Awake

The latest Netflix release feels like a worse version of a dozen different movies I’ve seen. A charming lead can’t save the movie from the films clunky and awkward execution.

The film opens with Jill Adams played by the lovely Gina Rodriguez, as she finishes up her shift and steals some prescription drugs which she sells to the most generic drug dealer type in movies. She goes to see her kids who are living with their grandma and take them to school. On the way something happens that takes out the power all over the world. Their car dies and gets hit by another vehicle. They tumble into the lake.

The movie has its one effective scene here where we are put inside the car and feel the claustrophobic dread as the car sinks.

That night they discover that no one in the world can sleep. The world instantly descends into chaos and self destruction. The movie hurries itself through the usual end of the world tropes. Religious zealotry, rioting in the streets, military action, and the scientists desperately trying to save humanity.

What works? Not much. Even the decent elements are undone by terrible direction and awful writing.

There’s a scene in which a group of characters are yelling at each other and someone walks up behind another character and shoots him in the back of the head. It’s filmed in the most clumsy way possible. There’s no build up. There’s no tension. The characters start yelling. They continue yelling. Bang! Then we move on. If it was an intentional choice to film it so awkwardly, I don’t know what they were going for. If it was a mistake, and they just didn’t get enough angles, I’d understand. But serious it’s just bad regardless.

A problem I have is that the movie is in such a hurry to hit all the apocalypse high notes. We rush from the event to people losing their minds almost instantly. The pacing feels like they’re trying to get the movie over with as quickly as possible.

The real story here is that of a mother with a troubled past earning the respect and love of her kids through the crucible of extreme circumstances. This should work because it’s works a million times before. Abad parent becomes a good parent amidst an alien invasion, plague, or war is a well worn trope. I don’t buy it here because Gina Rodriguez doesn’t look old enough to have two kids. Her teenage son looks roughly her age. She has no chemistry or relationship with the kids from beginning to end. They feel like perfect strangers throughout, so when they cry out for her in the end I don’t believe it for a second.

I really like Gina Rodriguez, and I wanted to like her here, but she’s just lost in this mess. She does her best, but you can’t save a sinking ship through willpower alone.

This is a paint by numbers movie that never amounts to much. I checked it out sight unseen because I’ve had good luck with Netflix’s recent releases, but yikes this one was a dud.

Not my cup of tea. Skip it! D

One last complaint, this film features Finn Jones. He’s terrible. I’ve never seen him give a halfway decent performance. He always looks painfully uncomfortable on screen. He delivers all his lines like he’s confused by them. Terrible.

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