Awake…More Like Asleep

For those readers who have any qualms about Cinemaddict’s ratings system, this movie all but proves how accurate the system is. Jessica Alba – in all her supernatural beauty – couldn’t save this movie by herself.

Apparently, all Ms. Alba is good for is getting almost naked. I hoped and prayed that this might be the one where she finally broke down and gave in to her inner nudist but, alas, not on this occasion. Too bad; that might have paid dividends for this thrill-less thriller.

Awake starts off by giving the audience a heavy-handed account of how great and powerful our protagonist Clay (Hayden “Anakin” Christensen) is and how in love he is with his stunning (and stunningly secret) fiance Sam (Alba). But there is a problem with this picturesque setting: Clay’s heart is failing and he’s been wait-listed for a new heart. (I know…interesting, considering he’s a billionaire. But it’s a movie.) The first act of the movie is dedicated to him waiting for a heart and trying to manage his affairs before the subsequent transplant. Aside from writer/director Joby Harold beating it into our skulls how wealthy Clay is, this first act sets up the possibility of a decent plot concerning love and death.

Then comes the second act.

Interestingly, Harold changes and appears more concerned about using generic narrative twists and gimmicks to get the audience the rest of the way.

(Spoilers be here)
Clay goes under the knife only to be left awake and paralyzed, unable to communicate with the outside world. The movie twists around as, GASP, the entire world is against him. The real shocker is, you guessed it, his new bride is against him too. I wish the gold-digger was a guy for once. Now that would be a surprise. But I digress. The movie finishes off and you leave feeling like you haven’t learned a thing.

Now to give you the sorta good, the bad and the really ugly.

Writer/Director Harold chose a very big task for his first undertaking and, on the surface, it looked like my kind of movie. Trying to create a movie along the same lines as a Hitchcock thriller is not a bad direction to go, but you really have to have something special to pull it off. Harold misses, but from what I saw he missed narrowly. He directed it as well as could be expected for the story he wrote, letting the story develop naturally for the first 30 minutes or so. In the hands of better actors he might have nailed it. As it is, he had to rely on the obvious plot twists to carry the story and that was his downfall.

Alba and Christensen. What can I say that wouldn’t be cliche? They’re bad actors, but nice to look at (at least on the part of Alba). Fans of these two probably won’t be disappointed. But for people who want to actually have a connection with the mega-hot talent will see it for what it was. I’ll never say casting Alba for a character is a mistake, but hiring two bad leading actors is just stupid. Harold mistake #2.

Finally, as interesting as the plot idea was, it failed to deliver on several levels. The movie underwhelmed in suspense and thrills. The audience never feels antsy enough to squirm in their seat, even with the 20-odd ways that Christensen yells “I can feel that! Oh God!” nor do they get genuinely scared about the fate of the main character. The movie also failed to put the audience on an emotional roller-coaster. No one in the audience feels a high or depressed as the actor is subjected to happiness and joy or pain and betrayal. If someone watching the movie cannot feel with the character, how are they supposed to care what happens to him/her?

One fairly bright spot in the movie is when Lena Olin takes the screen. Her scenes are the ones you want to pay attention to, mainly because she brings an air of aged elegance to the screen. The rest of the movie you can turn on your iPhone and rock out.

In the end, this movie took an interesting premise and lumped it together with generic devices, giving the audience nothing to think about afterwards except why they spent ten dollars to go and see it. Luckily for me, it was the second half of a double feature. And free is good for this one.

*1/2 Jessicas out of four, because without Alba, this would’ve been only 1/2 star. I still maintain that had Alba shown the rest of her…uh… “beauty”, this movie would’ve been awesome. But I guess hindsight is 20/20.


1 Comment so far »


    Administrator said

    December 27 2007 @ 7:56 am

    I would tend to disagree. As you can plainly see in the above photo there is nothing whatsoever attractive about Jessica Alba.


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