The Book of Eli
When Albert Hughes (director) was asked why he and his brother Allen decided to make the Bible a main focal point of their new film The Book of Eli he summed it up by saying, “It had to be the Bible. It is the biggest selling book of all time. And possibly in the last 2,500 years the biggest influence on western literature and; it’s the Bible, man!” It is this sort of fascination with the book that leads the two main characters to want to possess the last known copy in existence in this post-apocalyptic action drama that mixes faith and butt-kicking like no other film before it.
Eli (Denzel Washington) has spent the last thirty years traveling west with a book that God not only led him to but instructed him to protect and deliver in a Moses like journey. Along the way he has had to survive against bands of cannibalistic marauders and barter for necessities like water and food. As Eli tells one young girl, “People kill each other now for things we used to throw away.” When Carnegie (Gary Oldman) discovers that Eli has this book he will stop at nothing to obtain it. Oldman puts it this way, “Like an alcoholic who puts the drink first and everything else behind it; in his search for this book, he puts everything and everyone else behind it. He would kill to get it.” Carnegie wants to use it as a way to control and manipulate the town he runs. It is up to Eli to protect it and trust God to protect him as he does so.
Washington delivers nicely in this role. He has not only the inner strength to be convincing in the mission but also an outward peace that allows him to be compassionate and wise. As his counterpoint, Oldman also makes one hellacious bad guy. He is calm in his cunning which makes him more dangerous. Denzel wanted this to be so and stated, “The good guy is only as good as the bad guy is bad.” It is this face off of characters that gives The Book of Eli its meat. Another strong element is a very young and naïve character named Solara (Mila Kunis) who was born after the events that destroyed the world. She sees Eli as a man of compassion who has a faith rarely seen anymore. And it draws her to him. They compliment each other and she becomes the one that basically helps Eli discover the truth of his journey.
The Book of Eli is rated R for some brutal violence and language. Eli is quite handy with a sword and is quick to remove body parts of anyone who stands in his way. Also the language is strong and frequent so parents need to take that into account when toting along youngsters. I give the film 3.75 out of 5 ray-bans. A few too many plot holes and ambiguous back stories keep this from being stellar but the concept, action and acting certainly make it one to see for fans for the kick butt genre. Rarely do you see the Bible used in such an interesting and conceptual way which makes it stand out even more. So says Matt Mungle
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