Awake starts off great with a smashing car accident that pulls the audience into the story. The mom and brother were thrown into a small lake with the daughter, Matilda, but they escaped unscathed. When Matilda gets brought back to life, I knew something interesting was about to happen. Unfortunately it went all down hill from there.
I’ll be the first to admit that Gina Rodriguez gave a spectacular performance as Jill, a loving mother trying to work her way back to her children while fighting recovery from a drug addiction. Besides that, I’m sad to say the movie was quite a waste. It took me two sittings before I could finish it completely, which was a pity because it had so much potential. This concept could have been portrayed much better. Not to mention, out of the majority of white people to surround Jill and her son Noah (Lucius Hoyos) at the library, a black man, Dodge, comes to save Jill and her children. He gets miraculously freed from prison and his first choice is to come to another family’s rescue. Where was Dodge’s (Shamier Anderson) family?
There is nothing wrong with compassion, and I truly love the effort, but that is extremely unlikely. Naysayers will say that he was crazy and experiencing his own effects as well. But I ask, was he also crazy when he basically forced himself into their “family?” Or when he gave her back an empty gun saying, “I think you should hold on to that, you look pretty mean, pointing it at people.” As if a dark skinned black man, wearing a palm tree and flamingo shirt doesn’t? It’s laughable at how badly this film is trying to get the audience to see something that just isn’t there.
Let’s talk about how Jill got into a supposedly highly guarded health center. How did Jill hear those highly trained guards say the password to one another while she was a great distance away? Actually, why were they discussing the password out loud in the first place? One guard even mentioned that he wrote down a top secret password in order to remember it, and coincidently remembering was the one steady thing this entire film. Jill’s continued practice with her memory was a foreshadowing of her using that ability at a time of need. That facility allowed people who can not even remember a four digit combination the power to operate machine guns? They were mad, clearly. It sounds like protestors for anti-gun control actually have a leg to stand on in the real world, because the concept sounds a little too close to home for it to be just fiction.
It seemed to me that some favoritism was going on there. I was very confused as to why she was only showing Matilda how to survive in the new world. As I dredged through more of the movie, my senses were proven correct. Not only did she let Noah–who can’t really do much of anything useful–be alone with an unknown prisoner, she didn’t actually make any attempt to get any protection until they came back. One can only assume it was to protect the prodigal child, Matilda. I saw Jill teach her daughter how to siphon gas out of a car and how to shoot a gun, and it hit me. Jill is taking on an extremely masculine role. Since her husband died, she has had to provide for her family in more ways than one. Even though she may have been forced into this role, it doesn’t change the fact that the dynamics have been reversed.
Noah (Lucius Hoyos) didn’t even seem the least bit interested to learn anything to help protect or provide for his family, preferring to write down instructions in the library instead. Boys his age and younger went into the civil war and killed for their family. Surely, he could have picked up a little bit more responsibility before and after everyone lost the ability to sleep. I know we all have a fight or flight reflex, but come on. Jill only enabled this behavior. He was old enough to be alone with a potentially dangerous criminal, who could have wanted the exact same thing the first prisoner wanted, but for some reason she negated the act of teaching him how to shoot a gun. Time was running out, so maybe it was a sacrifice she was forced to make. It was clear that this was Jill and Matilda’s story from the beginning, and Noah was just along for the ride.
When Jill pointed the gun at an escaped prisoner, then started directing Noah on what to do, the poor boy couldn’t even respond. All those prisoners could have easily overpowered them, but that wouldn’t make for a good ending, would it? On top of that, when Jill shoots the gun as a warning, she then makes a somewhat big spectacle of that having been her last bullet. She tells Noah to run, and he still stood frozen and scared. There is nothing wrong with being scared, but it was in that moment that Noah should have turned into a man. Instead he stayed a child the entire movie, hiding behind his mother, and crying to her to make it all better.
At least Jill, the “bad ass” mom knew what she was doing. Unfortunately, she messed up again by trying to save the prisoner’s life who was threatening to do vile things to her son. She should have aimed the gun a little higher up, if not only just to say, “hey don’t fuck with me and my kid!” Always the noble mother. But how did that really turn out? In order to experience life, they all had to die in the end. Could it be possible that that was the entire point of the whole?
This film was filled with great plot points. Unfortunately, they all contradicted each other and clashed. Had the premise of Awake been more consistent and accurately portrayed the real world aspect, I think this could have been an extreme success.
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