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The Book of Eli

A 2010 American film starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman.

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An action movie? Yes. An amazing action movie? No. An entertaining one? Hell yes.

  • Dec 9, 2010
Rating:
+2
**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 sequences are always fun but they come in too low a quantity. What really hurts the film is its unevenness, which can be defined by both the story and the actors. What works about it is that it's entertaining, and that's good enough for me. "The Book of Eli" should have been a bad movie, but thanks to action sequences and a strong performance from Denzel Washington, the movie could be called solid. It's not compelling, but then again what is. There are several turn-offs to this apocalyptic tale, some of which include: brutal violence, bleak imagery, a story devoid of humanity, and whathaveyou. While I can easily complain about all of those things, I find it just as easy to forgive them. Give me action sequences but give me no plot; I'm fine with that, as long as you make the movie entertaining. And since it IS entertaining, "The Book of Eli" is WAY better than it should be. This is a fun, well executed, yet completely forgettable apocalyptic actioner, and it's fine that way. It doesn't NEED to be remembered. Then again, how could it have been? Pretentious films usually don't go down as "classics". And "The Book of Eli" is no classic. Not even a cult classic. And you know why? Because it has some (critical) admirers of its own, yet all-together it was not genuinely "well received". To hell with that. I have my opinions and other people have theirs. If someone dislikes "The Book of Eli", then I'm fine with that. I can understand all too clearly why someone would choose not to have fun with it. I however, am trying to hold off from criticizing the film too much since it's actually not half bad. It's got more "pros" than it does "cons", but just barely. It's enough to save the film from being the boring, bleak apocalyptic actioner that it was essentially made out to be. It reminds me of what an apocalyptic filmic vision should be; fun, somewhat restrained, and consistently symbolic in possibly the worst sense of the word. No matter, I can live with it.

Eli is a wasteland walker; a lone wolf in an apocalyptic world. The Earth has been rendered to rubble since "the war", which is apparently the cause of such misfortune. Eli, along with several other human beings, is the only survivor for miles. But Eli has more than most wasteland walkers do; he has a deadly weapon (?). This weapon comes in the form of a book, presumably the Bible, which every major man in the time of misfortune seems to be after. One man in particular named Carnegie will kill to find the blasted book, only to discover that in an instant he had it in his possession (not literally, but you get the point). Eli WILL kill to keep the book and himself alive. He believes that he on a paved path of holiness to bring the book to where it belongs. Along on his quest he brings a girl named Solara, who asks Eli to teach her the ways of both the Sword and the Word. So here they are; Solara and Eli, out in the open wasteland running as refugees from the dangers of Carnegie and his crew. The whole plot essentially consists of nothing but dialogue, lots of walking, and a couple cool fight sequences in between both the dialogue and the walking. As you can probably tell, "The Book of Eli" tells a fractured apocalyptic story. This particular tale of survival is not a powerful one; quite in fact, it's more pretentious than compelling. Aside from being uneven and consistently bleak, the film makes non-stop attempts to be religiously symbolic. And you know what, it fails. It fails big time. In an attempt to make it all the more meaningful, "The Book of Eli" manages to hurt itself with its efforts at religious meaning. It doesn't necessarily hurt the structure of the story, but it makes be believe that the "story" being told here was a little, if not really, half-assed. And the ending....well, when it ends, it just ends. And there's not a whole lot more to it. I'm not really excited to see "The Book of Eli 2", although I doubt it will ever be made. But that's what the ending implies. Or maybe they'll just drop the "2" and call the sequel "The Book of Solara". Either way, I can honestly say that I could care less. But as it stands, "The Book of Eli" is a solid actioner lacking a whole lot of substance, and I'm somewhat OK with that when all is said and done.

