Movie Review: Awake (2021)

A Netflix original film released in 2021, Awake is a sci-fi/thriller directed by Mark Raso. After a mysterious event leaves the world unable to sleep, Jill Adams (Gina Rodriguez) and her children, angsty teen Noah (Lucius Hoyos) and young Matilda (Ariana Greeblatt) must avoid the other civilians, especially when it is discovered that Matilda can still sleep. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Frances Fisher, Barry Pepper, Finn Jones and Shamier Anderson also star.

+ generally speaking, films about characters dying/disappearing/becoming zombies/comatose/”rage viruses” etc. are rote and cliched at this point, so the idea of a world unable to sleep (and slowly going insane because of that) was a nice twist on the formula. The execution is not good, but the idea is interesting

– the film has a good cast that all feel wasted. Rodriguez, Jones and especially Jason Leigh are all great actors when given the right material but are never given a chance to shine. Barry Pepper steals an early scene as a church pastor… and then is never seen again. What’s the point of introducing these characters, and giving them motivations, if they are not seen again?
– the timeline or ‘rules’ of sleep deprivation are either wildly inconsistent for each person, or very poorly portrayed. We’re told that after 48 hours there will be a loss of critical thinking, but some characters seem to resort to murder after a single night of no sleep. Either there is a huge time gap not shown or mentioned in the film, or this whole town is full of psychopaths, sleep or no sleep. More baffling is that the army seems to roll on through after barely a single night of not being able to sleep as if this is something they have long planned for
– everyone being tired seemed like an excuse to have the actors mumble their lines and stumble around the scene which was just awkward and frustrating more than anything. This is especially apparent towards the end of the film as, obviously, people haven’t slept for so long. Thank gosh I had subtitles turned on
– tying into my point about Pepper’s church pastor above, a few more interesting plot threads are dangled and teased, but simply never played out. I have so many questions that are not only left unanswered, but seemingly not even worth my time thinking about because the writers of the film didn’t think about them either

Should you see this film: This was not a confusing movie, nor was it a bad-enough-that-you-have-to-see-it movie. This was just bland, and in a way that’s even worse. I was looking forward to this after the first trailer, and I feel like I’ve wasted my time.

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