Premonition (2007)

Premonition review (click to see it bigger!)Starring Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Nia Long, Shyann McClure, Courtney Taylor Burness, Kate Nelligan, Peter Stormare, Amber Valletta,

Directed by Mennan Yapo

If you think about it, Sandra Bullock’s career is really amazing. Contemplate for a moment how often you hear people talk about big movie stars they cannot stand and then think about how rarely you ever hear anyone say anything negative about Sandra Bullock. She’s so likable, so adorable, such a girl next door type, always so cheerful; she’s like a human version of Minnie Mouse. Yet she so often stars in crap. But even so, you never hear people talk about how much they can’t stand Sandra Bullock. She just has that amazing star quality – always personable and perpetually cute, even if she is starting to become Dick Clark-like in how she never seems to age.

Seriously, look at her from movies she was in a decade ago, look at her now, and tell me she doesn’t look like she’s barely aged a day. She must have a Dorian Gray thing going on or something.

That’ll probably help her continue to be a bona fide star, one who is rarely the subject of scorn even when the movies she stars in are. And lord knows she’s lucky for that because, as I just stated, she stars in so much crap. Her latest crap is Premonition, easily one of the biggest pieces of crap she’s ever starred in, and I say this as a person that has seen both Speed 2 and The Net.

Premonition is a movie that’s screwed from the get-go because its makers can’t even fall back on the old argument that this is just a popcorn movie that we shouldn’t think about too much in order to pick apart. You can’t argue that the audience shouldn’t switch their brains off, sit back, and enjoy when the whole freaking movie is about putting together a puzzle – a puzzle that demands the audience pay close attention to the details so that we, like Sandra Bullock’s character, can put all the pieces together. Problem is some of the pieces don’t add up, other pieces are missing entirely, and the ultimate puzzle that’s being pieced together is nothing short of idiotic. Not nearly as idiotically implausible as The Number 23, but, as Forrest Gump would say, stupid is as stupid does. All Premonition does is stupid. It’s a lethargically directed, nonsensical piece of pseudo-spiritual claptrap with delusions of being a mind-bending supernatural thriller that only succeeds in aggravating viewers and leaving us feeling cheated.

Sandra Bullock is Linda Hansen, a seemingly happy woman with an idyllic life, married to her husband Jim (metrosexual Dr. Doom himself, Julian McMahon) with two precocious young daughters, Bridgette and Megan. Jim heads off for a business trip on Wednesday, and the next morning a cop appears at the door to inform her that he had been killed in a car accident the day before. The usual melodramatics ensue. The next morning she wakes up and Jim is alive. She spends the whole day wondering if what happened the day before was a premonition of sorts or just a really bad dream. Then the next day after that she wakes up, and not only is Jim dead again, it’s the day of his funeral. Each day after she wakes up to find it’s another day of the week before or after the Wednesday on which he was killed.

Premonition review (click to see it bigger!)Basically, Premonition is sort of a Groundhog’s Day scenario, only it’s more of a groundhog’s week, and instead of reliving the same day over and over, she’s playing out this Sunday-to-Saturday week long scenario, jumping around at random. One day it’s Thursday, the next it’s Monday, then it jumps to Saturday, and so on, building its way back to the Wednesday on which Jim was killed. Stuff happens that carries over from day-to-day – some of which Linda’s clueless about because to her it hasn’t happened yet and other stuff she’s later able to predict because she knows what’s coming. She’s in a constant state of confusion, though Sandra Bullock never plays the role anywhere as confused as we, the audience, are, I assure you. Anytime she begins babbling about the day-to-day time traveling she’s experiencing, nobody believes her or thinks she’s nuts (including the psychiatrist she goes to see) or, in the post-Wednesday days, believes she’s just approaching a mental breakdown due to the stress from Jim’s death. Sometimes even she thinks she’s losing her mind. It all boils down to whether or not she can figure out what is going on and use it to save her husband. Or for that matter, after she finds out that Jim was planning to have an affair with a pretty blonde co-worker, will she even bother to save him?

