Hayden Christensen lies on an operating table, fully aware of what is happening around him. He is in a state of anesthetic awareness, able to feel everything and hear conversations, but paralyzed. It is a creepy and excruciating thing to watch as doctors rip open his chest cavity. Narration from Christensen makes it tougher to watch.
All of that is a unique way to showcase Awake, although when you think about it, it is all for naught. Since Christensen’s character is paralyzed, nothing he says has any real purpose. He becomes the eyes and ears for the audience, but is unable to save himself. He cannot influence other characters, such as his mother, who can and will do something about the situation.
Trailers sadly reveal critical plot points. His doctor plans on killing the young business mogul for the money while performing a heart transplant, and the thrills come from the people involved in the plot. Unfortunately, the film’s major twist needs to happen early, leaving the ending flat and without punch. Justice never feels served, and a prologue seems necessary.
As with any complex plot, Awake is filled with holes and logic gaps, such as letting the guilty party leave the operating room without detaining them. The entire plan to take Christensen’s money is far more complicated than it needs to be, and a simpler solution is available.
Awake does feature some wonderful direction from Joby Harold, especially near the end as Christensen slowly nears death. The images in his mind are wonderfully photographed. Apparently, the same amount of thought wasn’t put into this story.
Awake is an initially stunning AVC encode. Contrast is bright without running hot (aside from intentionally dream sequences), blacks are able to create convincing depth, and sharpness is excellent. Facial detail is superb. Shadow delineation is wonderful.
Things partially crumble due to some edge enhancement around the eight-minute mark, noise not obscured by the blacks in the opening text, and some noise on various walls during the film.
An uncompressed TrueHD mix does offer some impressive moments, particularly as voices bring swirling around the sound field during the surgery. The stereo channels are used to great effect for positional dialogue. A party sequence offers light ambiance, and fidelity is perfect, as it should be for any modern film.
A solo commentary by writer/director Joby Harold is continued over seven deleted scenes that run close to 10 minutes. Under the Knife and Behind the Camera is a 13 minute promo featurette. A storyboard comparison and trailers remain.