Oh Sandra Bullock, where did your career go so horribly wrong? So young, so young… Is the time travelling thing a metaphor, a subconscious reminder that there were once better times and better parts that didn’t necessarily involve standing next to William Shatner or starring in pictures with the phrase Ya-Ya in the title. Practical Magic, Forces of Nature and the surprisingly effervescent detox film 28 Days? We were not amused, and to think that I had actually defended Speed 2: Cruise Control. You’ve done some good work lately, Crash and Infamous come to mind, but Miss Congeniality 2 and The Lake House were really the pits, not to mention the latter’s fervent disregard for quantum mechanics.
Bullock breaks the time barrier once again with Premonition, although the title was confusing seeing as I’m not sure how one has a premonition about something in the past, but more on that later. Bullock plays Linda, a suburban housewife, she has two little girls with her husband Jim (Julian McMahon), who is faithful and loving (or is he?). One Thursday while going about her routine, Linda gets a knock at the door from the police telling her that Jim died on a lonely stretch of highway after being jack-knifed by a tractor-trailer. Naturally the family is devastated, but Linda goes to sleep that night and she wakes up on Monday, when Jim is still alive. Utterly confused, Linda assumes that the whole “Jim’s Dead” scenario was a very bad, very vivid dream; until she goes to sleep that night and wakes up on Saturday, the day of Jim’s funeral.
This whole mess is built on a logical flaw from the get-go. Linda jumps back and forth through the week, Sunday till Saturday, until she ends her journey on the Wednesday, the inevitable day where Jim meets his maker. The entire ordeal starts off on Thursday, right? So this point of fact in the narrative must allow for one of two possible options, each as implausible as the other. Either: a) Linda skipped from Saturday to Thursday, off screen, before the beginning of the film, or b) she completely blanked on everything that happened between Sunday and Thursday. Logical fallacies like this are made glaringly obvious, like when one of Linda’s daughters has her face all cut up on Saturday, which we later find out happened on Tuesday, even though at the beginning of the movie on Thursday she seems fine. At least I don’t remember seeing facial scarring on the one girl at the beginning, and you’d think something like that would be pretty conspicuous. Ugh, I need to go lay down for a minute.
Okay, so plot confusion in a movie that’s a time travel thriller/suspense is probably something you want to avoid. Another thing you want to avoid in a movie like this is unintentional laugh out loud moments, especially in scenes involving the funeral of the dead husband. Usually dropping the casket isn’t supposed to spurn impromptu fits of laughter, but thanks to bad editing and even worse acting, a scene of morbid realization becomes the Samuel L. Jackson-getting-killed-after-inspirational-speech-like-in-Deep-Blue-Sea award winner. In other words, the quick shot of the bouncing severed head of a dead husband was probably the wrong choice to make in the editing suite.
Speaking of wrong choices, many have heard my sermonizing about the end of the celluloid train wreck Pearl Harbor. To recap: nurse played by Kate Beckinsale falls for pilot played by Ben Affleck. Pilot Affleck goes to fly against Nazis in Britain and is presumed dead. Pilot Affleck’s friend pilot Josh Hartnett consoles Nurse Beckinsale. Eventually…you know. Pilot Affleck returns alive, but Pilot Hartnett has gotten Nurse Beckinsale pregnant. In the end Pilot Hartnett dies and Pilot Affleck and Nurse Beckinsale get married and raise Pilot Hartnett’s son together.
I’ve always been of the opinion that dramatically there are some real problems with this ending, for in a way, doesn’t she get to have both men? She has the child of one but marries the other and everything’s cool as they look out at the ample waves of grain, safe and secure in America’s purple mountain’s majesty or whatever. Wouldn’t the more dramatically potent ending have been the one where Affleck’s pilot, the one Beckinsale’s nurse really loved, died in the end. I mention this because we get a similar circumstance in Premonition. Linda also gets to have her cake and eat it and I hope that gets across the way I want it to without spoiling anything too terribly if you actually plan to see this thing. The end also conveniently skims over several necessary explanations, which are also spoiler heavy, but one thing I will say is that it’s a darn good thing Linda’s priest had a book handy explaining what she was going through; conveniently bookmarked with post-its in key passages I might add.
Remember the Family Guy bit about “Speed 3: Glacier of Doom”. I’ve got to be thinking that somewhere, someone in Sandra Bullock’s camp is saying “Hey, we can make that work.” In the meantime, piece of advice to anyone out there looking to make a time travel movie: there are two ways to do it right and one way to bollocks the whole thing. Either things are inevitable like in 12 Monkeys; things can be changed for the better like in Back to the Future; or nothing makes a lick of sense no matter what you do, like in Premonition.