This dramatic thriller is improved by its cast but suffers from a contrived “self-fulfilling” plot; you’ll love it if you buy it and will hate it if you don’t.
It’s just another day for housewife Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock) taking her daughters to school and cleaning the house when the ringing of her doorbell changes everything: her husband Jim (Julian McMahon) has been killed in a freakish traffic accident. Crying herself to sleep that night, Linda awakens to discover her husband alive and the events of the previous day fading like a terrible nightmare. On the third day, the nightmare returns, and things are even more disturbing than before, as if Linda were living the days of the week out of order, all counting down to the death of her husband. If it’s true, is there a way to prevent the tragedy, or will she be forced to accept what apparently is already doomed to happen?
Premonition starts with a simple concept, a woman living every other day jumping through time and experiencing each day with no forethought as to the actual order (at first). There’s never an explanation for this, although a contrived story moment hints that such a phenomenon has occurred before to others, but the fact is that this sci-fi plot device is only that, a means to an end. While it drives the film, the plot device also hurts the ending because it suggests that the device itself created the very situation it also reveals. As far as time travel or time-jumping movies go, it’s weak at best, but the device is also a setup for drama, and that’s where the cast and story truly shine.
As a housewife about to lose her husband, Sandra Bullock’s character is prompted with the opportunity to see how loveless her marriage is and how routine her relationship with her husband has become. To that end, she realizes she only has a finite amount of time to either grieve for her coming loss or get off her butt and do something about it. Ms. Bullock drives the story forward and again proves why she’s worthy of leading lady status, genuinely trying to save a life and her relationship and not mentally come apart doing it. This is where the movie excels, and a kind or confused look from Julian McMahon is all the acknowledgment Sandra needs to suck the audience into her doomed but hopeful world.
Unfortunately, once the film has written itself into the science-fiction corner, only the space-time continuum can get them out, creating the kind of ending that makes people scream at the screen about how stupid the characters have been. Sure, it’s one thing to be overcome with emotion and make a mistake failing to pay attention, but it’s quite another while the universe suddenly turns against someone who’s fate is apparently sealed. It’s as if the message is, “Live every day as if it were your last, even if you know exactly when death is coming and have have several days to fix it.” One can still hear Ebeneezer Scrooge lament, “Why show me this if I am past all hope?” In the end there is a reason, of course, and whether you buy it or not is how you’ll remember this film (if you recall it at all).
(a two skull recommendation out of four)