Trying its darnedest to be Netflix’s next Bird Box, Awake simply doesn’t have the stamina.

After a freak incident, the world is faced with a psychological and life-threatening stalemate – no one can fall asleep.  As people slowly undergo their depraved descent into madness, intrepid mother Jill (Gina Rodriguez) figures out her daughter Matilda (Ariana Greenblatt) has the ability to sleep.  Along with help from her son Noah (Lucius Hoyos), Jill fights to protect Matilda in hopes that her family can contribute to saving humanity.

I understand that synopsis is broad but, then again, so is Awake.  This wishy-washy thriller simply doesn’t have enough confidence.  Directed by Mark Raso, the film coasts on the same low energy the filmmaker exhibited in his previous dramas Copenhagen and Kodachrome.  While this approach received an indifferent pass from me because it somewhat worked on an unchallenging level to focus on simple personal connections, it’s a wrongheaded decision for Awake which relies on taut suspense to establish desperate characters and set the stakes for its disaster-bordering-on-an-apocalypse scenario.  Much like most of the sleepy characters in this movie, Awake groggily shuffles to the finish line without much of an enthusiastic connection to its material or final reveal.  This is a boring movie, and everyone making the movie seems like they know it.

The only bursts of excitement stem from Raso’s attempts to recreate the action sequences from Children of Men, which does provide the audience with some really gritty and cool revolving shots from inside vehicles.  These scenes may be minor rip-offs, but they’re also gasps of inspiration that viewers want to see more of.  It isn’t enough to save Awake, but it makes me optimistic that Mark Raso can bounce back.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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