Film Review: Awake

About Awake (2007)
AwakeMedical thriller starring Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba. 22-year old Clay Beresford (Christensen) has a successful career with a capital investment firm and a beautiful fiancee named Sam (Alba). His life would be perfect but for the heart condition that requires him to have a transplant, and the fact that he has to hide his engagement from his mother, Lilith (Lena Olin), because Sam is her personal assistant. His friend, Dr. Jack Harper (Terrence Howard), is scheduled to perform the operation but Clay’s family thinks he should go to a better clinic with a more experienced surgeon. After a row with Lilith over his relationship with Sam, Clay asks Dr. Harper to arrange a quick wedding. After marrying in a church at midnight, Clay goes to the hospital for his operation. However, after being given the anaesthetic, Clay finds that he’s still awake and aware, but completely paralysed. While seemingly under, he discovers a plot to end his young life, but how is he to supposed stop it?

Starring: Terrence Howard, Fisher Stevens, Arliss Howard, Hayden Christensen, Sam Robards

Directed by: Joby Harold

Runtime: 84 minutes

Studio: The Weinstein Company

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Review: Awake

Joby Harold’s drama certainly has an interesting premise. Clay Beresford (Hayden Christensen) is a rich businessman and is in love with his mother’s personal assistant, Sam (Jessica Alba), and has been seeing her behind his mother’s back. Clay requires a heart transplant and has turned to Dr Jack Harper (Terrence Howard) for help. When Clay gets word a heart is ready for him, he marries Sam at a hastily organised ceremony before heading to the hospital. Once under anesthesia, Clay encounters a rare condition where he remains awake during the operation, his mind active though on the surface he appears to be asleep. Clay can hear the discussions around the operating table and soon learns all is not well.

In the waiting room Sam and Clay’s mother, Lillith (Lena Olin), patiently await news of his condition. Remaining awake, Clay is able to play back many events leading up to the operation and it soon becomes apparent that Dr Harper has no desire to save his life. The plan is for Clay to be killed but why? Out in the waiting room Sam and Lillith are reassured that all is well with Clay. The question is how can Clay prevent his death when he is under anaesthetic? Will Sam and Lillith realise what is going on or is Clay doomed?

The storyline for Awake sounded quite interesting but sadly the execution lets it down badly. Christensen has never astonished me with his acting ability in the past and he does nothing to set the record straight here as the leading man. The dilemma of how Clay can let someone know what is going on was a very good one but how the whole thing resolves itself is just far too straightforward. Though it was good watching the bad guys get their comeuppance here it did nothing to rescue what was a disappointing thriller overall. Olin was one of the few highlights in the film though even she felt underused.

On the surface, Awake has a good idea for a storyline but beyond that it fails. Christensen doesn’t lead the cast particularly well, the twists in the narrative are not bad but once unraveled there is no wow factor, while the film’s run time of less than 90 minutes leaves it lacking in substance. This is an idea that should be explored again but with a much better storyline next time round. The statistics that accompany the film are also said to be highly questionable which makes one shake their head even more.

Verdict: 1/5

(Film source: reviewer’s own copy)

Author: Dave Brown I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I now live in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.

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