Friday, August 31, 2007

PREMONITION: Another Groundhog Day?

PREMONITION (sci-fi thriller)

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Nia Long and Kate Nelligan
Director: Mennan Yapo
Time: 100 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? First, let's discuss the title. If you get the feeling that something is going to happen and you take action to prevent it from happening, the feeling becomes pure imagination. For a premonition to work, it has to happen, no matter what is being done to prevent it. Having ironed out the basics of such a plot, "Premonition" is a lot like that of time-travel movies that meddle with casuality and paradoxes. One may go 'back to the past' to change the 'future' in time-travel movies, but for a premonition to work, the ending has to be a foregone conclusion! Now, can this explain why this Sandra Bullock vehicle is such mess of a time-warp movie that leaves viewers more mystified and bewildered than entertained?

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Bullock plays Linda Hanson, a seemingly happy suburban housewife whose world suddenly crashes when a police officer arrives at her door with news that her husband Jim (Julian McMahon of TV's "Nip/Tuck") has been killed in a road accident. She consoles her daughters Megan (Shyann McClure) and Bridgett (Courtney Taylor Burness) and gets her mother (Kate Nelligan) to come and help out. By nightfall, Linda is exhausted. She curls up on the couch and falls asleep.

She awakens the next morning to discover that not only is Jim alive but the calendar has been peeled back from Thursday to Monday. Gradually, as the days pass, Linda discovers that she is no longer living life in a chronological fashion. Instead of her days progressing sequentially from Monday to Sunday, they are jumbled up, with the main event being the day of Jim's accident. Knowing what is going to happen, can she stop the accident? Should she change Fate?

HIGHS & LOWS: While sitting through the movie, we are reminded of "Groundhog Day" where events of a certain day are repeated over and over. In "Premonition", however, Linda is caught in a 'time warp' in which she is never certain whether she is in a nightmare or in reality. Her initial passivity and reluctance to change the outcome robs the movie of its possibilities. Throughout the movie, as German director Mennam Yapo offers up plot complications like Jim's perceived infidelity (with an office colleague), Linda's incarceration at a psychiatric hospital, and even an insurance conspiracy theory, we wonder if a surprise plot twist awaits us at the end.

Alas, what we get is disappointment. We can only write this off as another of Bullock's unlucky enterprise - after that unsavoury fourth-dimension romantic tryst that was "The Lake House". Sure, Yapo is understandably indulgent with his lead star, offering lingering close-ups of Bullock in bed and in the shower. Too bad he and scriptwriter Bill Kelly have not given Bullock a character we can really root for. Here, she appears like a Desperate Housewife sorely in need of a scandal. Except for the two child stars who offer solid portrayals, the other cast members are wasted too.

THE LOWDOWN: The puzzle in "Premonition" appears promising but we soon find that the pieces don't really fit. Better luck next time, Sandra.


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