If Shekhar Suman’s film Heartless did anything good apart from borrowing from an interesting Hollywood film then that was to wake me up to this hidden gem. Ignored by many a critic but held aloft by Roger Ebert who sighted it as a glowing example of intriguing cinema, Awake truly is wonderful entertainment. The film in its micro mini run time of 1 hour 24 minutes makes such an impact on its audience that they are glued to their respective couches with their senses immersed in the narrative. The novel story and the wonderful acting by all principle cast members makes it one hell of a watch.
Clay (Hayden Christensen) is a Multi-Millionaire with a bossy but loving mother, a loving fiancée, Sam(Jessica Alba) who he is truly afraid to reveal to his mother and a surgeon friend, Jack(Terrence Howard) who is soon to operate him for a heart condition which needs a heart transplant. While undergoing the surgery Clay faces a situation wherein, his anesthesia fails and he is left in his full senses with his body paralyzed. If that was a shock, Clay soon starts realizing that the surgery he was undergoing could mean the end of his life as he gets one shock after another resulting in some stunning situations which will leave you out of breath.
As the story moves forward peeling layer after layer from the narrative, it becomes evident that none of the characters are truly what they resemble and each of them have their own hidden agenda which is entangled in some way or the other with Clay’s condition and surgery. His mother Lena Olin must now uncover the plot and fight tooth and nails to save her son from the clasps of the marauders who are almost done killing her son. It would be criminal to write another word about the film as it would be exposing plot details and thus spoiling the fun for all those who might watch this film after reading this review.
Apart from the out of the box story, the film is given an added dimension by the wonderful acting of the principal cast members. Hayden Christensen was never known for much acting but here he essays a complicated character with command and authority leaving no room to wince. Terrence Howard is his usual calm and cool self and essays the role of Jack with utmost authority. Watch out for the sequence where he has double mind about the procedure and also the one in which he gives Clay a walk through about what is to happen in the operation, the following day. Jessica Alba is however the real revelation. She has a duality to her character and essays it to the ‘t’. I just loved her role. Lena Olin as Clay’s authoritative yet loving mother is perfect.
Overall awake is a novel thriller which has added a dimension to the physiological thriller with some wonderfully constructed set pieces and a little help from medical science. It will be easy on the understanding levels and yet provide enough entertainment and aesthetic satisfaction to rate among the better thrillers of our time. It may not be the best thing on the block, but it sure is worth at least a couple of watches.