I'm proud to say that I not only stayed awake during Awake, I even found myself on the edge of my seat a couple of times. The movie was withheld from critics, which is always a bad sign, and when they finally did get their hands on it, they took out their scalpels and started carving away. But having recently learned that I myself have a heart condition, I was especially susceptible to a story about a guy who, unbeknownst to the doctors operating on him, is fully awake, albeit paralyzed, during open-heart surgery. Actually, it gets worse: The doctors operating on him may be botching the operation on purpose in order to inherit the guy's fortune. Why would they stand to inherit his fortune? Well, it's complicated.
And so is the movie - too complicated for its own good. But it plays on one of our deepest fears, being cut open, and heightens that fear nicely. Oh, and it stars Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba, both of them drop-dead gorgeous. Christensen is Clayton Beresford, a budding Master of the Universe with a bum ticker, and Alba is his mom's secretary, whom he's fallen in love with but can't bring himself to tell his mom (Lena Olin) about, since Masters of the Universe aren't supposed to fall in love with their moms' secretaries. Then again, who could blame him? Alba, with her hair swept up into a Tippi Hedren bun, makes Angelina Jolie look like Jennifer Aniston. And her acting isn't stinking up the joint, for once.
Christensen's is, alas, but he spends a lot of the movie flat on his back, his chest wedged open to reveal his telltale heart. Not that writer-director Joby Harold doesn't cook up some less-than-ingenious ways to get him off the operating table. A victim of something called anesthetic awareness, Christensen's Clay feels everything that's happening to him, he just can't do anything about it. But when the pain gets to be too much, he has this out-of-body experience that allows him to wander all over the hospital, not to mention New York City, looking for clues to his unfolding murder. And there are lots of suspects, a veritable school of red herrings. But if watching someone play Clue on the surgery channel is your idea of a good time....
Eastgate, Point, Star