Saturday, December 08, 2007

Awanakin

First off, let me get this out of the way so I don't need to come back to it. Hayden Christensen is brutal in Awake. Brutal. He's been in two things between this and Star Wars; there's a reason.

To get one other thing out of the way, one-and-a-half stars out of five.

Now, onto the review (which will contain spoilers):

For those of you that are concerned about seeing the movie because of the disturbing phenomenon of "anesthesia awareness", fear not! It's only used in this movie as a story-telling device! Hurray for capitalizing on recent events! There's one kinda disturbing scene where Christensen's character is being cut into, but it's nothing worse than what you'd see on TLC. It would appear that writer/director Joby Harold decided to make his big screen debut by clumsily trying to craft a story out of a phenomenon that has been getting fairly serious publicity, and...he failed.

The whole movie is only 78 minutes long (including opening and closing credits, so knock off about eight minutes), which probably accounts for the last 10 minutes of actual film being used to point out all the foreshadowing Harold used in the film; they needed to fill space.

Quick synopsis: Hayden Christensen's character has a heart problem (the actual condition is mentioned once in a murmur) and he needs a transplant. He wants his buddy, Terrence Howard, to be the surgeon; his mother (Lena Olin, who's actually pretty good in this), to whom Christensen is a little too close at a couple of points in the movie, wants family friend and ├╝ber-surgeon Arliss Howard to do the surgery. Hayden Christensen gets all whiny, says that despite T. Howard's four malpractice suits, he trusts him1, and wants him to do it.

On the romantic side, Hayden Christensen is shagging Jessica Alba. Early in the movie, you think he is keeping their relationship a secret because it's an affair; turns out mum's just a little protective. But, regardless, Alba and Christensen get married the same night that, miraculously, a donor heart is found. They all go in, Christensen gets wheeled into surgery where he doesn't fully go under; he is paralyzed, but he remains AWAKE.

This is where the movie takes its first turn. Christensen is somewhere between a millionaire and a billionaire in some sort of business (acquisitions and mergers are mentioned) and Dr. Malpractice has come up with a fiendish plot to have Christensen die on the table. Not sure why? Enter Jessica Alba's character - Sam Lockwood, or should we say, Sam Tunnell2, her real name and the name under which she worked at the hospital at which Christensen is currently "awake". Buh buh buh-buh-buh BUH! She and Christensen just got married, so if he kicks, she gets the dough. There's also maybe something between her and Howard, but you can't be too sure.

Christensen runs around trying to stop his murder, he finds out how his dad really dies, Howard laments his decision to kill his good friend, Lena Olin somehow manages to break into Hayden Christensen's anesthesia awareness...I don't know...daydream, I guess...and all the while, the revelations of the foreshadowing are rolling without mercy to the audience.

This is a fairly skilled group of actors (with the obvious exception), but it's like they let this first time director have his way with them. The emotions are badly screwed up, the dialogue is fairly stilted, and the plot is seriously incomplete; you don't really know why anyone does anything, except that it might have something to do with money.

1 - I highly doubt a surgeon would want to operate on a good friend
2 - Alba explains to Howard that they are in the clear and no one suspects a thing, especially after she changed her name. Jesus Backflipping Christ, are you serious?

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