This is a prime example of what I meant when I said the movie forgets to give us a few pieces of the overall puzzle. It seems the Hansen’s marriage isn’t so happy after all. You’d never have known there was any problem until well into the movie when Jim just out of the blue starts complaining to Linda about how this business trip might do them some good by giving them some time apart. Linda is apparently supposed to be something of a cold fish for reasons I completely missed out on. And not just a cold fish, but also a spiritual and emotional basket case. Linda visits a priest…

Oh, god, the priest scene … This is one for the ages. Did you know if you go to a Catholic priest and tell him about all the time-space anomalies you’re experiencing, his first reaction will be to whip out his Time-Life “Mysteries of the Unknown” edition about premonitions and give you a history lesson on the subject matter? Keep that in mind. And when she asks him why all this is happening to her, the priest gives her one of those great non-denominational “Touched by an Angel” style speeches about the importance of faith without ever mentioning God or Jesus by name, ultimately claiming that he believes that her lack of faith has allowed unknown, possibly demonic forces to take hold of her life. Their conversation leads her to reveal that she hasn’t been to church in ages and that she’s lost not only her faith but all hope in life. All of these revelations about inner emptiness come from completely out of left field without any prior scenes establishing any of it.

And that explanation from the priest about how all this day-to-day skipping and backtracking is happening to Linda because she’s lost her faith is the only explanation the film ever attempts to provide for what’s going on. Granted the movie is probably better off not trying to explain the why, but still… A lack of faith allowing unseen forces to begin manipulating her existence is the best they could offer? Yeah, there’s definitely an evil force at work; a force that screenwriters use when they don’t have enough faith – it’s called deus ex machina. Forget Linda Hansen; we’re the ones getting manipulated.

I never came to understand what exactly led to the trouble in their marriage or why Linda’s supposedly become this empty vessel of a human being that’s causing the rift in their marriage. I think there might have been an explanation that I missed when I had to make a visit to the little boy’s room. When I left, it was Sunday afternoon and they were still estranged. When I returned a few minutes later, it was Sunday night, she was tearfully apologizing to him for whatever, and they proceeded to make love. The Hansens appeared to have saved their marriage in the span of time it took me to go take a piss.

Premonition review (click to see it bigger!)As I said earlier, stupidity is something else Premonition is chock full of. Here are a few samples.

  • Linda, in disbelief that Jim is actually dead, causes a ruckus outside the funeral home as the hearse pulls up with his coffin. She’s hysterically demanding that they open the casket so that she can see him dead with her own two eyes. The woman in charge of the funeral home assures her that’s not a good idea because of how messed up his body was in the crash. Linda won’t listen and continues her hysterics. The hearse drivers begin removing the coffin, which they promptly drop. The coffin lid springs open just enough for Jim’s severed head to pop out and go rolling on the ground. Everyone screams in horror. I tried to figure out if this scene was more tacky, tasteless, or just moronic. I eventually settled on all of the above.
  • Linda wakes up another day to an empty bed and a noise emanating from the bathroom. She pulls back the curtain and finds her husband taking a shower. He looks confused as to why she has a shocked look on her face. Come to think of it, about 75% of Julian McMahon’s performance in this film is him acting confused about his wife’s antics. Now that I really think about it, between Bullock and McMahon and everyone else having to react to Bullock’s antics, confusion is the film’s dominant emotion. Heck, maybe they should have just called the movie Confusion instead? The characters are confused, the screenplay is confused, the audience is confused – everyone and everything about this movie is confused.

    But anyway, that whole scene plays out like a bad recreation of the infamous 1986 “Dallas” cliffhanger where Victoria Principal found Patrick Duffy alive in her shower despite him having been dead for the past season – an all-time worst TV moment that’s been the butt of jokes ever since. This version did not play it as a joke nor did it lead to the revelation that the whole movie was just a dream. Though if it had, it would have been a better explanation than the one we got.

    I also couldn’t help but notice that Jim strangely didn’t seem to have any family whatsoever outside of Linda and the kids. The man dies and never once does anyone make mention of needing to contact his relatives. Linda didn’t seem to have anyone either aside from an aunt and a best friend, still more than Jim who only seemed to have a would-be mistress to grieve for him.