Denzel Washington makes it so "The Book of Eli" is all the more worth watching. Denzel is a capable actor in a capable movie; rendering it for the better. While this is by no means one of his best performances, "The Book of Eli" finds Denzel Washington having fun with a role that was essentially meant for him, not that he's the only one that could play the wasteland walker Eli. Nevertheless, I'm happy that Denzel was able to contribute enough to the film. Mila Kunis is nearly bad in her role, and serves as nothing but an annoying, female side-kick. There's no emotion to Kunis' character, who seems as distant from herself as we are to her. She's not worth following, end of story. Gary Oldman is pretty decent, as always. He brings some humor into the story even if half of the time he's craving bloodshed. If there were anything excellent whatsoever about the cast, it would be the number of awesome cameos. I mean, you've got the likes of Michael Gambon, Malcolm McDowell, and even Tom Waits (playing an engineer, of course). Good times, eh?

In the minds of many, "The Book of Eli" is bland to the point where it is boring. I agree (for the first part, at least). I do not find this film to be boring; quite in fact, I thought it was pretty entertaining, but I do admit that the imagery was bleak. To create an apocalyptic wasteland, The Hughes Brothers decided to go all-out when it came to central bleakness. The imagery is as appropriately bland as the majority of the film's characters and the emotions within are not very powerful or convincing. However, I find the imagery to work decently enough. First off, it was the director(s) intent to make the film bland. The cinematography is often times gritty and the coloring is meant to look a bit off, in order to get that apocalyptic flavor of course. The movie does feel a bit cold, though. Beware of how empty it feels action and coolness aside. However, I can forgive whatever boring parts it has which are not many. But you know what else doesn't come in large quantity? The action. There NEEDS to be more badass action sequences. That would have made this movie pretty awesome, and maybe even a little re-write-up of the story would help a lot too. The original soundtrack also helps capture that apocalyptic feel, and that's a good thing this time around. Sadly, it cannot be called "art" because frankly, "The Book of Eli" can't possibly be art. While it is genuinely well made for an apocalyptic actioner, it's completely forgettable. I enjoyed the experience a whole lot and I'm glad I watched it, but the film was missing a whole lot of things which were all-too easy to add in. A little thing called "plot" would have been nice, and another thing called "characters" would have made it more compelling too. But as with most Hollywood-produced films these days, you can't expect much. And in that way, "The Book of Eli" might as well be one of the finer Hollywood outings of 2010.

"The Book of Eli" lacks originality throughout, but that's made up for with cool action sequences and an interesting visual style. The film may end with little payoff, but it's fun for what it is. If you watch it, you will be granted a pretty good time. However, I can't say that everyone will love it. If you are a common criticizer of action flicks, then you will not find "The Book of Eli" to be the slightest bit intriguing. However, I can forgive a film for being bland as long as it has exciting action sequences and a good performance from its leading man. Denzel's titular character may not be the most likable badass ever, but he's cool enough to want to follow. When the movie is over, you won't regret the experience. Sure, you're going to forget it...but ah, hell. It was worth watching, I say. It's got a good feel to it overall, even with its bleak imagery and hollowness in its characterization. There is no apocalyptic movie heaven any more; "Mad Max" seemed to begin and end that. But...this may as well be as good as it gets for 2010 apocalyptic films. It's not nearly one of the best films of the year, but it's not as disappointing as some made it out to be. Hell, I say it was better than it was supposed to be. Never is it sentimental and never is it memorable; only pretentious yet fun. I'm fine with that, and so will everyone who at least moderately enjoys the film for the empty, soulless thing that it is. Am I the one who is cold for liking the film? Perhaps, but all that I know is: I haven't had this much guilty fun since "Transformers". And that's been a LOOOONG time.

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December 10, 2010
I own this and still have yet to watch it, sounds like it is pretty good.
December 10, 2010
Give it a go.
 
December 09, 2010
Nice thorough review. I was pretty disappointed with this one. I liked "The Road" much more since it was more character driven and thought out.
December 10, 2010
Agreed. "The Road" was good stuff.
 
December 09, 2010
I saw this movie a couple weeks ago. Denzel was pretty tough, definitely the guy i would want to be hanging out with if the world was ending. The cannibalism was about as creepy as it gets though. That old couple freaked me out! Nice review!
December 10, 2010
Thanks.
 
1
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 . 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 …
Quick Tip by . September 25, 2010
Wanderer after the apocalypse travels across the US with an important parcel to take to the west. Great action movie.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Wiki

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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Details

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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