The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades- mainly because of the nuclear fallout. The Book of Eli is the latest post-apocalyptic movie to remind us again that we will be spending our days scavenging water and eating emaciated cats. Denzel Washington stars as mysterious road warrior Eli, the protector of the last King James Bible. He is on a journey west and encounters a quagmire of men of questionable character. Along the way he picks up Solara (Milas Kunas) and together they form an odd couple as they try to survive harrassment from mob boss Carnegie played by Gary Oldman. It’s a very simple story of one man’s mission to take his sacred book to the west.
Book of Eli has many familiar components to it as you would expect from this genre. There is a lot of scavenging, bargaining, and shoot outs. It’s like a modern-day, gun slinging ‘old west’ world where the corrupt rule and no one is innocent anymore. Book of Eli reminded me of a remix of the Postman, Mad Max, and more recently The Road. Directors, the Hughes brothers, do an adequate job designing this world. It’s represented well with its gritty muted colors (apparently, the nuclear war had blasted all color from existence). It’s stylized like a graphic novel and overall is done convincingly. Unlike water, the one thing in abundance is slow motion as an element to add tension to scenes. Visually Book of Eli is fine but nothing I haven’t seen before and nothing to make me look forward to our crappy future.
Denzel does what he does best. He is cool, calculating, and always in control. Journeying for over 30 years, Eli’s character origins are kept somewhat mysterious and it make you wonder how he developed such super combat skills. He is clearly a close combat expert and dead shot unlike the savages he encounters. Denzel brings the usual regal and strong moral centeredness that we have come to love in his others roles. He does fine but it did left me wanting something new or unexpected. Mila Kunis is clearly out of place in this role. Even while trying to down play her natural beauty, her sculpted eyebrows and ‘doe like’ eyes are too glamorous for her environment. Her acting doesn’t help her case either. They even try to evolve her character by the end of the film but I couldn’t help but think she won’t survive too much longer in this harsh world.
For the most part, this is a pretty predictable story. There is one glimmer of hope at the end with a small twist however, it wasn’t enough to set this a part from other similar movies. The Book of Eli does have an unusual and subtle Christian focus with how they connect hope and the Bible. It would make for a fascinating discussion in the right settings. Overall I thought this film was fine. Nothing truly bothered me about it but I found it at times as drab as the colorless world they live in. Ultimately, Book of Eli is cool because Denzel is cool. Without him this would have been a different film. If you like post- apocalyptic movies then I would recommend this. If you have to muster enthusiasm for these types of movies then I would skip it and wait for a real thing to occur instead.