Starring: Natalie Burn, Robert Davi, Edward Furlong, Michael Pare, Daryl Hannah, David Keith, Vinnie Jones, Jason London, Michael Copon
Directed By: Mark Atkins
Run Time: 89 Minutes
Original Year of release: 2015
Awaken is a thriller/horror about a diverse group of people who are drugged and wake up on a remote South American island where they are hunted down by a group of paramilitary soldiers. The latest victim to end up on the island is Billie Kope, who had been searching for her missing sister and asking the wrong questions in the wrong places. She wakes up on the island where she is quickly friended by other residents Nick (Copon), Todd, Berto (Furlong), and Stitch. They take Billie back to their camp to meet their leader, Quentin (Davi) who has been on the island the longest.
Quentin claims to have no knowledge about the men who are hunting them or the reason why. But hey…It’s Robert Davi! The guy has made a career of playing sinister villains so we’re supposed to trust him? Billie is well versed in the martial arts and she leads a group on a raft to another nearby island where she has her first encounter with the soldiers under the command of “Sarge” (Jones) and including Xander (Pare). It is soon revealed that they all work for a man called Rich (London) who runs the island and uses the victims to harvest their organs to sell to wealthy customers on the black market. One of those customers is Mao (Hannah) who has come to the island in the hopes that Dr. Walsh (Keith) can use the organs to save her daughter.
Admittedly, it is pretty cool to see actors like David Keith, Michael Pare’, Daryl Hannah, Robert Davi, Jason London, and Edward Furlong together in the same film. All of them can make claims to starring in some of the most classic films of the 1980s and 1990s like An Officer and a Gentleman, Eddie and the Cruisers, The Goonies, Dazed and Confused, Splash, and Terminator 2. As you might expect, each of them chews as much scenery as they can in what was limited screen time for most of them. Hannah and Furlong are particularly entertaining…Furlong as a wacked out kidnap victim and Hannah as the evil socialite who doesn’t care who has to be killed to save her daughter. Add into the mix tough guy baddie Vinnie Jones and Michael Copon, who is best known for playing the Blue Ranger in Power Rangers: Time Force, and you have a “B” movie cast for the ages.
Where Awaken falters is first with its female lead, Natalie Burn. The Ukrainian actress had a bit part in Expendables 3 but most of her credits were in Russian films and TV shows. While she displays some decent fighting skills she’s certainly not in the same class as Gina Carano or Ronda Rousey. Things get worse when she’s not fighting. She’s far too stiff to carry the load of the narrative as she’s asked to do and while her accent is slight it’s enough to make it hard to buy that she is an American. The attempt at a romantic angle between her character and Nick has all the spark of a tuna sandwich.
Awaken recycles a similar plot that has been used in far better films like The Condemned and Battle Royale so earns little points for originality.