'Awake' tells the story of a heart-transplant patient (Christensen) whose anaesthesiologist leaves him conscious yet paralysed during his life-saving surgery. His mother (Olin) and new wife (Alba) struggle with their own histories as they wait and watch their combined destinies unfold.
First time helmer and screenwriter Joby Harold has a long way to go before his thriller rises to standards set by such films as 'Seven', 'Blue Velvet' or either 'Primal -' or 'Cape Fear'. The one thing the film does have going for it is the gripping reality-based terror of anaesthetic awareness, the concept of someone being awake during an operation.
Harold has successfully tapped into the fear of anyone who has ever gone under the knife, adding in graphic scalpel-chest-sawing detail to drive the point home. However his direction and dialogue fail the film's premise, making 'Awake' feel much longer than its mere 84-minute running time. He makes a fatal screenplay mistake, revealing the plot twists minutes after audiences have worked them out, waving goodbye to any hopes of suspense.
Much of the film's problems do lie with the script and plot but the buck doesn't stop there. Alba and Christensen were nominated earlier this year for a 'Razzie' award for worst screen couple and it’s a wonder they didn't win (Lindsay Lohan won for playing opposite herself in 'I Know Who Killed Me' - enough said). There was more chemistry between Sigourney Weaver and her 'Alien' than there is between these two and the only time they gel is in the race for worst performance.
In a case of art imitating life, Howard plays a surgeon who sells himself and his supporters short. Not a huge stretch for the actor. The 'Hustle and Flow' Oscar-nominee has followed up a number of great performances in films such as 'Crash' and 'Four Brothers' with some very questionable choices, including 'Get Rich or Die Tryin''. 'Awake' now tops that pile.
A great idea which became a bad film that, thanks to weak direction and even worse performances, will leave you anything but 'Awake'.