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The Book of Eli

A 2010 American film starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman.

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Glaring Plot Holes and a Surprising Twist Almost Ruin a Promising Premise

  • Jan 31, 2010
Pros: Acting by Mr. Washington...premise is worth exploring

Cons: Glaring plot holes

The Bottom Line:

I will recommend The Book of Eli, but just so.

The Book of Eli (2010)
Directed by: The Hughes Brothers
Screenplay: Gary Whitta
Principles: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Jennifer Beals, Ray Stevenson, Mila Kunis  
Running Time: 117 minutes
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: "R" for strong language, violence  

Ah, the new fascination with post-apocalyptic America; with all of the movie and television programs of late depicting a post-nuclear war world, one might start believing death, flames, and ashes are inevitable.  It's interesting to see what new twists one can bring to the screen.  The Book of Eli (2010) certainly adds something new to the growing body of entertainment based on this theme.    


Directed by the Hughes Brothers (Allen & Albert), The Book of Eli opens on a desolate, grey, ash littered landscape upon which a man lies dead.  Into this scene wherein dead leaves and ash rain down like so much dead snow,  a skinless cat appears and creeps up on the man only to be run through by an arrow from a man wearing a gas mask.  So begins our tail. 

This same man, who we learn is our hero Eli (Denzel Washington ~ St. Elsewhere, The Preacher's Wife, Inside Man), is later seen eating the cat.  Eli is on a 30 year quest to bring the last remaining Holy Bible from the East Coast to the West Coast of the United States wherein it will be spread anew.  Eli is bristling with weapons that he knows how to use with aplomb, so you know more than one evil-doer falls to blade and bullet.
One day Eli wanders into a town run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman ~ Dracula, The Scarlet Letter, The Dark Knight) who is as old as Eli, remembers the days before the war and is searching for a Bible so that he may better control not only his town, but neighboring towns as well.   

After Eli wipes out a number of his henchman is his bar (he did ask them to leave him alone), Carnegie encourages Eli to join him, Eli declines at which point Carnegie "invites" Eli to stay the night.  As inducement Carnegie sends Solara (Mila Kunis ~ Max Payne, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, That 70's Show) to Eli to sleep with him and hopefully convince him to stay in order to make the young woman his own.  Solara's mother Claudia (Jennifer Beals ~ Flash Dance, The Bride, The L Word) is the blind mistress of Carnegie and begs the him not to send her; predictably he ignore her.

Eli of course refuses the tender flesh of Solara and goes his own way the next morning, but Carnegie wants the book and takes off in hot pursuit.  But Claudia wanting a better life for her daughter send Solara after Eli, much to the chagrin of Carnegie lieutenant Redridge (Ray Stevenson ~ Rome, Punisher: War Zone), who wants the young woman for himself.

My Thoughts

Okay, first things first: who could not like a movie with Denzel Washington as the lead actor?  Even if said movie-The Book of Eli-has serious plot holes?  Yes, even if the movie has serious plot holes, it is still worth considering because Mr. Washington is just that dynamic an actor. 

But, upon reflection, the plot holes in The Book of Eli cannot be overlooked; for instance Eli carries a beat-up iPod classic with him that he listens to every night.  However, the war ended over 30 years ago and the landscape upon which Eli walks is coated in devastation.  Question: how is Eli recharging his iPod?  At one point it does run out of power, so how does he recharge it?  Because later it is in use again! 

Example two: the small two Eli wanders into seems to be thriving, there are stores a bar, etc., etc.  How is the two supporting itself when it is surrounded by, well, devastation?  Where do the people get the money and goods to support their stores? And a better question: why would money hold any value at all?  What do the people do all day?  And where on earth did Carnegie get the fuel for his (4) vehicles one of which uses diesel fuel?  With food so scarce-there are cannibals about-it's hard to believe even a scrap would be freed up to make bio-fuel.

But I am willing to overlook these slights to my intellect because the premise is well worth exploring given mankind's predilection and devotion to faith in the unseen and all powerful.  And because the action sequences are well done and the story moved along convincingly enough until the bottom one third of the movie; that is when The Book of Eli's seems to run out of imagination and the mystery and larger than life mystic of our lead character is shattered, thereby ruining the rest of the movie in a plot twist that made little sense.    

I will recommend The Book of Eli, but just so.  The principle characters did a great job of bringing the film to life; it's just unfortunate that the script did not live up to their considerable collective talent. 


