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Published on January 18th, 2010 | by Lottie


Spreading the Word: The Book of Eli

I went out last night hunting some brainless action to fill the void of a Sunday evening. The choices were John Hilcoat’s “The Road” or this weeks new release “The Book of Eli”. With “Eli” the poster promised Apocalypse-pow action and the grief stricken faces emerging from The Road screening was all I needed to choose door number two.

The Book of Eli is based in the starched, water parched years after The Flash, a not entirely explained worldwide disaster.  Civilization has been all but destroyed.  Rape, murder and cannibalism are the norm and in the midst of this Denzel Washington is going West.

Written by Gary Whitta, “The Book of Eli” is directed by The Hughes Brothers who also brought us  the gothic thriller “From Hell” back in 2001.  “From Hell” was based on a graphic novel and the sharp imagery, stark backgrounds and stylised violence of “Eli” had me asking the question if this too was taken from the shelves of the comic store but it seems that’s just their way.

On his path Washington happens upon a small town run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman),  a vicious tyrant pulled straight from the streets of an old Western. Carnegie is also on a quest to find the one book which can expand his rule and bring the surviving world under his control.  As luck or misadventure would have it this all powerful book is in the possession of our hero who is in no mind to part with it.

Washington is persuasive enough as a taciturn world-weary blade-wielder on a mission while Oldman walks effortlessly through the role of the multi-dimensional villain. “That 70’s Show” actress (and current girl crush) Mila Kunis is there to “pretty things up” but is sassy and understated enough to be a worthwhile character.

At it’s core “The Book of Eli” is simply another prophet-in-the-wilderness tale but it’s not quite what the trailers would have us believe.  It isn’t the fast paced frilly action I was expecting. Instead it’s slower, smarter, slyly funny. It even cameos every-one’s favourite gravel voiced  songster Tom Waits. And even if I disapprove of the religious connotations they are necessary for the progression of the journey and are, hopefully intentionally undermined and ridiculed by the hollow piety with remorseless violence of all involved.

Will you remember this movie in six months time? Probably not giving it a few hours on a quiet evening wouldn’t mean the end of the world.

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2 Responses to Spreading the Word: The Book of Eli

  1. Peter Balfe says:

    Great review. I have heard both good and bad about this – but I do have a soft spot for the post-apocalyptic genre (HINT HINT – Top 5 *cough*)

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