Released by Warner Brothers
Release Date: Jan. 15th, 2010
Starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, and Ray Stevenson
Written by Gary Whitta
Directed by The Hughes Brothers
Rated R (Some brutal violence and language)
I love post-apocalyptic movies. I find them to be very entertaining in the way that they see how the world would be if there was a nuclear blast. The one problem lies in the fact that they mostly have the same outcome. Everything is reduced to desert and life goes back to a time that is a mix of western times and cavemen times.
The Book of Eli falls into this category with ease. The movie concerns Eli, played by Denzel Washington. Eli carries around a book with him. Gary Oldman is back in form as the lead bad guy. Oldman knows that the book that Eli carries exists, but does not know who carries it. He sends out patrol teams to look for this book which seems really funny. This movie is like a very violent version of The Reading Rainbow.
Oldman's character is one of the few people left that can read. The first time we see him he is reading from a stack of books. Eli can read too. Whenever he isn't kicking butt trying to protect the book he is seen reading it.
Oldman evantually finds out that Eli has the book and sends out his goons to get it back. This leads to a series of action scenes that are not nearly as violent as they should be. It is nice to see Washington being a badass by killing anyone who tries to even touch the book. I like Washington and have always wanted to see what he could do given a sword and martial arts knowledge. Washington has starred in a few action movies, but he has never really shined in them. The action he encounters is usually by way of gun and he doesn't really need to do much there. Here he is moving around, cutting people up and leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.
The movie is directed by the Hughes Brothers who have not made a movie since 2001's From Hell. I don't know why they waited so long to make a movie, but they have made that is a welcome return for them. They had burst onto the scene in the mid-90's with Menace II Society and made a few movies since then. They disappeared after From Hell. I like their movies and have wondered when they were going to make another movie. They bring a nice look to the movie muting out most of the colors so we are left with an earth tone look. The action scenes are very well handled. They don't resort to a lot of quick cutting. They shoot some of the scenes from far away giving them a voyeuristic view.
The movie is above average, but I felt that it took too long to get to the next logical step in the story. There were too many time where Eli stops. He knows that he is being chased, yet he stops. This takes the sense of urgency away from his mission. He is very determined to get the book to a safe place and his constant resting seems to be an excuse for more action scenes. I will bet that if Eli didn't stop as often he might have made it to his destination without having to fight so often.
The other problem I had with the movie is the casting of Mila Kunis. I think she is a wonderful actress, but she doesn't fit well into action movies. Her gift is comedy, not action. Why do director continue to put in action movies? Stop this. Put her in more comedies and dramas. She can prevail there. She seems lost in action roles.
The Book of Eli is a utterly absurd movie. Not once is any of this supposed to be taken seriously. It does contain some badass fight scenes and a badass performance by Denzel Washington. I just wished they had gotten to the point a little quicker.