Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Awake Movie Poster Image
Silly surgery thriller is bloody, convoluted.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Scheming, careless doctors; anesthesiologist drinks on the job; an accidental murder appears in a flashback; mother and son relationship at first seems too intimate and codependent.


Much bloody and yucky imagery related to surgery. Incisions show blood, organs, and internal goo; operation shows rib separator, cuts into heart; bloody surgeons' gloves. As Clay is "anesthetically aware" during surgery, he yells, screams, and expresses much pain. Clay and Lilith discuss his memories of his father's death. A character is hit with a fireplace poker; the body falls over a balcony, and there's a shot of the crumpled corpse on the floor three stories below. Suicide by pill overdose (body shown). When the cops arrest a woman, they smash her face against the floor.


Clayton appears in bathtub, then pulls Sam in with him (they engage in "sexy" talk during the seduction, such as "I was picturing you soaking wet with all your clothes on"). They kiss and embrace passionately before the scene cuts (sex is implied). They stand side by side in front of a mirror, naked; she's brushing her teeth, and the outline of her naked breast is visible. Several scenes show passionate kissing between the two, and at least one other scene shows the side of her breast. She appears in her bra and underwear beneath Clay as they kiss, preparing for sex -- but the scene cuts away before they get all their clothes off.


Many uses of "f--k" and "s--t" (some with "bull"); other language includes "hell," "ass," "damn," and "son of a bitch."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of prescription pills are taken and shown in bottles (Clay has a heart condition). Minor cigarette smoking. Drinking and toasting (one hallucination includes a room full of schoolboys lifting wine glasses in a toast). An anesthesiologist drinks from a flask during surgery. A drunken character snorts cocaine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that even though this grim thriller stars teen favorites Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba, it isn't meant for kids. There are many scenes of bloody open-heart surgery, with some explicit sound effects (cutting, sawing, ribcage cracking). Because Clay is conscious and feels pain during the surgery, there are some gruesome parts in which he internally screams, swears, and makes noises; it's essentially grisly torture (not unlike what passes for plot in the Saw movies). There are several kissing scenes, two of which lead to sex (though more is implied than shown). Expect lots of prescription medication use, some smoking (and discussion of it being bad for you) and drinking, and many uses of both "f--k" and "s--t."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDanny21 February 25, 2016
Adult Written bychristian2011 December 30, 2012

Gives you a graphic look at the potential yet grisly complication known as Anesthesia Awareness.

Awake is a film that mostly showcases you the rare yet deadly risk of anesthesia awareness, which the patient is still awake throughout surgery but completely p... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bySaad1Khan November 16, 2014


Good but not for kids under the age of 17.Girls or boys aged 17 can watch it.
Teen, 15 years old Written byTotally500 April 19, 2012

awake is one of the worst movies ever

this movie sucks like it sucks hard rushed everything

What's the story?

At 22, successful Clay (Hayden Christensen) is touted as a brilliant, social-minded businessman who creates jobs, looks after properties, and is a good son to his doing mother, Lilith (Lena Olin). But as his best friend Jack (Terrence Howard) makes clear at the start of AWAKE, Clay is in trouble. One, he has a bad heart -- in fact, he needs a transplant. And, two, his surgeon is Jack, who starts the film by describing the pain he feels at losing Clay on the operating table. What happened? Despite the fact that his friend was facing four malpractice suits and Lilith disapproved, Clay was perversely determined to have Jack perform the surgery. And Lilith became even more upset when she learned that Clay had a secret girlfriend, Sam (Jessica Alba) -- with whom he has several bouts of lively sex during the movie, despite his much-remarked weakened "condition." But even with all these pressures weighing on him, Clay was upbeat as he was finally wheeled into the operating room, imagining that he'd wake up on the other side with a new life. Or not.

Is it any good?

The gimmicky premise of Awake is the fact that one in 700 patients experience what's called "anesthetic awareness" during surgery. They feel every cut, every rib crack, and every stitch during surgery, but are paralyzed and unable to communicate the agony. Ouch. But this pain, uncomfortable as it is, has nothing on the pain of the movie's increasingly convoluted and contrived plot.

First of all, Clay's unfortunate condition is discovered by an out-of-body version of himself, who proceeds to run around the hospital in scrubs (why is never explained, as he lies on the table in a hospital gown), yelling at various relatives and doctors in an effort to get them to see that he's "awake." What's more, there are so many betrayals by so many characters that it's hard to care much about what happens to them -- unless you worry about the careers of folks like Howard and Olin, who outclass this silly material in every imaginable way. By the time Lilith has to explain to Sam how she can "feel" something is wrong in the operating room ("He's not just my son: we grew up together"), you've got the feeling that something is indeed very wrong -- with this film.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes a movie a thriller. Do you think this qualifies? Why? What characteristics do most thrillers have in common? Families can also discuss what -- if anything -- the characters in the movie learn. How would you describe the movie's version of morality? Are the characters' sacrifices worth it?

Movie details

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