By Marc S. Sanders
Do you believe in the word of God?
The Book Of Eli directed by The Hughes Brothers will make sure you do.
Faith carries Denzel Washington’s loner character on a journey through a grim, sunburned post apocalyptic wasteland as he protects a rare, sacred text. He has been on a sojourn to reach a final destination out west.
Me, being the religious skeptic these days, might normally find the convenient episodes of survival that Washington encounters as far fetched. However, The Hughes Brothers direct a script penned by Gary Whitta that never mocks the purpose of the film presented. As a viewer it would be rude of me to laugh at how Washington continues to walk when it seems he’s getting shot in the back. I wouldn’t dare misbehave in that manner. Watching The Book Of Eli…well…I feel like I’ve gone to church.
The Loner carries a book he faithfully reads every day as continues his long walk through treacherous, barren and motorcycle pirated lands. If the sun doesn’t blind him and kill him, the various marauders might.
The worst adversary of this bunch is Gary Oldman in yet another treasured villain role. Oldman keeps a tight authority on an “old west” inspired town, commanding from his comfortable leather chair in the upstairs level of the town’s bar (saloon, perhaps?). He’s been tirelessly dispatching men to find a particular book and perhaps it’s the one that The Loner possesses.
Post-apocalyptic wasteland, a book, a Loner, a villain. That’s the structure of this film along with some side characters like an impactful Mila Kunis and Jennifer Beals. Very simple ingredients allow for well edited moments where Washington can display his unexpected fighting techniques with a gun or a shotgun or a forearm length sword. When he exercises these moments the scenes are outstanding. Oldman is the guy who sits back letting his own horde do the dirty work and only acts when he sees that he has an upper hand. He’s oily, scary and in this dense waste of a future he likely dreams of being a prophet or a high powered evangelical might.
I was so pleasantly surprised by this film. Post apocalyptic films wear on me these days. How much is there to show that I haven’t already seen like abandoned cars, skulls, and deserted highways?
This is different however because Whitta’s script offers a reason to live through this hellish void. I had to wait for it but the ending is a very satisfying conclusion. I loved it, actually.
The Book Of Eli is a great film.