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So here’s a question. How does a movie featuring Jessica Alba, Hayden Christensen and Terrence Howard just sneak into theaters with hardly anyone even knowing the movie exists? The answer is simple… it’s a HORRIBLE BORING movie that the studios knew well enough to not bother blowing more money on a marketing campaign for.
THE GENERAL IDEA
Hayden Christensen plays one of the wealthiest men in the world who also happens to have a heart of gold who uses his wealth to not only build MORE wealth, but also to improve the city and create jobs for people. Such a nice guy. Problem is, even though he has a proverbial heart of gold, his LITERAL heart is bad and he’s in need of a heart transplant. He’s also secretly engaged to Jessica Alba’s character who he loves with his whole defective heart… but he’s been hesitant to tell his mother who he fears will freak out at the news.
One thing leads to another and when a heart becomes available, Hayden goes in for the transplant operation with his best friend (Terrence Howard) performing the procedure. The problem is, Hayden experiences a real condition called “anesthetic awareness” where the patient is put under, but is fully conscious and aware of what is going on and can still hear and feel everything. That would SUCK! While lying helpless and yet fully awake on the operating table (to everyone else it looks like he’s under) Hayden discovers that someone has a plan to kill him and profit from his death. DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNN!
There is one pretty decent plot twist in the film.. and another AWESOME plot twist that total caught me off guard and I did not see coming. I obviously can tell you what it is except to say that it was set up in such a way that it really got me, and not only was it a twist just for the sake of a twist… it actually played perfectly into the story. It really was well done.
Terrance Howard as the Hayden’s best friend and doctor was very good. He played the role with a lot of subtlety and made great use of gestures and mannerisms to express and communicate things about his character.
The operating scenes looked VERY real. I’m not kidding… it was outrageously uncomfortable to watch… which leads us to…
Ok, we frigging get it. Open heart surgery looks gross. I kid you not… at least 20 minutes of the film the camera was on a ripped open chest. I can completely see the need for it up to a certain point (ie. seeing the doctors break his chest open so we can identify with and experience some of the horror Hayden must be experiencing being awake), but after that it was just gratuitous. It’s almost as if the producer said “Damn, we spent $300,000 on this realistic open chest… lets use it on screen as much as possible”. It became a total distraction from the story (not that there was much of one) and just felt needless as if they were just killing time.
No pace. People often misunderstand me when I say a film lacked pace. Slow movies are fine if there is a sense of motion to them, a pace. This movie from the first 5 minutes felt like it was trying to drive 2 wheel through thick mud. Entire sections of the film were just at a stand still with no progression or development. The best way to describe it is that it felt like at times the movie was just loitering.
Pointless. Here’s the thing… the movie is called “AWAKE” which suggests one of the key things to the story is that fact that Hayden is conscious during the procedure and over hears secrets in the operating room. Great…. but it has NO EFFECT on the story whatsoever. If this movie were done again, only Hayden was actually out cold… EVERYTHING else in the movie would have been 100% the exact same. I’m not kidding. Hayden being “AWAKE” has NOTHING to do with the rest of the story or the movie at all. It was completely pointless. Very frustrating for someone who sat through the whole thing waiting for the relevance that never arrived.
Some respectable performances (even by Alba) and an AMAZING little plot twist are wasted on this motionless, boring and by the end pointless film. Gore gimmicks that are better suited for the SAW series became a distraction, and having your main premise of the film end up being irrelevant to the actual story didn’t help either. AWAKE is a boring, uncomfortable film that felt much longer than it actually was. Don’t bother with it. I end up giving Awake a 3/10.