It starts off kind of cool. A super-rich kid needs a new ticker while living a double life. One, he runs his father’s business and fronts a Mama’s boy attitude, two, he sneaks off to Brooklyn night after night to be with his love that Mama wouldn’t approve of. What Mama doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
The first act plays as a secret love affair, full of overnight trysts and deceitful lies. But once Hayden Christensen steps up on the operating slab to get a new heart, Awake flatlines. Jessica Alba has a little fun (especially in her later scenes), trying to hit emotional range while dropping several F-bombs. The film also has good supporting turns from the magnificent Terrance Howard and even a quirky Christopher McDonald.
But this impressive cast can’t save the film from its style. Once Christensen is out, he soon realizes that he is the victim of anesthetic awareness. He can’t move, he can’t talk, but he can feel everything, essentially, he is awake. And boy, do we suffer from it. Christensen delivers a horrendously unconvincing voice-over that will make you unintentionally laugh. And somehow he is able to get up off the table and walk around as a type of anesthetically aware alter ego, going back to crucial moments in his past. Get it? I didn't. Take it for what it’s worth.
The real travesty of Awake is the film’s all-too-revealing trailer. If you have any interest in seeing this film, ignore the preview. If you’ve already seen it, you’re screwed. There is a great plot twist in the film that changes its entire structure. Too bad I already knew what it was. It’s a real shame when a three minute preview can ruin the best parts of a mediocre, hour and 20 minute movie.
I remember What Lies Beneath, Robert Zemeckis’ great mystery-thriller starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. The preview showed Ford’s character telling Pfeiffer that he had slept with a woman, whose ghost was now haunting Pfeiffer. And that was the huge twist in the movie. It was the big revelation in the final moments of the film. I suppose producers don’t know how to market some of their pictures, so they make the decision to reveal the most crucial plot points to fill seats. It’s a cheap, cowardly tactic that will in no way get people in their movie. Think about it, if you’ve seen the preview for Awake, the film is ruined, so why would you want to pay for something that you know is coming? I mean, it’s no Sixth Sense. D+