* (out of 5)
March 16, 2007
Sandra Bullock as LINDA HANSON
Julian McMahon as JIM HANSON
Nia Long as ANNIE
Kate Nelligan as JOANNE
Amber Valletta as CLAIRE
Peter Stormare as DR. NORMON ROTH
Shyann McClure as MEGAN HANSON
Courtney Taylor Burness as BRIDGETTE HANSON
Studio: Tristar Pictures
Directed by: Mennan Yapo
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’m a sucker for “Twilight Zone” stories, which is probably why I was looking forward to a movie like “Premonition.” These kind of stories are often criticized for being simple, formulaic or not effectively able to deal with characters. But to see how challenging it is to pull one off, you only have to see when other filmmakers fail.
“Premonition” is a story about Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock) who lives a week out of order, first discovering her husband Jim (Julian McMahon) is dead, then alive, and so on. When she realizes what’s going on, she tries – sort of – to save her husband’s life.
I guess it goes to show that just because some filmmakers think one type or story is formulaic or simple, that doesn’t mean they can actually pull it of themselves.
Okay, I’m going to go into what some might consider nit-picking mode. Bear with me, however, and you’ll see that this one minor script flaw is indicative of everything that is wrong with “Premonition.”
The movie happens out of sequence, starting on a Thursday when Linda learns Jim has been killed in a nasty car accident. Later, she flashes ahead to the visiting hours before the funeral on Saturday. Here, her character discovers that her daughter Bridgette (Courtney Taylor Burness) has a mosaic of mysterious lacerations on her face. No one seems to know how she got the cuts, and they suspect Linda of doing it in her grief.
Later, we discover that on Tuesday, the daughter got the scars by running through a plate-glass window. In this sequence, Linda takes her to the emergency room, meets Jim there, and later he tells her that he’s asking her mother to visit while he’s away.
Here’s my problem… if Bridgette got her cuts on Tuesday, why didn’t we see the cuts in the first scene of the film which took place on Thursday? And if Jim was there and specifically asked Linda’s mother to visit after this incident, why is the source of these lacerations such a mystery? After all, if you bring a child into an E.R. with suspected abuse, they don’t start looking into it after the husband dies two days later.
This may seem like a minor problem, but it is a colossal error in continuity and script logic. And it’s one thing for that to emerge in a screenplay, but you would think that somewhere along the film development, script readers, producer meetings, principle photography, editing, reshoots and post production that someone – anyone – would stop and say, “Hey guys, why doesn’t Bridgette have cuts on her face in the first scene?”
I can think of only two explanations to this: 1) The filmmakers just didn’t care, or 2) The filmmakers think the audience is too stupid to pick up on something like this. Neither case bodes well for the film. And for me, this little continuity flaw became the elephant in the room for the rest of the plot.
This supposedly minor script flaw opened up too many questions, like why she never sought more details of his death, why it took so long for her to catch onto what was happening, why she just didn’t stop and say, “Hey honey, I had a premonition that you were going to die at this point on this road on this day at this hour.” Instead, she offers a weak, “I dreamed you died” comment that is all-too-easily dismissed with Jim saying, “Everything’s going to be okay.”
Ultimately, “Premonition” is so full of logic flaws, continuity errors, stupid behavior, silly coincidences and ridiculous character developments that it’s amazing the screenwriter or director couldn’t foresee the train wreck of a film it becomes.