AWAKE would be better named 'audience wake up' as the minimal novel idea of the story loses credibility so quickly that the development of the subplots become increasingly tedious and silly. Joby Harold both wrote and directed this film and despite the presence of some fine actors, the film remains grounded.
Clay Beresford (Hayden Christensen) has inherited his dead father's multi-billion dollar fortune and shares the wealth and control of his empire with his domineering mother Lilith (Lena Olin). Clay apparently has a genetically determined cardiac pathology, is medicated, and awaits a heart transplant. The only semblance of honest life Clay has is his love for his mother's secretary Sam (Jessica Alba) who, despite Lilith's objections, marries Clay after disclosing their relationship. Clay's beeper warning that a cardiac donor is available cuts short their night of honeymoon and Clay is rushed to the hospital to his constant friend, Dr. Jack Harper (Terrence Howard), who just happens to be a heart transplant surgeon and who Clay prefers over Dr. Neyer (Arliss Howard), the superior cardiac surgeon friend of his mother who has been the designated surgeon all along. The gimmick of the film is 'anesthetic awareness', a state of anesthesia when the patient is paralyzed but aware of the talk in the OR as well as the pain of the surgery. What Clay hears 'under anesthesia is a ridiculous, convoluted plot involving all the people he thought he could trust and about which he can do nothing: in order to keep the storyline rolling, the script gives him an out of body experience so that Clay can be his own detective in solving the myriad discrepancies of his situation. The ending is very predicable and begs viewer indulgence.
Perhaps the credibility of this story would have been better if the director and actors had paid more attention to OR technique: walking into an OR in street clothes, handling patients without gloves or masks, allowing outsiders to enter the OR during a transplant procedure, beginning surgery without documentation of complete anesthesia or before the donor heart arrives, etc. etc. etc. are such breaches of surgical rules that even the casual viewer of TV medical dramas knows. But the real problem with the script is that we are left caring very little for any of the characters, despite the fact the roles are assigned to some heavy hitters! Sadly, the movie is just silly. Grady Harp, March 08