Length: 118 minutes
Release Date: 40193
Directed by: Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes
Genre: Action / Adventure / Drama
The post-apocalyptic drama is a popular genre of recent years, but few films have captured the gritty, disastrous consequences of nuclear war quite like “The Book of Eli.” Although this film has some religious undertones, it is above all a story of survival and society’s need for moral order. Featuring an intriguing plot and visuals that suck viewers into the world of Eli, this is one adventure that fans of the dystopian genre do not want to miss.
The film opens with a dreary scene of a hairless cat feasting on a corpse, and in an instant, it is shot with an arrow, and a man in a bio-hazard suit goes to retrieve it. The lone wanderer Eli (Denzel Washington) finds an abandoned house where he cooks his meal and scavenges for whatever useful items he can find. The land is empty and devoid of life, and the sun beats down hard on a world ravaged by nuclear war. After showcasing his capable fighting skills against a group of bandits, Eli stumbles upon a surviving town governed by a man named Carnegie (Gary Oldman).
After killing a group of ill-intentioned bikers in a local bar, Eli is brought before Carnegie, who, upon seeing that he is educated and literate, urges Eli to stay in the town. Carnegie soon makes known that he desires to govern more towns, and he has been searching for a certain powerful book to no avail. Seeing Eli’s reluctance to stay, he commands Solara (Mila Kunis), the daughter of his blind mistress, to give him an enjoyable night so that he might be convinced to stay. Instead of taking advantage of the young woman, Eli asks her to pray with him. Solara reports this to Carnegie the next day, who then realizes that Eli possesses the book which he has been seeking: the Bible.
Eli manages to slip away, but Carnegie sends his men after Eli to kill him and retrieve the book. Solara also escapes from Carnegie’s grasp, and she is rescued by Eli after she is captured by bandits. The two must work together to escape the clutches of their pursuers, find a safe haven and protect the valuable book in their possession.
“The Book of Eli” is one of the most visually impressive post-apocalyptic films to date, introducing viewers to vast barren landscapes, muted color schemes and believable scenes of past destruction. Each scene seems to suck viewers into the dystopian future, keeping them on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.
The plot is well-paced and suspenseful, but the story itself leaves much to be desired. From Carnegie’s obsession with the Bible to Eli’s forced stay in the town, numerous plot points feel much too unrealistic to create a believable universe for audiences to enjoy. Adding to this is fact that much of the plot revolves around the importance of the Bible. Non-religious individuals may find themselves losing interest due to the film’s somewhat preachy nature. Despite this, the themes of “The Book of Eli” are not entirely religious in nature, emphasizing the importance of faith in oneself as well as the importance of moral law for society to follow. Additionally, the great action sequences help to fill the void left by a weaker plot.
Making up for the somewhat unbelievable plot is a cast of talented actors. Gary Oldman is well-cast as the despicable Carnegie, and Mila Kunis is perfectly believable as Solara. Bringing the cast together is Denzel Washington, pulling off the role of a wise, compassionate, tough survivor with ease. Although the actors all give commendable performances, they are no doubt aided by the inclusion of well-written characters. Eli’s personality and skills are both realistic and engaging, and Solara is far from the stereotypical female lead found in most action films, introducing a spunky, innocent character rather than acting as a standard love interest for the protagonist. These strong characters carry the film through its weak moments to deliver a truly entertaining film.
“The Book of Eli” offers up plenty of action and some intriguing plot elements, but its strongest points are the characters and the actors who bring them to life. Although it received mixed reviews from critics, this film has become a fan favorite within its genre. Washington is especially impressive in his role, and the rest of the cast hold their own as well. The tone of the film may come off as overly religious for some audiences, but the themes that it weaves into he story can be appreciated by viewers of all backgrounds.
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