Awake clever, but not realistic
December 3, 2007 —
Awake is the type of twist-filled movie that seems incapable of invoking any sort of emotion. Nobody is who they seem, and those with truthful identities are boring. It's not that it isn't interesting, but the lack of three-dimensional characters combined with an outrageously short runtime made me almost entirely apathetic to the story.
Hayden Christenson stars as Clay, a billionaire stricken with heart disease whose occupation could only be construed by me as important, I never figured out what it is he actually does. His over-protective mother (Lena Olin) disapproves of his relationship with Sam (Jessica Alba). I always thought Jessica Alba seemed the type one would be glad to bring home to mom, but Clay worries about it and keeps it a secret, continuing the tradition of Hayden Christenson playing characters that just don't know how to handle love.
His mother's worry is predicated either by her disapproval of Sam's working-class background, her fear of Clay's heart disease, or her obsession with getting Clay to remember his childhood, of all things. Her motivation was never made clear, and she comes across as scheming and evil throughout the early scenes of the movie.
Terrence Howard plays Clay's doctor, Dr. Harper, who Clay trusts with his eventual heart surgery. His mother, of course, wants her esteemed surgeon, who she has known for fifteen years, to perform the operation. Clay barely seems like an adult in his inability to deal with motherly concern, and he became a fairly unlikable character to me because of his relative childishness. He still lives at home, although he spends the nights at Sam's apartment, sneaking back in the morning to bring his mother drinks and wait on her hand and foot. Don't these billionaires have butlers for that?
Eventually, a heart shows up for Clay, and he insists on having Dr. Harper perform the operation, much to his mother's chagrin. I worried that the surgical scenes would get to me, as I was never one for medical videos in health class, but they aren't too intense.
The gimmick of Awake is the phenomenon in which a patient under anesthesia somehow stays awake as their surgery is performed. This happens to Clay, but it's apparent that it is much more, and the condition is warped into the realm of fantasy, with Clay traveling back to his past in attempt to figure out why things have become more than shady with regards to what his doctors are doing to him. Their intentions are not just a heart transplant, but murder.
There are some neat scenes with Clay wandering around his house in a sort of spirit world, with the lights slowly fading away one by one as his physical body fades from life. It may sound like I've given away too many details, but don't worry, there are plenty of twists to be had, which is, in the end, what keeps Awake interesting.
I wonder if movies like Awake are written by people suffering from severe paranoia. It seems there is a whole subgenre of films predicated on the fear of things not being what they seem. Regardless of origin or intent, though, Awake is a short, entertaining movie, but one unlikely to be talked about in the future.