Awake (R)

Suspense/Thriller 78 November 30, 2007
By Jim Ridley
A medical thriller with a noggin full of Novocain, this shocker about botched heart surgery suffers brain surgery to match. Think of writer-director Joby Harold’s autopsy-turvy tale as The Death of Mr. Lazarescu with a high-concept lobotomy — instead of some wheezy old Romanian dude descending the lower-depths of health-care hell, we get doe-eyed Hayden Christensen as the world’s most naïve billionaire and unlikely heart-transplant candidate, whose troubles begin when "anesthesia awareness" leaves him conscious but paralyzed and unable to scream as doc Terrence Howard revs up the ol' bone saw. That would be contrivance enough for most thrillers, but factor in blushing bride Jessica Alba, suspicious mom Lena Olin, and sinister cardio czar Arliss Howard — not to mention astral projection, supernatural visits, repressed memories, and not one but two pivotal heart transplants — and you've got a movie that sucks more than it inhales. Harold's glum overplotting squashes the sick humor and the innate fear of hospitals that gives the premise what kick it has; not even Craig McKay's clever editing can defibrillate the preposterous ending. Even at 78 minutes, this definitely communicates a sense of anesthesia awareness — at least to your ass.
Joby Harold Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, Terrence Howard, Steven Hinkle, Jennifer Pedersen, Poorna Jagannathan, Sam Robards, Court Young, Stewart Summers Joby Harold Jason Kilot, John Penotti, Joana Vicente MGM

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