Just when it looked like Sandra Bullock was getting her stuff together in films like Infamous and Crash she comes down with a bad case of Ashley Judd-itis (AJI, for the uninitiated) and retreats to the formulaic, gimmicky fare that put her on the map in the first place. Her latest vehicle, Premonition, is the kind of movie where you can keep a running count of the films it’s ripping off – but you may need more than two hands.
Bullock plays Linda Hanson, a bored housewife who spends her life dropping the kids off at school, shopping, doing laundry, and staring out the window. Her husband, Jim (McMahon) is a workaholic who spends more time trying to convince his family he actually loves them than having fun with them. As the film opens, Linda is notified by the local sheriff (Macaulay) that her husband has been killed in an auto accident. Devastated, but nevertheless coping, she begins to make funeral arrangements and must tell her children of the tragedy. The next day Linda wakes up to find her husband alive and well, sipping coffee in the kitchen. Linda had a premonition, or so she thinks. As the days go by, Linda soon realizes she is living a week out of order. She must piece together the week’s events to help save her husband’s life.
The core problem with Premonition is that the relationship between Linda and Jim is never convincing. It’s hard to believe these two would ask each other for change, let alone be married and have kids. Linda is relentlessly accusatory regarding Jim’s love of the kids and one key development pretty much lands Jim in a permanent unsympathetic holding cell.
The time line scheme has been done much better (tops in Memento) and here feels like an effort to turn an uninteresting story into a passable one. The initial “what the…?” factor is gone too early, instead opting for a surplus of characters that never goes anywhere. Worst of all is the way in which Bill Kelly’s screenplay haphazardly weaves faith into the narrative as an explanation for Linda’s time-traveling phenomena.
As plodding as it may be, Premonition does contain some involving ideas and does put the viewer in Linda’s shoes. The trailer leads us to believe the film is just about the premonition, but the screenplay digs deeper than I was expecting regarding the inevitability of losing someone and knowing about it days prior.
Bullock’s acting skills have always been suspect and her performance here doesn’t do anything to change that. Looking befuddled most of the time and exhibiting nearly no emotion upon hearing her husband has died; Bullock is stone-faced and understated throughout. Julian McMahon doesn’t fare much better, opting to portray Jim as insincere and unlikable. He and Bullock strike zero chemistry. The supporting performances by Peter Stormare and Amber Valletta bring the project up a notch or two.
Largely pedestrian and containing a mystifying (not in a good way) ending, Premonition is, when you get right down to it, just another toy thriller off the Hollywood factory line. Let’s hope her earnings here will land Bullock in better roles in better films, but that’s hardly ever a winning symptom of Ashley Judd-itis.
Length: 110 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for some violent content, disturbing images, thematic material and brief language.
Theatrical Release: March 16, 2007
Directed by: Mennan Yapo
Written by: Bill Kelly
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Shyann McClure, Courtney Taylor Burness, Nia Long, Marc Macaulay