Rating: 3.25 of 5
The first thing I have to say about The Book of Eli is that it’s very stylishly directed. The landscape isn’t just desolate, it’s white hot from being burned by the sun. There is a epic feel to some of the close ups which at times is interesting and other times less so.
The action is well done in that it’s incredibly violent but rarely graphic. Denzel Washington as Eli has a very quick, sleek fighting style which is cool. Everyone else seems clumsy compared to him which is intentional. but be forewarned, very very violent. When I say “rarely graphic” I mean, “I’m surprised he chopped that many people’s heads off without me being completely grossed out.”
Everyone in the cast gives such solid performances it hardly seems worth mentioning. Even Mila Kunis and Jennifer Beals surprised me with low key, authentic performances and of course Gary Oldman is pretty much always fantastic.
The thing that makes The Book of Eli so interesting is the story. Eli is carrying the last Bible in existence “west” and things happen along the way that I won’t go into to. But I think it’s interesting because it strives for a certain realism. In a post apocalyptic world where a few people remember the world before but there is only one Bible they know of – what then does faith mean? How do you talk about something like a book in a world where almost no one can read? What do people think of prayer when it’s so foreign as to be unknown? Can you then talk about those things we’re so familiar with in a new way? Do these things, faith and prayer and God and a book look different to us for a moment because we see it anew in their sun stained eyes?
That’s what I liked about the film. It took things we are all familiar with and reveals them in a world that’s never known them. It’s not proselytizing at all. It’s just looking at old things through new eyes, or a shift in perspective, much like Battlestar did with more political issues. It does it in an obvious way that’s not heavy handed, which is a particular balance few achieve.