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NEVER SAW IT COMING (2018). L-R - Emily Hampshire as Keisha Ceylon and Eric Roberts as Wendell Garfield. Courtesy of Never Saw It Coming Productions Inc.

Never Saw It Coming Productions Inc.

  • Never Saw It Coming
  • Directed by: Gail Harvey
  • Written by: Linwood Barclay
  • Starring: Emily Hampshire, Eric Roberts, and Katie Boland
  • Classification: 14A; 83 minutes

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The trouble was clear from the beginning, when the name “Eric Roberts” appeared on-screen in the opening credits. It’s not as if Roberts is a bad actor, just a remarkably undiscriminating one, appearing in 74 projects last year alone. Sure, there was the possibility that Never Saw It Coming would be more along the lines of Roberts' high-water mark of Star 80 than, say, his appearance in last year’s Las Vegas Vietnam: The Movie (no, you’ve never seen it).

But the odds were not good – and sure enough, this small-scale Canadian thriller is just another entry in Roberts' ludicrously long C.V. Which is a shame, because there was potential in the source material, Linwood Barclay’s 2013 novel of the same name about a phony clairvoyant (Emily Hampshire) who gets mixed up in a real-deal murder.

The prolific (but not Eric Roberts-style prolific) Barclay can’t shift too much of the blame, though, given that he wrote the frequently cheesy adaptation himself. Perhaps director Gail Harvey is the true author of this misfortune, with its rushed scenes and staging that only highlights, rather than deflects, the film’s made-for-TV budget. Or the cast, who deliver their lines with little polish and even less sincerity. At least Roberts had the good fortune to have his character exit the film early. No doubt the man has better – or at least many other – things to do.

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Never Saw It Coming opens Aug. 17 in Toronto