A dull procedure
Directed by: Joby Harold
Written by: Joby Harold
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba and Terrence Howard
According to the opening titles of Awake, a small percentage of patients who undergo surgery can feel everything regardless of the anesthesia – paralyzed and unable to scream for help. It’s a disturbing concept to work a film around, but with Jessica Alba and Hayden Christensen the seriousness and confronting nature of the premise is completely lost in unconvincing performances and a strangely cheesy directorial style.
Clay Beresford (Christensen) gets a heart transplant. With a large company to run and a beautiful partner to look out for, the stakes are high for Clay. But just when Clay goes under the knife, he realizes to his horror that the anesthesia has no effect on him other than paralyzing him and making him appear asleep in front of his surgeons. Through the physical pain and the mentally shaking terror of being operated on awake, Clay enters a surreal state of consciousness that uncovers even more distressing realities.
As the twists of Awake start to unravel, Clay’s fight for survival hangs on a stream of consciousness that returns to memories and the all-too clear realizations that are conveniently fitted into scenes previously shown before. While the intrigue behind Awake is an unexpected one at first, the film does the rounds again and again with a repetitiveness that doesn’t build on intensity. Instead, the film chooses to take the predictable road into flashbacks, obvious conclusions and flat character motivations that are intended to bring new developments in the story. Unfortunately, the desired heart-stopping surprises act to anesthetize our excitement and prove dead boring.