Surprising, really, that "anesthetic awareness" -- helpless, immobile and, it should be noted, very rare consciousness during surgery -- hasn't been explored in a thriller before. Or maybe it has and I don't remember; that would explain why Awake sounds so novel but feels so familiar. In Joby Harold's film, young millionaire Clay Beresford (Hayden Christensen) is undergoing a risky heart transplant operation when he realizes the anesthetic isn't working as it should -- he is completely and silently paralyzed, but continues to hear and feel everything around him. If the movie wanted to top itself, it could find a way for Christensen to transfer immediately from anesthetic awareness into catalepsy, and maybe knock off Poe's "Premature Burial." Unfortunately and despite its killer gimmick, Awake isn't consumed with that kind of B-movie zeal.
Clay, like so many men before him, tries to block out the pain by intense concentration on thoughts of Jessica Alba (playing his girlfriend Sam -- though oddly enough, Clay's strongest memories reveal nothing more explicit than Alba's demurely exposed back). His focus breaks down when he overhears some, shall we say, less than reassuring words from his doctors, and from there a trapped Clay races against time, desperately attempting to alert Sam and/or his possessive mother (Lena Olin) of the danger he's in.
Continue reading: Awake Review