The Book of Eli

PLOT:

Thirty years after an apocalyptic event, Eli (Denzel Washington) travels on foot toward the west coast of the United States. Along the way, he demonstrates uncanny survival and fighting skills, hunting wildlife and swiftly defeating a group of highway bandits who try to ambush him. Searching for a source of water, he arrives in a ramshackle town built and overseen by Carnegie (Gary Oldman). Carnegie dreams of building more towns and controlling the people by using the power of a certain book. His henchmen scour the desolate landscape daily in search of it, but to no avail.

In the local town bar, Eli is set upon by a gang of bikers and he kills them all. Realizing Eli is a literate man like himself, Carnegie asks Eli to stay, although it is made clear the offer is non-negotiable. After Carnegie’s blind concubine Claudia (Jennifer Beals) gives Eli some food and water, Carnegie asks Claudia’s daughter Solara (Mila Kunis) to seduce Eli. Eli turns her down, but she discovers he has a book in his possession. Eli pacifies her with stern words, but offers to share his food with her. Before they eat, though, he has her pray with him. The following day, Solara prays with her mother. Carnegie overhears them and realizes Solara’s words were likely from the contents of the book he has been seeking. Through violence, he forces Solara to tell him Eli was reading a book. When he asks what kind, she says she does not know but forms a cross with her two index fingers. Carnegie realizes Eli has a copy of the Bible, the book he has been seeking. Eli sneaks out of his room and goes to the store across the street, where he had earlier asked the Engineer (Tom Waits) to recharge his portable battery.

Carnegie attempts to stop Eli by having all his henchmen shoot at him, but the bullets seemingly just graze him, as if he is being protected. Eli shoots most of Carnegie’s henchmen and hits Carnegie in the leg with a shotgun blast. After Eli leaves, Solara follows him and leads him to the source of the town’s water supply, hoping she can accompany him on his travels. Eli traps her inside and continues on alone. Solara escapes and soon finds herself ambushed by two bandits who attempt to rape her, but Eli appears and kills them.

Eli and Solara continue on until they arrive at a strange house. They stop to investigate and quickly fall through a trap door. The residents, Martha (Frances de la Tour) and George (Michael Gambon), invite them in for tea; however, the travellers are soon found by Carnegie. Eli, Solara, Martha, and George hole up inside the house. A shootout ensues, leading to the deaths of some of Carnegie’s men, as well as George and Martha. Eli and Solara are captured. Carnegie threatens to kill Solara, which prompts Eli to hand over the Bible. Carnegie shoots him in the stomach and leaves.

While in transit, Solara escapes and drives back to help Eli. Rather than chase her, Carnegie chooses to return to the town with the Bible, since his vehicle is running out of fuel. Solara picks Eli up and they continue west until they reach the Golden Gate Bridge. They then row to Alcatraz, where they find a group of survivors. Eli tells the guards that he has a copy of the King James version of the Bible, and they are allowed in. Once inside, they are introduced to Lombardi (Malcolm McDowell), the curator. Eli, who is revealed to be blind, begins to dictate the Bible from memory.

Meanwhile, back in the town, Carnegie manages to open the Bible with the help of his Engineer, but he is horrified to discover that it is a Braille copy. He is unable to persuade Claudia to read it for him. Carnegie’s leg wound has become septic, and he realizes he will die without making use of the Bible. Eli finishes dictating the Bible and dies from his wounds shortly thereafter. The printing press at Alcatraz begins printing the new King James Bible, after which Lombardi places a copy on the bookshelf between copies of the Torah and Qur’an. Solara is offered sanctuary in Alcatraz, but she instead chooses to head back home.

REVIEW:

Another week, another apocalyptic film. Ho-hum. No worries, though, I’m planning on staying away from this genre next week, unless Netflix screws me over and randomly picks something from my list because of the wait on the few that are on the top. It has happened before.

I don’t really know what to think about this flick. On one hand, I liked it, but on the other, I didn’t care for it. I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be some bright happy picture, but this whole dark thing is a bit played out for me. I guess that is why more and more pictures are doing the whole schtick of one actor walking around by themselves and there is no music or anything before the film finally picks up and gets going.

While I’m thinking about it, this flick starts out with Denzel killing a cat. Now, I realize he has to eat and everything, but did he really have to kill a cat? Couldn’t the filmmakers have used a dog? I’m so tired of cats getting abused in film and society while dogs are all but worshiped! It just isn’t right. I also think it would have been more effective to use a dog. The way it was done, and then the way he shooed a cat later on in the bar made it seem like he was a cat hater. I was just offended by this whole cat hatred thing.

With that point aside, this whole plot is a bit confusing. It is kind of hard to figure out that is going on, but to sum it up, it is postapocalyptic times where they have burned all the bibles. Eli has the last one and Carnegie finds out he has it and will do whatever it takes to get it because he believes that whoever controls a bible can more or less control society.

With a film like this, I sort of expected more action, but at the same time, the fact that it didn’t have too much didn’t surprise me. I was pleased with Denzel kicking ass, but disappointed that as the film progresses he seems to lose his bad-assery.

The cast is actually pretty good. I’ve already talked about Denzel, but Gary Oldman does just as good a job with his role. Seriously, do we expect less from him? As the villainous Carnegie, though, he is ruthless, cunning, conniving, and delusional. Oldman really sells his character’s descent into madness.

Mila Kunis may be the weak link of this film. She doesn’t even seem to be trying here. If you saw her in the early day of That 70’s Show, then you may remember that she more or less sleepwalked through all her scenes. The same kind of thing is going on here, but she does make a believable daughter for Jennifer Beals, as they do sort of resemble each other.

The Book of Eli isn’t the best apocalyptic flick, but it does provide some food for thought. The religious overtones and strong casting really drive this film home. Sad part is, a film like Legion, which dealt with angels wasn’t nearly as powerful, mainly because it relied more on the special effects, as opposed to the acting. I can recommend this to everyone, but for me, the jury is still out. I don’t think I would rush to see it again, but seeing it for the first time was indeed a treat.

4 out of 5 stars

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