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Review of “Awake” (2007) R 84min

December 2nd, 2007 by Maxim · No Comments · 6,264 Views

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Awake (2007) R 84minThis movie from the first seconds seemed to be a hospital drama ala “ER”. It began with a message: “Every year 3,000,000 anesthesias are performed. One in 700 people ends up awake during the surgery – a condition known as “anesthetic awareness” when patient is paralyzed but is still awake”. So it appeared that at least part of the movie will be about some poor person being opened up on the surgen’s table, feel the pain, but not being able to do anything about it. But to everyone’s surprise it actually turned out to be a thriller.

The plot: immediately after the opening scene where doctors are not able to revive the patient after an unsuccessful heart surgery we go back in time a few days. Oh, forget it. The best description of the plot is the tag line: “when they decided to kill her husband they didn’t know he’d be awake”.

Hayden Christensen plays Clay Beresford, the owner of some New York-based 100 million dollar real estate company inherited from his father who died when Clay was very little. His mother Lilith (Lena Olin) co-manages appears to be powerful, strong and overbearing woman, similar to mother character in Manchurian Candidate. She is very unhappy that her beloved son got engaged with their secretary, Sam Lockwood (Jessica Alba). But the biggest problem is that Clay had a heart condition and needs a transplant. For the operation, despite his mothers insistence on using her doctor, he picks his friend to perform the surgery – doctor Jack Harper played by Terrence Howard. Clay is one of the patients who was the victim of the mentioned syndrome, and while he is awake during surgery he makes horrible discovery.

This movie has the love story, the story of father and son relationship, the mother and son relationship, 100 million dollars at stake, naked Jessica Alba, an out-of-body experience, and an “ER”-type heart transplant surgery. The latter was rather graphic, but it did not bother me at all; it wasn’t gross or repulsive, but Elena kept her eyes closed.

The acting was descent. Hayden Christensen gets better with every movie he plays in. With exception of “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” where he didn’t have any descent material to work with, he had done a very good job in movies like “Virgin Suicides”, “Life as a House”, “Shattered Glass” and “Factory Girl”. Jessica Alba looked pretty and was very believable, although she made an impression of Angelina Jolie-wannabe. The best act in the movie belongs to Lena Olin and Terrence Howard – very strong performances, yet not an Oscar caliber.

Cinematically, I liked the visuals of the out-of-body experience – nice light management there, though nothing of a breakthrough. The experience of being opened-up while being awake did not feel painful enough and as a result it felt fake – clearly director/writer’s (Joby Harold) fault. The first half of the movie was a set up for the surgery: it was a love story with some background information. The second half, the surgery, is the part when love story turns into a thriller, but it lacked suspense. Only a few moments were tense enough. And the ending was easy to guess about half an hour earlier.

The movie highlighted the pretty sad fact that being super-wealthy is not much fun and that a lot of people are out there to get you. Clay’s mother didn’t trust anyone, even her son’s new wife. Life sucks if you cannot trust anyone. Another aspect of this movie is mother-son relationship, particularly this relationship in the context of a wealthy family. Clay has capacity to do whatever he can, but even he from time to time should listen to his mother – she knows twice more then him about life. So if you are a parent, make sure your unruly teenager sees this movie.

Another note about the movie: a quote from one of the “James Bond” films. “…Sex… the coldest weapon of all”.

Trivia: The Tagline is a gross misrepresentation of statistics. The actual estimate of awareness during anesthesia is 1:14000 for high risk patients to as low as 1:42000.

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Tags: Drama · Movies · Romance · Thrillers/Suspense

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