Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Awake, and aware

Well, if you’re awake on the operating table, but paralyzed and immobilized, and you hear the surgeons talking about their plot to murder you – well, that sounds like the ultimate cliffhanger crisis. In fiction writing and particularly screenwriting, pundits always say to create the sharpest possible crisis to keep the audience from putting that book down or from going to the concession stand for teeth-cleaning popcorn with rancid melted butter. The situation that Clay Beresford (a very natty looking Hayden Christiansen) finds himself in certain fits the bill for the ultimate plot crisis.

I won’t spoil things too much here to say how rookie British writer (and director) Joby Harrold resolves the plot, other than to say what’s obvious: about the only way to get out of this mess is to go “out of body.” Maybe try a little astral projection. You need more than email and search engines to contact your loved ones: you need telepathy. If it could really happen, yes, the world would change. This idea has been tried before, as when Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) goes out of body after his accident+genes triggered heart failure in TheWB series “One Tree Hill.” I could add that a little remote viewing, the kind that the CIA supposedly teaches in a country estate near Charlottesville, VA could help, too.

The trouble with this new flick from MGM, The Weinstein Company and Greenestreet Films (the credits mention a lot of resources from London but carry the “made in NY” seal) is that Hayden looks way too healthy and robust to be believable as a heart transplant candidate, all the way from the shaggy legs drooping from the OR table to the upper arm definition. He looks like he belongs as another Krypton phantom on "Smallville". They do play games with his body all right in the OR (and a little bit before), although in the scenes that matter (with the telltale heart exposed – literally) the body is obviously a mannequin, attached to his head with CGI.

The medical issues is, of course, anesthesia awareness. I’ve been under the knife only once, for six hours, and lost all memory before reaching the operating room as the sedative started. They are supposed to give you a drug erasing memories of the operation. It’s as if this movie tells you why.

Hayden Christiansen is one of today’s most appealing young actors, but the characters he plays do “get it” sometimes. In the third Star Wars movie (Revenge of the Sith) as Anakin Skywaker his character gets burnt to a crisp and turned replaced by the robotic body that becomes Darth Vader. In "Shattered Glass", he plays a New Republic writer who succumbs to pressures and commits journalistic fraud.

But go see this movie to find out how the rich heir Clay Beresford saves himself (if he can).

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