Starring: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals, Frances De La Tour, Michael Gambon, Malcolm McDowell, Lateef Crowder
Director: The Hughes Brothers
2010 | 118 Minutes | Rated R
“Cursed be the ground for our sake. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for us. For out of the ground we were taken, for the dust we are… and to the dust we shall return.” – Eli
Post-apocalyptic movies tend to fit into one of two categories. Category one is for the crazy action packed fun post-apocalyptic fair like Mad Max and the recently reviewed Equalizer 2000. Category two is for the more realistic, somber, depressing movies like The Road. The Book of Eli falls into that second category but is much more action packed than The Road and isn’t nearly as depressing.
Eli, a lone drifter, has been traveling west across the U.S. for years. He walks along the Highway of Death protecting a sacred book. He doesn’t understand why he is walking or where exactly he will bring the book but he knows that he must “Walk by faith, not by sight.”
The atmosphere is pitch perfect for a very somber, sometimes depressing post-apocalyptic movie. The sets, although mostly computer generated, look fantastic. The Book of Eli manages to walk a fine line between being entertaining and depressing and doesn’t leave you with an empty feeling when it is all said and done.
Eli is a quiet badass. The first time we see the silhouetted Eli slice up the group of raiders on the road we know this guy is for real. Denzel Washington just churns out awesome characters. I can’t even think of a movie with him that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.
The violence isn’t glorified as it often is in other movies (very often to my pleasure). There is a sense that Eli doesn’t necessarily enjoy having to hurt and kill people. It is as if he is not of this world, he doesn’t belong in a world like this.
The really great thing about The Book of Eli is that it doesn’t just depend on Denzel. He has a superb supporting cast backing him up.
Gary Oldman isn’t capable of a poor performance and he certainly doesn’t disappoint as the evil Carnegie who seeks to use The Book to control and exploit the masses.
Ray Stevenson can’t help but look tough as Carnegie’s bodyguard, Redridge. He’s just a born badass. I can’t get enough of him.
Mila Kunis even knocks one out of the park as Solara who is too young to remember how things were before the shit hit the fan.
Some people get a little bent out of shape about the “religious connotations” of The Book of Eli. I just don’t see it. Without diving too deep into it and ruining the movie for anyone who has not seen it – The Book of Eli never gets preachy. It has two opposing men. One looks to exploit religion for personal gain and the other looks to preserve the original purpose of The Book. But Eli isn’t out converting people in the wastelands. He is much more likely to chop some heads off than to preach the gospel to them (not that preaching the gospel is a bad thing either, it just doesn’t happen here).
I absolutely love this cast and loved The Book of Eli. I have gone back a half dozen times since its release to watch it again. The movie is strong enough to support multiple viewings even though I know what’s coming. I have no doubt that I will continue watching The Book of Eli for years to come.