1 hour, 50 minutes
AP Photo/TriStar Pictures/Ron Ba
I wonder what it must be like to be an “A-List” movie star, after that star has begun to fade. One minute, you’ve got all of America at your feet. You can do no wrong, and then, no one cares. It’s kind of sad, and despite the fact that even the lowliest Hollywood starlet makes more money a week than I do in a year, I feel bad for them. Well, not all of them -- but I do feel bad for Sandra Bullock, who is slowly but surely transitioning from box-office gold to something nearer the pewter end of the scale. Witness, for example, the spectacular critical failure that is her latest, “Premonition.”
Actually, I have not been nearly as harsh in my judgement of this film as have been my fellows on the critics’ scene. It was actually pretty enjoyable, albeit in a movie-of-the-week kind of way. That is, until the end, which was insulting at best. Bullock plays Linda Hanson, an affable soccer mom entering the doldrums of a marriage with affable but distant husband, Jim, played by “Nip/Tuck’s” Julian McMahon. (I’ve never actually seen “Nip/Tuck,” but I thought it made me seem less geeky than if I’d mentioned that he played Victor Von Doom from “Fantastic Four.”)
One day, as Linda ghosts around the house looking melancholy, there’s a knock at the door which, upon opening, reveals an uncomfortable-looking policeman. The news is bad. Apparently, Jim was killed in a car accident the day before. Why it took the authorities so long to notify the widow is never explained, but that extra day will become integral to the plot.
Linda, in shock, picks up her girls from school, calls her mom, and starts to go about the awful task of organizing a death. However, upon waking and wandering down to the kitchen the next morning, who does she find but Jim, drinking his coffee and watching the morning news, as if he’d never been flattened by an errant semitruck two days before.
Aha! That’s because it isn’t two days after his death, but rather two days before it. Is Linda going crazy, or is she experiencing some sort of bizarre mental/temporal/dimensional shift wherein she has seen, nay, lived the future before it happens?
And more importantly, now that she knows the future, can she, or will she, do anything about it?
“Premonition” is really nothing more than a pulpy bit of pseudo-science fiction aimed at a mainly female audience. The plot demands only cursory scrutiny, otherwise it falls apart like a pumpkin two weeks after Halloween. But, upon acceptance of the film’s B-movie status, most of it is genuinely entertaining. The story twists and turns, gradually revealing the true nature of Linda’s predicament.
A secret here, a mystery there, and you’re just as dizzy as the character on screen -- it’s fun. Mindless, to be sure, but fun. And then, in the last five minutes, it all goes up in smoke.
Obviously, I’m not going to reveal the ending of the movie, but suffice it to say that the writers, when confronted with the task of concluding their twisty suburban nightmare, threw up their hands and said, “to hell with it!” Loose endings left loose, conclusions that make no sense, and worst of all, a feeling of extreme dissatisfaction with a story that had been going fairly well.
This is what you are left with as the credits roll and the lights come up. It truly is one of the more disappointing endings I’ve seen in a long time, and I’d be willing to bet that the same is cited by nearly every critic who savages this film from now until it makes its ignominious appearance on the video shelves; which should happen relatively soon if audience reaction has any sway.
I wanted to like the movie. The acting was passable, and the direction seemed able, at the very least.
The movie was even helped by a curious characteristic of the auditorium where I saw it. Because of the high temperature of the projector’s lamp, occasionally you can see heat waves rippling and roiling across the screen, barely visible except on the whitest of white spots on the picture. Usually I don’t pay any attention to this, but in this movie it added a cool bit of atmosphere, unintentional or not.
It’s too bad. Sandra and Co. were on their way to having a crowd-pleasing bit of mid-season entertainment, complete with theatre-provided effects, but they blew it. Just about the only thing that could have saved “Premonition’s” ending was if the projector had heated up just enough to burn through the last few minutes of celluloid. Grade: C-
“Premonition” is rated PG-13 for brief violence, brief language, and adult themes.
Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.
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