It has been the subject of many reports on "Dateline NBC" and other such news shows. Every year, there are people who wake up after being put under anesthesia. "Awake"'s opening credits offer up the fact that this impacts about 1 out of 700 people who undergo general anesthesia. The movie focuses on Clay (Hayden Christensen), a young, high-powered executive son of a billionaire father (Sam Robards). He lives with his mother (Lena Olin) and is in the midst of becoming engaged to Samantha (Jessica Alba).
However, Clay has found out that he has a serious heart problem, who he consults about with his friend, Dr. Jack Harper (Terrence Howard). Jack tells him he should marry Samantha, and on the night he does, he calls him to inform him that he has a heart transplant ready to go. He has already been prepared for the surgery by Jack and arrives at the hospital ready to go. However, once the operation actually gets underway, he realizes that the anesthesia hasn't entirely worked, and he's not entirely out - he can hear what's going on, and he's surprised to hear what he's hearing from those who he believed were his friends.
Unable to communicate, he tries to escape into flashbacks and hallucinations in order to escape, but when overhears the doctors talking and saying what he'd least expected, he tries to figure out some way out. Meanwhile, Sam starts trying to check on Clay and yet...who's side is Sam on? The movie does start to layer on ridiculous and unexpected layers, but I didn't go into this not expecting some absurd plot twists. The bigger problem is the fact that the movie doesn't feel like much of a movie, running at only a mere 68 minutes + credits. The movie was apparently on the shelf for a couple of years, and I'm guessing that a few people took their attempt at trying to edit it during that time.
One other problem - and a more distressing one - is the acting. Christensen has managed one really good performance in "Shattered Glass", but otherwise he's offered one wooden effort after another and his one is no different. Jessica Alba isn't going to win any awards later, but at least she manages to offer a somewhat more interesting performance than in the past. Olin offers a good supporting effort, and Howard has fared better in other films.
Overall, the movie is a decent attempt and takes an interesting idea and just never quite gets a handle on how to fully develop it. The performances are a bigger issue, though - one wonders what George Lucas saw in Christensen and while I will give the actor credit for "Shattered Glass", his performance here is just drab and bland.
VIDEO: "Awake" is presented by Genius Products/Weinstein Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality was fine, if not exceptional. Sharpness and detail remained a bit iffy at times, as the picture looked either moderately crisp or somewhat soft. Some mild edge enhancement could be seen at times, as well as a few traces of artifacting. Colors are intentionally subdued, but appeared accurately presented, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.l presentation wasn't showy, but was generally fine. Audio quality was terrific, with clear dialogue and crisp music. Surround activity is limited to minor ambience and reinforcement of the music.
EXTRAS: Commentary with writer/director Joby Harold, deleted scenes (with optional commentary), "Making-of" documentary, "Storyboard-to-Film" comparison and trailer.
Final Thoughts:Overall, the movie is a decent attempt and takes an interesting idea and just never quite gets a handle on how to fully develop it. The performances are a bigger issue, though. The DVD presentation offers good audio/video quality and a few extras. Those interested should try this one on as a rental only.
The Film C