Movie Mood: Serious Movie
Viewing Method: Studio Screening/Premiere
Film Completeness: A few glitches, but mostly complete.
Worst Part of this Film: Script

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More The Book of Eli reviews
review by . January 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
3 ½ + Stars:
At first impression from its trailer, the Hughes Brothers’ (From Hell) post-apocalyptic action drama “The Book of Eli” appears to be a film that borrows heavily from other movies such as “Water World” and “Mad Max”. Such movies have their plots revolving around survival and/or the search for a natural resource. This film does have the post apocalyptic theme going for it, but the ’resource’ that humankind is searching for isn’t oil, water …
review by . November 10, 2010
The Book of Eli was a highly anticipated film for me and although some of my friends had their issues I loved it. This isn't a perfect movie but it was a damn good one. Anywho, here goes the synopsis, In 2042, thirty years after an apocalyptic event, Eli (Denzel Washington) travels on foot toward the west coast of the United States. He keeps very little on him, somehow he has a working ipod, sunglasses, and a heavy arsenal that makes him one the deadliest men still alive.      …
review by . December 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
**1/2 out of ****      Out of all those apocalyptic action films of the new generation, "The Book of Eli" is one of the better, yet imperfect ones. I can't guarantee that many will be able to forgive its visual bleakness and pretentious story-telling, but there's something about this film that makes it fun. Sure, it's a flawed apocalyptic tale without depth and devoid of power. But it's also fun, especially when there are action sequences. These little …
review by . May 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Don't let the first 30 minutes or so of The Book of Eli fool you - it comes off as a bleak and moody mix of other post-apocalyptic stories like Mad Max and The Road, but by the time the credits roll you'll see the heart that beats beneath this cracked skin.      There's a lot of story to uncover in The Book of Eli, more than I initially expected, and the themes and ideas expressed here surprised me. In a very good way.      Denzel Washington pulls …
review by . January 18, 2010
Kicking Butt After the Age of 50
A quick visit to Wikipedia and I discover that Mr. Gary Oldman is starting to live up to his namesake. No offense, of course, to those over the nice round age of 50. In fact, take it as a compliment. It means that at the age of 51 you can still intimidate the heck out of us younger-folk. That is, if you are anything like Gary Oldman. Even past his 50s he remains one of the most unnerving personas to hit the screen. And boy does he rattle the nerves in The Book of Eli.      Another …
review by . January 26, 2011
Pros: Washington & Oldman     Cons: none for me     The Bottom Line:   "Not At This Time In My Life  How Can I Hear Your Call In This Windy Night"  ~Houston Calls       It has been a while since the Hughes brothers, Albert & Allen, have offered us a project, but joining with writer Gary Whitta, they have given us The Book of Eli.  It is rated R for language and violence and has been nominated, …
review by . January 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
All of a sudden I was blinded by a flash, devil of a man with a gun
Years ago, the educated in the church were the only ones who could read scripture and keep themselves in power and the world stupid.  The ones in power who are lacking benevolance are in danger of ignoring Santiago's most famous maxim, the one about those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.  So sets into motion The Book Of Eli, a fantastic post apocolyptic western movie where a lone traveller heads west on a quest of faith with an important piece of cargo to take home.   …
review by . February 27, 2011
posted in SF Signal
      Real short:  watch it if you get a chance. Slightly longer: The Story of the Christ meets Mad Max The Road Warrior. And just a bit longer: Fans of post apocalyptic scenery will love the devastation. Fans who have been clamoring for post apocalyptic tales with more of a Christian message will enjoy the message. Fight scenes - pretty darned good.  Acting - pretty darned good.  Cinematography and musical score - pretty darned good (I'm a pushover …
Quick Tip by . December 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Good grief, this was dull. I enjoy a well-done post-apocalyptic film and that sub-genre has a long and interesting history. However, this film adds nothing to it and its insufferable and hypocritical message was annoying as could be. The strange twist near the end also made the film completely unbelievable as well as meandering. The only positive things I can say about it is that the camera work is quite good and Denzel Washington delivers an okay performance.
review by . September 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of Denzels coolest flicks yet.
Just when you thought you've seen it all (post-apocalyptic movies) comes The Book of Eli. This movie takes place a few years after a war destroys most of America. The main Character Eli is in the possession of what seems to be the last bible on earth. There is something about this movie, it just pulls you in and your instantly hooked. Denzels acting was phenominal and after all these years he's still got it. The story seemed odd but it was enough to keep you intrested. I loved the twist …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #77
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


The Book of Eli is a 2010 American film starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman.  It was directed by Albert and Allen Hughes and written by Gary Whitta.  The film was released on January 15th 2010.

Based in post-apocalyptic 2043, The Book of Eli follows the life of one man (Washington) who in his posses ion holds the last bible on Earth.

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Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: January 15, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Gary Whitta
Runtime: 118 minutes
Studio: Alcon Entertainment, Silver Pictures, Warner Bros Pictures, Columbia Pictures
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