series of unlikely circumstances, no one will ever believe her.
If Premonition succeeds in keeping our interest, it's because of the twisty nature of the plot, which at least has us wondering if the events that have been said to occur actually will. Given that Linda never makes a concerted effort to actually do something different until the very last day, perhaps it may not surprise anyone who has seen his share of these sorts of temporal thrillers with an overriding theme on tricking fate as to how it will ultimately play out.
It is something we've seen before too many times, with the only new gimmick being that Linda can't actually see the future except that she lives her days during the course of one eventful week out of order. For her, the week occurs out of continuity, bouncing forward and back while still retaining memories that register to her in completely linear fashion. Since Linda is the main character, we are also in the dark right along with her, although it's interesting that everything that happens pre-Jim's accident does eventually occur as planned, while everything post can only (presumably) be an alternate reality.
Although there is an attempt to tie in the film into some sort of spiritual mumbo-jumbo regarding faith and fulfillment, the crux of Premonition is to entertain us as a teaser thriller that divulges things as needed in order to keep us reeled in as to how events will eventually play out. It does find an interesting wrinkle by suggesting that Linda's remorse over knowing that her husband is slated to die causes her to uncover feelings that had been dormant due to a staleness in their marriage. While it does spark a bit of latter half interest, the characters aren't drawn with a romance in mind, and though Bullock does pull off a performance that suggests that her husband's potential death is something she desperately doesn't want to happen, the climax of the film still rings hollow, as we never see Jim as anything other than an essential plot device from which everything else spins off of.
Unlike Groundhog Day, which has a main character actively trying to do everything he can to affect a certain outcome, or to make sure that one doesn't happen, the frustration of Premonition comes from knowing that a person who would actually be stuck in such a situation would do everything possible not to replicate a single thing that is to occur. Linda knows that she met a doctor (Stormare, Constantine) that prescribed lithium to overcome her emotional condition, and yet she still goes to see him. She knows that she is to meet her husband's would-be mistress on a certain day, and doesn't do everything she can to stop it from occurring. Even the simple act of throwing a wadded-up, torn page out of a phone book in the waste can is replicated. Perhaps it would have been a more interesting angle for Linda to subconsciously want her husband to die, which would explain why she would allow herself to make sure every event she knows to happen actually does.
At this stage in Sandra Bullock's career, it's difficult to watch someone with the potential to do so much more squander her girl-next-door appeal in ridiculous, unappealing b-movie plots. It's the second temporally-askew film in a row for her, after The Lake House, where she also happened to exist in the past and future of a lover that is slated to die. I wish that Bullock would actually have the ability to foresee future events, as it might be the only chance she has to save her career from the downward spiral that it seems to be stuck in. Like the characters she plays in these gimmick-laden thrillers, Sandra too exhibits few signs of proactively stopping herself from a following the path of certain catastrophe.
©2007 Vince Leo