The Book Of Eli

  • Year:2010
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes
  • Cast:Michael Gambon, Mila Kunis, Gary Oldman, Denzel Washington
  • Release Date:April 15, 2010
  • Distributor:Sony
  • Running time:117 minutes
  • Film Worth:$13.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

A compelling and highly involving film which dares its audience to think in between impressive fight scenes and gun battles

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The Book Of Eli is nothing new. Its bleached, washed-out post-apocalyptic images have been rolled out in the likes of The Road and Mad Max 2, and its lone warrior leading character has been seen in everything from Yojimbo and The Outlaw Josey Wales through to Gladiator and Shane. But despite its almost strict adherence to the tropes of the post-apocalyptic genre, The Book Of Eli remains gripping and thought provoking entertainment. Directors The Hughes Brothers (From Hell, Menace II Society) have a fine handle on pacing and fight choreography; the performances are strong; the allusions to classic westerns are only occasionally clumsy; the music by Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross and Claudia Sarne is highly original and beautifully evocative; and Dean Burgess' cinematography is striking. Most importantly, however, the debut script by Gary Whitta is full of ideas and is thematically rich, while raising big questions without ever overstepping the mark of its genre conventions.

Loner Eli (an appropriately taciturn and dignified Denzel Washington) has been on a thirty-year trek across a broken America, armed with a sword, a gun, a mysterious book, and an almost otherworldly ability to kick people's arses. The world has been thrown into The Dark Ages after an enigmatically discussed war "tore a hole in the sky", with Eli only one of a select few who was alive before the catastrophe changed everything forever. When he wanders into a dusty town in the middle of nowhere, Eli is thrown onto a collision course with the menacing Carnegie (Gary Oldman, instantly evoking nearly a century of western villains), who wants to bring civilisation back to the world...through means both temperate and cruel.

First things first: it's no real plot spoiler to reveal that the book that Eli is carrying is The Bible, and this is where the film really gets interesting. We eventually learn that after the mysterious war, all of the Bibles were destroyed because they were "what started it all", obviously suggesting some kind of to-the-extreme Christian-Muslim Holy War. Carnegie wants Eli's Bible - the last in existence - because he knows that he can use it as a "weapon", and that he can lead people to blindly follow its words and instantly attain power over them. Eli, however, knows that it can spread goodness and have a positive effect on the disastrous world that surrounds him. Sure, the fight scenes and action set pieces are enjoyable, but this is what The Book Of Eli is really about: the use and abuse of religion. That's pretty heady stuff, and while some will see it as Christian proselytising, it instantly makes this film much more than just another entry in the dog-eared post-apocalyptic genre. Compelling and highly involving, The Book Of Eli actually dares its audience to think in between gun battles, which is no small feat for a big budget studio sci-fi actioner.

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