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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 23, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Bullock attempts to make up for latest thriller’s recycled plot

Sandra Bullock’s new headlining project “Premonition” isn’t half as bad as some elitist critics might suggest. There are even moments in this nonlinear thriller — which survives almost solely on Bullock’s raw charisma — that are actually downright, well, thrilling.

Linda Hanson (Bullock), the film’s protagonist, is a confused woman. She answers the door one horrible afternoon to learn that her husband Jim (Julian McMahon of “Nip/Tuck”) has died in a fiery car accident, only to wake up the next morning and find him eating Cheerios at the breakfast table. It takes her a while to realize it, but Linda is living the worst week of her life with the days out of order, and she finds herself in what is essentially a giant jigsaw puzzle. As Linda pieces together the fragments of the story of her husband’s death (and its aftermath), she begins to understand that even though her husband died yesterday, that doesn’t mean she can’t still save him today. No wonder she’s confused.

It’s up to the harried housewife to map out her plan of attack, which she does, quite literally, with her kids’ washable markers at the dining room table, and take back Jim’s life. During this time, Linda also uncovers secrets that lead her to believe her perfect husband may not have been so perfect after all.

“Premonition” is seemingly fashioned from the scraps of films like “Groundhog Day” and “The Sixth Sense.” The similar paranormal plots are stitched together with a nice thematic lesson about not taking life for granted, making the film hard to swallow. Many questions are left unanswered at the finish, like how and why Linda experiences her premonitions, if that is, in fact, what they are. They could just as easily be described as hallucinations or figments resultant of psychosis. The audience is also left unsure as to whether changes to one day affect what happens in future days, which could create a sticky paradoxical conundrum (think “Back to the Future”).

Either way, the audience buys into the phenomenon, if for no other reason than because Miss Congeniality herself said so.

Bullock has followed her acclaimed performances in films like “Crash” in 2004 and “Infamous” in 2006 with a set of “chronologically challenged” head-scratchers. “The Lake House” began this unusual trend, further mystifying her methodology when it comes to choosing projects.

In “Premonition,” Bullock exhibits the quality that has made audiences fall in love with her: that girl-next-door persona, without which the film would have sunk under its own weight. The realistic development of Linda’s grief despite the choppiness of the plot is what earns Bullock the most points, and it is never hard for audiences to put themselves in Linda’s shoes, even in the most outrageous of situations.

Director Mennan Yapo and cinematographer Torsten Lippstock present Linda’s decidedly screwed-up world through an appropriate lens. Her life, though familiar, is never entirely clear, and the focus is placed on all the things that matter — recurring objects, places and people — to give the audience a dramatized version of her experience. This keeps the viewers looking where they should and gives texture to some of the slow yet steady plot development.

“Premonition” is hardly as atrocious as many critics have claimed. But if it weren’t for Bullock’s versatility and personal force, the film would have been a total failure.

“Premonition” was written by Bill Kelly and directed by Mannan Yapo.

“Premonition” received two out of four stars.