THE BOOK OF ELI
118 minutes approx
Written by -
Directed by -
Albert & Allen Hughes
Eli lives in a world that has gone to hell in a handbasket following a war. Survivors eke out an existence in the desert wastelands by mainly preying on each other. Eli has survived thanks to his faith, his book and his ability to kill anyone who messes with him. When he comes to a remote town, however, he finds Carnegie, a man who also reads. Carnegie is in search of a very specific book and suspects that Eli is in possession of that book and so sets about recovering it by any means necessary.
THE BOOK OF ELI is made up of pieces of just about every post-apocalypse movie that you have ever seen. Think THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR with a book instead of a baby (for that matter CHILDREN OF MEN with a book instead of a baby) or MAD MAX 2 with a book instead of oil and added hints of DELICATESSEN and even touches of THE POSTMAN. You could spend the movie picking out the refrences if you wanted, but fortunately you don't get bored enough to do that.
It is also a western, of course, as so many of this types of movie are - a lone drifter coming to town and standing up to the local land owning bully and his posse, becoming a hero in spite of himself because he has to do the right thing. There is very little about THE BOOK OF ELI that is original.
Which doesn't mean that it isn't worth your time. At the heart of the film is the anchoring performance from Denzel Washington who exudes inegrity even as he is ignoring a rape attack and slicing up villains that ty to waylay him. He has to do more with fewer words than he might be used to, but this is Denzel Washington and his image serves to shorthand the character. By contrast, Gary Oldman's Carnegie is one of his off-the-peg bad guys who is less interesting than, say, Will Patton who played essentially the same role in THE POSTMAN.
The look of the film is one of its strongest assets with an interesting colour palette that manages to establish and reinforce the sense of place and desolation at all times after a visually startling opening scene. That this is a dead world in convincingly portrayed, though the film does wimp out on that at the end (as these types of film so often do).
It's also interesting that al of the formulaic goings on are all around a book. Eli's obssession, Carnegie's need, these are based on words and ideas expressed through language. Without religion, the film is suggesting, you can't rule the world. Now there's a thought.
In the end, though, THE BOOK OF ELI is a western masquerading as science fiction, but it is at least a diverting one.Top
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