If you haven’t already seen a movie that so badly wants to be an inferior version of The Last Of Us both in presentation and in context, then I implore you…..look no further than “Awake” because that’s exactly what it is: a mish-mash conglomerate of already menial ideas that drowns in its own ocean of indifference.
As far as praise goes, I’m not too keen on making them known since they matter so little and don’t change much of what’s seen here but why the hell not?
For all of the films shortcomings, it does delve into typical human instinct and nature on how we switch gears when it comes to violence in times of a crisis and the deteriorating acuity of a former Solider fighting to cling to her sanity amidst an ongoing PTSD-induced meltdown. The latter of the two is where I feel the movie does a mildly better job at because similar to Sylvester Stallone as Rambo, Gina Rodriguez as Jill is emotionally resonant and unhinged the longer the film progresses to try and sell the believability of someone losing her mind.
There’s just enough strangeness to lock the less-seasoned filmgoers in a sense of dread and paranoia with enough passable cinematography to boot, and outside of Gina, Ariana Greenblatt is the only other standout in this thing given the limited material she had to work with.
Alas, I was actively struggling with the rest of it. Time is never depicted or shown in any consistent manner, pacing is either stupidly fast or erratically slow further coupled by low-energy suspense, the music is absolutely nothing to write home about, production design is hardly utilized to any significant effect, it goes about the familiar post-apocalyptic road trip formula we’ve seen as sloppily as possible, most of the cast look completely confused, phoned or bored out of their skulls and it doesn’t help that every ‘character’ here is as dumb as soup.
Multiple ideas and concepts here are pulled from Bird Box, Children of Men, The Last Of Us and even the Bible in an attempt to coat the structure of this story with a thick layer of sewage water as some kind of substitute for a narrative: it didn’t work. There are no characters, nobody goes through any development or depth, there might as well be no villain, and the world they inhabit makes next to zero sense. All of which is made worse by the fact that it’s accompanied by a very pedestrian script with a lot of nothing dialogue. And like I’ve said before, clever movies that tread on rather pedestrian plots without adjusting to the discourse that helps it work to begin with is an opportunity well and truly wasted.
But I don’t know if I would consider the screenplay or the direction worse: Mark Raso was either clearly limited in the resources he had to tell the story he wanted to or he just didn’t know how to expand the story beyond the bare-boned premise we saw…..and the vast amounts of nothing happening in-between only shows how poorly directed it was. The story itself doesn’t know what it wants to be and therefore, it has no presentable lockdown on how we, the people, are supposed to watch it as.
The lack of research behind this super-insomnia and an explanation to this concept also makes the overabundant manifestation of these many plot holes and the cop-out ending that much more frustrating. You shouldn’t harbor on about how we’ll die from a lack of sleep if you don’t ACTUALLY convey the actual symptoms or how it gets resolved.
Similar to Chaos Walking, the longer the film droned on, the more bored and restless I became and that’s always the wrong impression to give out to your audience. Interesting premise aside, it unfortunately doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things on what you intend to do: if it’s boring, you lost me.