Plot twists are around every corner in the crime thriller Awake that definitely kept me guessing until the very end. The first half of Awake leans heavily into a slightly predictable plot line, but is accompanied with such a sinister overtone of suspense, it kept me wondering if I really solved the mystery. This review will have minor spoilers, but reveals nothing vital to the plot.
Battling a case of amnesia, damning evidence, and heavy pursuit from two seemingly tunnel-visioned officers for the murders of five women, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’ John Doe realizes he must piece together the truth of his past for himself. Despite hearing the evidence against John, his hospital nurse Diana remains convinced of his innocence and helps him evade arrest as they search for answers.
Rhys-Meyers gives an excellent performance that toes the line of whether Doe is guilty or innocent. His behaviors point in one direction while his flashbacks point in another, and Rhys-Meyers executes the subtle changes in the character perfectly. While Rhys-Meyers delivers a convincing performance as the amnesia suffering John Doe, I found myself pulled from the story at times by the lack of emotion from Diana. Played by Francesca Eastwood, there were moments when her performance felt a bit underwhelming for the high stakes circumstances in which Diana found herself again and again. Her motives for her reactions are revealed later, so perhaps it is her history as an ER nurse that lends her a sense of calm in the face of danger. It isn’t until her actions result in a devastating incident that she finally shows some of the emotional depths I was expecting early on.
In contrast to John Doe and Diana’s hunt for the truth are the scenes with the pursuing officers Frank Ward (Malik Yoba) and Roger Bower (William Forsythe), who remain convinced of John Doe’s guilt regarding the murders. They remain hot on his trail and give insights into the crime scene details, adding to both the gravitas of the situation and my own mental tally of whether Doe is guilty or innocent. Ward is certainly the stereotypical bulldog detective in hot pursuit of his escaped prisoner, and his obvious alcoholism left me wondering whether I should really be trusting the “good guys,” no doubt the intention behind the action.
I don’t want to give anything away for those planning to watch the movie, but I will say that everything is not as it seems in this story that picks up momentum quickly in the second half. The twists and turns of the story left me slightly whiplashed as the clues culminate in a tension-filled ending when at last, all is revealed. From start to finish, I was guessing (mostly getting things wrong), and thanks to the shocking ending, I just might have to watch it again.
Awake will be available on Digital/VOD August 16. Check it out and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!