I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 1994. “Speed” had just been released. A nation watched as Keanu disarmed dangerous red countdown clocks with a reckless, cheerfully outrageous zeal.
But I had my eyes on someone else. Sandra Bullock was a filmic premiere of strength, humility and natural talent. She was good looking, yes, but also had heart and acting chops that could complete even the most established lead actors.
It’s been more than 10 years, and we’re left with just one question: What the hell happened? “Premonition,” the exceptionally mediocre new thriller, is the latest wayward star vehicle for Bullock, yet another misstep in a long line of bad movies for her.
At least in “Miss Congeniality” and “Forces of Nature” Bullock played a human being. Not here. She is on zombified autopilot, playing the wife of a man who has died. In this style, she muddles all the emotions needed to give this weird film the proper excitement. It’s a particular bummer since buried in this misbegotten film is an interesting story.
Linda (Bullock) is a normal housewife, minding two cute daughters and an attractive husband (Julian McMahon, TV’s “Nip/Tuck”). But things aren’t so normal when Linda finds that her husband has died. She stays very internal about whole thing. She doesn’t cry at the news, and she seems more upset over his death disabling her from reaching hard to get items. She’s just awkward, really.
Waking up the following day on a Monday morning, Linda finds her husband alive. Equally strange, she fell asleep on Thursday night. Doesn’t make sense? Don’t worry: it’s not supposed to. Linda finds herself in a bizarre series of events, leading her from one different day to the next in non-sequential order and with surrealistic overtones. This is where “Premonition” finds its only strengths.
Breezy, gray suburban landscapes make for a dreamy atmosphere reminiscent of “Blow-Up” or “Discrete Charm of Bourgeoisie.” “Premonition” is respectful of its surrealist roots, offering few answers, much to the perplexed delight of viewers. The film succeeds in making this far-fetched time-traveler story interesting. A shame it suffers so much from the terrible melodrama.
Odd that in a film that needs strong emotional weight to carry the subject matter, everyone’s performances are stiff and wooden as if that’s the point. Bullock becomes a case study in dreary, lifeless acting. She can’t shed a tear as she half-heartedly tries to solve the mystery of her day-hopping.
To be fair, it’s not just Bullock at fault here. It’s as if everybody took Lifetime acting classes on how to seem like slightly upset wealthy people. And there’s really no getting around the deeply flawed screenplay by Bill Kelly (“Blast from the Past”), in which a good idea is obliterated by bad dialogue and absent motivation.
You’d hope Bullock would solve things before the audience does. But no. This movie just goes to show that Bullock’s career is in desperate need of life support. She can act. She can entertain. She does neither in “Premonition.”
At Quality 16 and Showcase
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars