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2 Ratings: 0.5
A movie directed by Joby Harold

Writer/director Joby Harold's debut feature, AWAKE, is an unsettling thriller that highlights a deeply troubling medical problem. "Anesthetic awareness" is a rare but dangerously prevalent condition that affects nearly 30,000 individuals a … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Dramas
Cast: Lena Olin
Director: Joby Harold
Release Date: 2007
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Awake

Who Told Haden Christensen He Could Act?

  • Aug 8, 2009
  • by
Pros: Not many

Cons: Haden Christensen

The Bottom Line:

Awake is a yawner despite the rather impressive cast. 

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

Whoever convinced Haden Christensen he could act should be slapped, seriously!  The man has no presence, no charisma, and scant acting ability.  So why does he keep showing up on the silver screen?  He almost single-handedly ruined the Star Wars prequels for me-as if the questionable scripts weren't enough to accomplish the task.  And so it was with his latest movie Awake (2007).        

Story Line

Written and directed by first-timer Joby Harold, Awake centers around Clay Beresford (Christensen ~ Jumper, Factory Girl, Star Wars: Episodes II & III) a young  billionaire with a weak heart, who is fiercely protected by his mother Lilith Beresford (Lena Olin ~ The Unbearable Likeness of Being, Chocolat, Alias).  After having an earlier heart attack Clay is befriended by Dr. Jack Harper (Terrence Howard ~ The Best Man, Ray, Hustle & Flow), the cardiologist who saved his life, but has far too many malpractice suits to still be operating on patients.  Clay is secretly dating Sam Lockwood (Jessica Alba ~ Dark Angel, Fantastic Four, The Eye), his mothers assistant.  Why secretly?  We never really find out.

Clay is waiting for a replacement heart.  Finally one appears and Clay insists Jack Harper perform the surgery over his mother's strenuous objections and those of Dr. Jonathan Neyer (Arliss Howard ~ Full Metal Jacket, Amistad, Medium).  Once on the operating table Clay suffers from "anesthetic awareness," wherein he finds himself awake and aware, but paralyzed and a sub-plot that involves dollars signs, betrayal, and gross violations of the Hippocratic Oath, unfolds.

My Thoughts
As I stated at the outset Hayden Christensen ruined this movie for me.  He has zero chemistry with Jessica Alba, and his lines were delivered with that same deadpan, emotionless style he brings to every role.  Even when Christensen tries to interject emotion into a scene I remain unconvinced, he's just that bad.  And worse: he narrated the film with his weak teenaged voice, that bespeaks accountant, not actor.    

However, the premise of Awake, that one could be fully conscious, aware, but completely paralyzed while a team of surgeons goes to work on your insides is, of course, intriguing if not wholly horrifying. Imagine being frozen in place and freaking, whilst the scalpel thinly slices your skin, your blood oozes, the clamps pull apart your rib cage, and the probing fingers start disengage your beating heart from the rest of you-and you can feel all of it, screaming inside your head from the intense uncensored pain! OUCH!

Yes, the premise has all of the making of class-A thriller, but unfortunately, first-time writer-director Joby Harold has very little in his quiver except this one arrow upon which he has wrapped this real-life phenomena. The problem is the rest of the movie was a simple-mined, contrived, implausible, predicable and boring even with Jessica Alba to stare at.  And did I mention that the two principle characters had zero chemistry?  Alba is at her best when her golden smile is allowed to light up the screen, but in Awake she is sour character made even more so by her leading man's lack of spark.

Awake is a yawner despite the rather impressive cast. 


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: None of the Above
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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