Movie Review: The Book of Eli (Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Beals (2010)

Posted: December 4, 2011 in Drama

the book of eli

Eli (Denzel Washington) wanders around a post apocalyptic world that is likely victim of a nuclear conflagration,  Eli possesses a book, which he carries with him, that he sees as the key  to the continuation of mankind,  He has been told by a voice inside him to take the book “out West” and he diligently, single-mindedly tries to achieve that mission.  He believes that God will protect him, whatever dangers he faces, killing hairless cats for food, and roving gangs who try to impede his mission, with equal ease.  Eli comes to a small town, where he decides to stay for the night, Eli meets Claudia (Jennifer Beals) a blind   woman who woks at the ‘hotel’ where Eli is staying, and her daughter Solara, (Mila Kunis) who provides water for weary travelers,  They are being held hostage by Carnegie (Gary Oldman) an evil man, who wants Eli’s book in order to control people and build his empire based on fear. Solara begs Eli to take her with him, Eli reluctantly agrees.  Does Eli make it out West with the book of Eli, does Solara survive?

This is a deeply flawed movie at times.  For example, Eli is struggling to find food and water, yet his I-pod works flawlessly, that’s a silly piece of product placement, that makes the movie laughable.  Some of the gangs ride around in motorcycles.  Huh?  The world is destroyed, yet cars and motorcycles still function?  Where are the gas stations?  And everyone is armed to the teeth with guns; I guess guns survive nuclear winter.  The NRA will be glad to hear that.  Despite all of those post-apocalyptic gaffes, the theme of sustaining one’s faith, when everything around you has been devastated is a powerful theme, and that theme sustains the movie.  The story is similar to the story of Elijah, maybe it was based on the story of Elijah.  Elijah was directed by God to keep himself alive and keep being a prophet of God despite being chased by Jezebel and the followers of Baal.  The ending of this movie is reminiscent of the book Fahrenheit 451, which everyone should read at some point in their lives.

Denzel Washington pulls of his role with an easy, graceful, touch, he is a faithful man, forced to act violently to protect a possession that is vital to him.  That is a huge contradiction that not all actors could reconcile, but Washington does so.  Mila Kunis is not so fortunate, she is given some insipid dialogue, and she’s not a good enough actress to make it believable, so she resorts to sounding like her role on That 70’s Show, a whiny childish brat. Despite that, there are some powerful scenes with her and Washington that illustrate the central theme of faithfulness.  Gary Oldman plays a serviceable villain, but  he doesn’t seem to have his heart in it.  Jennifer Beals is good in the scenes that she is in, she and Washington seem to have better chemistry than Kunis and Washington, but Kunis is better known I guess, and more able to sell tickets. One more thing, the cinematography on some scenes in this movie is breathtaking, clouds seem drawn by hand, and the use of black and white photography is visually provocative.

The Book of Eli.  The Good Book, in movie form.


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