Awake **

With Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, Terrence Howard, Lena Olin, Fisher Stevens. Distributed by the Weinstein Co. 1 hour, 18 mins.


(profanity, disturbing situation). Playing at area theaters.


is a thriller about a billionaire who overhears a plot against him while under anesthesia.

Hayden Christensen is the billionaire. He's eager to get a heart transplant because, well, he has Jessica Alba to wake up to.

Wait a minute. He has a bad heart, and he's with Jessica Alba? You see the problem here.

This is a medical thriller that packs an awful lot of plot and plotting into a compact 78 minutes.

Who's out to kill poor Clayton Beresford? Is it the Japanese mob-connected corporate sharks who want to merge with the company his dad founded? Is it his possessive mom (Lena Olin)? Greedy surgeons?

Not to worry. Beresford's surgeon (Terrence Howard) is his pal, the guy who takes him fishing on the banks of the East River. And again, there's Alba, the hottie he's been bedding and hiding from his mom, to nurse him back to health.

Christensen, who hasn't shed that Bob Dylan voice he showed off in

Factory Girl

, is a man suffering from "anesthesia awareness." He's put under by a tipsy anesthesiologist (Christopher McDonald), so he feels everything.

Chest shaved and cut, ribs spread.

Much of writer-director Joby Harold's film has Christensen voicing-over the graphic heart transplant, trying to piece together the puzzle presented by what he overhears, ruminating over flashbacks, hunting for clues as to who or what is behind this scheme.

There are good scenes and clever bits of dialogue ("Here, you wanna plant that?" is how Howard handles the new heart) mixed in with lots of Screenwriting 101 blunders. Characters recite the resumes of each other to "prove" they know who they are, a trite scripting short cut.

The bigger problem is Christensen, who has had a most uneven career since

Star Wars

, nailing the occasional

Shattered Glass


Factory Girl,

but often in over his head, as he is here.

And by the time somebody blurts out, as they always do in these dramas, "We're losing him," the movie loses us.



isn't a snooze fest, it's nobody's idea of a sleeper, either.

- Roger Moore
The Orlando Sentinel