The Book of Eli | The Hughes Brothers, 2010
Whether or not you belive in such things, you have to admit that religion has a power over people unlike any other thing. The problem is that while it is supposed to be about peace and love, people like to twist it around to fit their own wishes and to convince people to do their evil stuff. For that same reason, people in today’s world fail to see what is going on around us. Instead of doing what the bible actually says, they use it to spread hate. And that is wrong. The Book of Eli sort of takes on this topic. And while the execution is a bit off, there are plenty of thoughtful things that should make people question what they do with religion.
The Book of Eli follows a man (Denzel Washington) as he makes his way across a barren, post-apocalyptic world. He just says that he is headed west. In his possetion is a bible that he protects with his life. One day, he reaches a town ruled by Carnegie (Gary Oldman) who is looking for a bible also, but he wants to use it as a weapon to get people to do anything he demands. But of course, the man is not going to give it up, and he teams up with Solara (Mila Kunis) to keep the book away from them.
If you’re wondering if that is all that happens, yes it is. There are big chunks of it that is just the man walking around, trying to hunt, or trying to find something to eat. There are a couple of good fights, and an impressive set piece, but besides that, it is just dialogue and people walking. And that is the problem with it. I don’t mind that it is this way, but the dialogue could have been much better, and the set up that leads to the action scenes is poorly developed. It does have some interesting ideas, and the end does pay off, but what leads to it is just so average.
But there are some things that do stand out. First, the cinematography. With the exception of Bruno Delbonnel’s work, cinematography that looks like this is not my cup of tea (oh how I hated the cinematography in JCVD), but it worked here, especially because of the explanation of why the world is the way it is. Then there are the performances. Denzel Washington is good, as usual. Gary Oldman is always a joy to watch when he plays a villain. And Mila Kunis is much better that the role she is playing. There are also some cameos from Tom Waits, Michael Gambon, and Malcom McDowell that made me smile.
The Book of Eli is an entertaining action movie with some interesting ideas. It could have been much better is it had been developed a bit more, but for what it is, it is pretty good.