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Awake (2007)
Rated R

Starring: Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, and Terrence Howard

Rating:
***
out of
*****

According to the opening titles of Awake, 30,000 out of the 21,000,000 people who go under general anesthesia on the operating table every year do not fall asleep and are actually able to feel what is happening to them. This happens to one of the main characters in Awake and I sat down to watch the film knowing this was a central part of the plot and I am not giving anything away by revealing it.

Hayden Christensen stars as Clay Beresford, a powerful and, by Hollywood's standards, shockingly ethical businessman, who has lived nearly his entire life in the shadow of his late father. Keeping him in that shadow is his mother, Lilith (Lena Olin), who is so controlling that Clay has to keep his romantic relationship with his assistant, Samantha (Jessica Alba), a secret. Samantha is struggling with the fact that she has been engaged to Clay for six months yet she cannot reveal her relationship with him.

After Clay suffers a heart attack, he is told by his doctor (Terrence Howard) that he requires a heart transplant and is put on the list for a donor heart. Clay's rare blood type makes finding a transplant difficult. After seeing the emotional turmoil that Samantha is enduring, Clay throws caution to the wind and decides to reveal the relationship to his mother. A few hours later, Clay and Sam are married in a small, hastily arranged service in the middle of the night. As luck would have it, a transplant is found as the couple consumates their marriage.

From this point on, it's not hard to figure out who goes under the knife in Awake. That fact still shouldn't ruin the fun of the script's highly improbable but still enjoyable roller coaster ride.

Christensen is not a particularly gifted actor but he's unusually likeable here -- mainly because Clay Beresford is not as whiny as most of the characters he is typically cast to play. Jessica Alba is an equally feeble thespian, but she's not particularly challenged by the material and does it justice. Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard is certainly above this type of role but does a great job with what little he has to work with.

If you're perusing the video rental store on a rainy weekend, you could certainly do worse than Awake. Just don't expect to remember the details of it more than a week after viewing it.

Trivia: Helen Mirren and Sigourney Weaver were both considered at one point to play Lilith Beresford before Lena Olin was cast. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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