The Book of Eli
Stylish Post-Apocalyptic Thriller
The Book of Eli is the post-apocalyptic thriller for those who thought The Road was too boring. The first movie to be directed by the Hughes brothers since 2001’s From Hell, the movie is full of stylish action sequences that usually involve Denzel Washington making mincemeat out of a number of attackers. The religious implications are also much more on the surface in The Book of Eli than they were in The Road, as the book of the title is no less than the King James Bible.
About thirty years after a nuclear war ripped a hole in the atmosphere, leaving the human race vulnerable to the deadly rays of the sun, Washington plays Eli, a lonesome drifter making his way west. His prized possession is a copy of the King James Bible, the last of its kind after most copies were destroyed following the war by those who believed it was the cause. Eli believes it to be his mission to get the book to the coast. He’s not sure exactly why, he just has faith.
His journey leads him to a small township run by a dictator named Carnegie. Carnegie is also looking for the book, but plans to use its words to rule and, in a sense, become a God of the new world. He sends the beautiful young Solara to seduce Eli, but the two end up joining sides and the movie becomes a race between good and evil.
I count myself among those who felt The Road was too boring, and although I’m not willing to label The Book of Eli as a better movie, I certainly got more enjoyment out of it. It’s not really fair to compare the two, however, aside from the fact that they are both post-apocalyptic movies with religious undertones, so I’ll stop that now.
Denzel Washington has always been the kind of actor that the audience can easily connect with and his Eli is no exception. We know he is the good guy, even when he is cutting other people’s limbs off. Gary Oldman is also at his scenery-chewing best as Carnegie.
The fight and action scenes are all wonderfully staged and choreographed by the Hughes brothers. Two really stand out. The first is the initial fight shot in the shadow of an overpass as Eli fights off a number of assailants, including one armed with a chainsaw. The second is a stand-off between the good guys and the bad guys. In what looks like a single shot, the camera swirls between the farmhouse where Eli and Solara make their stand and Carnegie’s army outside. It’s an impressive set piece that reminds me of a flashier version of the lengthy Children of Men battle scenes.
The movie also has one of those terrific twist endings a la The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense. Now, the movie nowhere near compares to those two, but like them, the ending of Eli will have you revisiting the film—if only in your head—to find all the hints you may have missed along the way; or maybe to find the holes, whatever floats your boat.
With the emphasis on the Bible, I was expecting a much more religious ending and although I was delighted by the twist, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the rest of the conclusion. Still, I was quite entertained throughout the entire film. It also inspired me to hold on to any KFC wet naps I come across… you know, just in case I’ll eventually need them as currency.
The Book of Eli is rated R for “some brutal violence and language.” This is a violent movie with limbs being chipped, etc., so the R rating is definitely appropriate.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of The Book of Eli.