Monday, November 11, 2013

Awake (2007)(Minor Spoilers Review)

**This review contains MINOR spoilers, no plot twists, big reveals, or major surprises**

Wealthy businessman Clay Beresford (Hayden Christensen) is stuck in a troubling dilemma. As the top man in his deceased father’s company, Clay tries to close a lucrative deal, but Clay’s health causes some major concerns. Suffering from a potentially fatal heart condition, Clay needs a heart transplant to save his life.

Clay’s overprotective and controlling mother, Lilith (Lena Olin) urges Clay to choose Dr. Jonathan Neyer (Arliss Howard), a world renowned surgeon, who’s in line to become the next Surgeon General, for the operation, but Clay refuses. Instead, Clay picks Dr. Jack Harper (Terrence Howard) for the surgery. Dr. Harper saved Clay’s life after an attack. Afterwards, Clay and Dr. Harper developed a bond as friends, so out of loyalty and respect, Clay rejects Dr. Neyer.

To add to his growing list of problems, Clay is in a secret relationship with his mother’s assistant, Sam (Jessica Alba). Minutes before the surgery, Clay is reassured by Jack, and members of his team, including Dr. Puttnam (Fisher Stevens) and Penny (Georgina Chapman), but Clay’s eased spirit is disturbed once the anesthesia kicks in. Clay is unable to speak, move, or open his eyes, and as a result of anesthesia awareness, Clay is able to hear everything going on around him.

Clay is struggling to comprehend his bizarre situation, and things only get worse, when Clay accidentally overhears every little detail in a plot to murder him on the operating table……….

Yeah, suspension of disbelief is CRUCIAL for enjoying Awake. Awake feels like a sci-fi thriller, that’s trying way too hard to be crafty and complex most of the time, but I have to admit, it’s hard to look away. I had to know what would happen to Clay every step of the way. Is Clay going to survive? Will someone actually hear Clay in the hospital? I was hooked into the story with each passing minute, and Awake deserves credit for some well placed and genuinely surprising swerves.

Overall, the cast is capable at best. Hayden Christensen is decent in the leading role, and it’s nice to Jessica Alba break out of her usual mold of being the innocent ray of sunshine to take on a more devious and cold-hearted character, but it’s almost impossible to pick out a top notch performance from this cast. Terrence Howard comes close as the conflicted best friend, but his character is overshadowed by an overwhelming amount of screen time for Clay. Lena Olin is another top contender. She’s spot on as the controlling, delusional, and emotionally abusive mother, but Lilith encounters the same problem Jack encountered: Clay’s screen time and focus dominates everything. And for what it’s worth, McDonald is good for a few laughs, as the seemingly dimwitted drunk.

Still, I really enjoyed Awake. As I said before, strapping yourself into suspension of disbelief mode is essential to buying into or tolerating the supernatural side of this film, and some will complain about a contrived story and preposterous plot twists. But if you’re willing to sit back and enjoy some fun, Awake is an effective and satisfying mystery/thriller, with an intriguing and deceptive story. Awake leads you down one street, and out of nowhere, the story takes a sharp turn into a series of tricky, bumpy roads with thick clouds of unsettling fog.

Rating: 6/10

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