  • Linda wakes up on Saturday to find the face of eldest daughter Bridgette is stitched up from numerous lacerations. Linda freaks out, asking how this happened, but instead of an answer, younger daughter Megan assures both of them that there’s nothing wrong with her face. “She’s a beautiful princess,” says young Megan to end the scene. This scene goes down in a manner almost making you think that Linda is hallucinating it all, but then at the funeral we see the daughter with her face stitched up. That night friends and family call in the guys in the white coats to drag Linda off to the insane asylum, all the while yelling about her potentially being a danger to her daughters, yelling stuff at her like, “What happened to Bridgette’s face? What did you do to Bridgette’s face?” Linda’s only reply is to say that she doesn’t know what happened and the daughters can only be relied on to cry out for their mommy as she’s carted off to the funny farm where she will then be shown in physical restraints to keep her under control.

    Later on in the film, when Linda finally wakes up on Tuesday, we’ll see Bridgette suffer a highly improbable accident that has her running face-first through a glass door. Linda and Megan rush her to the hospital, where after having her face all stitched and crying about possibly being scarred for life, Linda assures Bridgette that she’s a beautiful princess.

    Premonition review (click to see it bigger!)So, uh, in three days since her accident nobody bothered to ask this young girl what the hell happened to her face, not even her own mother, who like all concerned parents that have just found their first-born with a slashed-up face, didn’t feel compelled to press the issue until she got a straight answer? Of course not because you see if anyone had done any of that, then we wouldn’t have gotten the big suspenseful scene where Linda gets dragged off to the insane asylum as everyone yells at her for having potentially gone violently mad and mangled her own daughter’s face.

    To top it off, Bridgette’s face wasn’t even shown slashed up on Wednesday. Yes, the movie works so hard to be tricky it actually managed to outsmart itself.

  • There’s a lot more where that came from, going into it would take a week unto itself. As stupid as the movie is, it’s not even fun stupid, just aggravating stupid. It’s really kind of sad to think that Sandra Bullock actually read this script and thought this crap was worth getting behind. The entire production gives off the vibe of some throwaway thriller that should have been made for the Lifetime Network starring the likes of Jennie Garth or Melissa Gilbert.

    But wait, they saved the ultimate act of stupidity for the end. No way in hell I’m finishing this review without including the exclamation point. I’m going to toss in an extra special spoiler warning for the two or three of you reading right now that might not want to have the ending spoiled. I’d say you have been warned, but really, hasn’t this whole review been warning enough?

    It ultimately turns out that Linda’s own actions chasing Jim down the highway on that Wednesday trying to prevent him from getting killed in the car accident are the very reason he gets killed in the car accident. Well, that and the driver of the 18-wheeler who apparently couldn’t be bothered to put on the brakes sooner to keep from slamming into the vehicle stalled out in the road that he still bothered to blow his horn at from about a quarter-mile away. The whole fiery crash occurs right before her eyes, immediately begging the question: so why did the cop have to come to her house to inform her of her husband’s death if she was at the scene of the accident? Chalk that up as one of those wacky time travel movie paradoxes, I guess.

    But wait, there’s more! The next time we see Linda, she’s waking up again. The kids cheerfully awaken her. Linda, too, seems happy. It becomes clear that some time has passed since Linda’s unfortunate groundhog week that left her a widow. She stands up and it’s revealed that she’s very pregnant. The picture freeze frames on her pregnant belly, and we hear a voiceover of something the priest told her about how each day of life is a miracle unto itself. The end.

    I kid you not – that is how this crapfest ends. Given what an emotional train wreck the woman was during the events of the past week, you’d think she’d be even more so knowing that it was actually her actions that led to her husband dying. But no, she doesn’t even harbor any guilt knowing it was her fault that also claimed the life of the guy driving that 18-wheeler. Nope, she’s just merry pregnant widow – life is beautiful. Her being locked up in a mental hospital and the cops that were starting to wonder if maybe she had something to do with her husband’s death – all forgotten. Every day is a miracle. Have faith. It’s all good. This is some five star bullshit, I tell you what.

    Watching Premonition I constantly felt like closing my eyes and taking a nap, secretly hoping that I too would wake up to find it was actually a few days earlier, preferably the previous Saturday so that I’d be back watching 300 again.

    1 out of 5

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    Jon Condit

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