Sandra Bullock as Linda Hanson
Julian McMahon as Jim Hanson
Shyann McClure as Megan Hanson
Courtney Taylor Burness as Bridgette Hanson
Nia Long as Annie
Marc Macaulay as Sheriff Reilly
Kate Nelligan as Joanne
Amber Valletta as Claire
Peter Stormare as Dr. Norman Roth
Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock) seems to be living the perfect middle-class life nice home, two daughters, loving husband but that all goes out the window when she learns her husband has died in an auto accident coming home from a business trip. Or at least, she thinks that’s what happened. The next day she wakes up to discover that Jim (Julian McMahon) hasn’t gone on his trip yet and is still alive. Reality quickly becomes more and more divorced from Linda as she moves back and forth in time, trying to find out if she can save Jim before it’s too late, and if she even wants to.
A time traveling examination (of sorts) of the stages of grief, along with the inevitable ideas about free will and predestination (really, what do you expect from a movie called ‘Premonition’), it’s not much more than a run-of-the-mill soap opera, albeit one with a slightly out of the ordinary premise.
One problem is the lack of coherence in Bill Kelly’s (“Blast From the Past”) script. Any film, and particularly one dealing with fantastic events, needs some sort of internal logic that it is faithful or it will just come off as arbitrary, which “Premonition” does. Linda is flung from day to day without rhyme or reason beyond the need bring out a specific plot point at a specific time. It’s all so artificial. It may sound like a quibble, but in a film where the structure is so intricately tied to plot and characterization, its workings suddenly become much more important. First time director Mennan Yapo seems to be hoping their audience will be so caught up in the emotion of Linda’s predicament that they won’t actually think about it too much, and it actually works for the first half or so, but quickly comes unraveled in the end.
The built-in lack of continuity makes it difficult for any of the supporting characters to really register (even the usually irrepressible Peter Stormare is sadly wasted), leaving the film to rest almost entirely on Bullock’s shoulders. The good news is she’s up to the task and is far and away the best thing in “Premonition.” Despite its flaws her sincerity almost makes it float, and that’s saying something.
Like a lot of mediocre movies, it’s not about much more than the immediate emotional response it’s trying to generate. The filmmakers themselves seem to realize this and make an effort to shoe horn a couple of different themes in the end. As the day of Jim’s death gets simultaneously closer and farther away, the illusion of Linda’s life falls away piece by piece as she learns that neither she or Jim were quite as happy as she thought they were. Ultimately it just makes an already muddled movie even more muddled.
It’s not particularly bad, just a bit dull and cursed with a case of the time-travel clevers. Despite an evocative and well-designed opening, it never quite lives up to its promise.