Stop me if you’ve heard this before. In a post-apocalyptic wasteland a wanderer (Denzel Washington) travels across a ruined landscape avoiding robbers, thieves, and cannibals.
He carries with him something important and valuable which the intelligent but mean-spirited head of a small town (Gary Oldman) will kill to possess.
This is The Book of Eli, and no one will ever accuse it of having a single original idea.
Part western, part post-apocalyptic thriller, and part psuedo-religious mess, the Hughes brothers (the guys who also screwed up From Hell) deliver a trainwreck of a film about one man’s quest to deliver the last bible in existence to the West Coast and the many, many men he kills who get in his way.
The script asks you to accept the following:
1) The Bible (the most reprinted book in the history of mankind) now has only a single copy left in all of existence. In fact, after only a few decades since the apocalypse, people don’t even remember religion anymore, let alone bibles.
2) Bibles don’t exist, but Ray-Bans, goggles, iPods, guns (with unlimited supplies of ammunition, when the shooting starts), and armored transports (with an unlimited supply of gasoline, when the script calls for it) all seem to be available in abundance.
3) A man armed with only a sword can take down an army all by himself, as long as he has God on his side.
4) In the end, everyone gets what they deserve.
Although not awful, The Book of Eli is weighed down by a foundation of stupidity, a late twist that will make you want to scream, and a neediness to try and make everything cool (they even attempt to turn Mila Kunis into a badass). It also doesn’t help that the cinematography is more appropriate for a video game or music video than a feature film.
If you can look past these various issues you can find a film filled with adequate to strong performances and a story that’s at least interesting (even if at times it seems to have it’s head up its own ass).
It’s a far cry from The Road, and I’d certainly rate it below Kevin Costner’s trainwreck epic The Postman, but fans of these types of films may find just enough to have a not horrible time at the movies. (Gee, you think they’ll use that quote for the movie poster?)