A random group of people wake up on an Island where they are being hunted down in a sinister plot to harvest their organs.
Movies about human organs for trade are nothing new, they have been around for years with such films as “Coma,” “Turistas” and “Train.” With “Awaken,” we are given another tale about human trafficking but as the poster for the movie promises, with a shot of a beautiful but determined young woman, “This time they took the wrong girl!” This led me to believe that I was going to witness a new Ronda Rousey or Gina Carano kicking some major butt. Alas, that was not meant to be. We are introduced to a small group of people who, come to find out, all wind up together on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere, with no recollection or memory as to how they got there. One of the last things they do remember, is going to a bar for a drink and then passing out. We later discover that this island is situated off the coast of Mexico so immediately, that sets off warning bells.
Billie Kope (Natalie Burn), is searching for her sister Kat (Christa Campbell), who has disappeared and was last seen in Mexico. After showing her photo around and asking about her in a sleazy bar, one man informs her to leave before it’s too late but no sooner has she vacated the place than a group of guys attack her. She manages to beat them up but just when she thinks she’s in the clear, she’s knocked out and wakes up on a seemingly deserted island. Here, she meets a ragtag bunch of people who, like her, are all in the same situation and have no idea as to why they’re here. In no time, a small platoon of soldiers appear out of nowhere and give chase. After evading them, the group’s leader, Quentin (Robert Davi) informs Billie that every so often the soldiers appear, grab one of their group and they are never seen again.
As Billie settles in with the group, she notices an island in the distance and is determined to get to it. After building a makeshift raft, the remaining group make their way out to sea and when they reach the island they are quickly beaten into submission by the soldiers and returned to the island. Not one to give up easily, Billie formulates a plan for when the soldiers next arrive where they are able to overpower them and take their speedboat. Once back on the island, they discover that each of them have become unwilling participants in a scheme to harvest their organs and decide that if they are going to go down, they are going to go down fighting. To be honest, the story isn’t half bad, it’s in the film’s execution where it all falls flat. The movie boasts a terrific lineup of B-list actors from the eighties and nineties.
We have Daryl Hannah (“Blade Runner”), Edward Furlong (“Terminator 2: Judgment Day”), Jason London (“Dazed and Confused”), Michael Paré (“The Philadelphia Experiment”), David Keith (“Firestarter”), Robert Davi (“Die Hard”) and Vinnie Jones (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”). What really confounded me though, is that characters disappear throughout the movie without explanation. Edward Furlong makes a brief appearance in the beginning of the movie and then he’s gone. No mention is ever made of him again and halfway through the movie, Robert Davi informs the group he’s getting off the island by himself and then he too disappears. We’ve already been told there’s no boats anywhere so there’s no possibility of escape but sure enough, he’s gone. Then Daryl Hannah makes an appearance at the end and before you know it, she too vanishes.
I give the filmmakers kudos for being able to assemble a good cast of actors but with an apparent lack of story development and character exposition, it makes you wonder if they just got bored and wandered off into the sunset, never to return. Natalie Burn, the lead heroine of the movie, is introduced as a tough-as-nails fighter, someone you wouldn’t want to get into a disagreement with but as the story unfolds, it quickly becomes apparent that she just isn’t that good. She has the physique and as a former Prima Ballerina in real life, she has some good moves but it’s very obvious that the fighting abilities she administers, were taught to her specifically for the film. The actors do their best, given the shortage of motivation but director Mark Atkins should take full responsibility for not fleshing out their characters so we could at least feel something for them instead of indifference.
“Awaken” is available on DVD July 7th
For more info about James visit his website at www.IrishFilmCritic.com