Movie #13: The Book of Eli

At first, The Book of Eli looks like just another post-apocalyptic B-movie. A lone traveller (played by Denzel Washington) hacks and slashes his way through desert biker gangs preying upon innocent passersby. I feel like I’ve seen this movie many times before. Then he arrives at a dust-bowl town in the middle of the endless desert where the local folk show him varying degrees of welcome. The town thugs goad him into a fight (much to their tragic regret), but the big bad boss (played by Gary Oldman) has other interests when he learns that the traveller carries with him a rare and precious book. When Eli (Washington) leaves town to continue his westward pilgrimage accompanied by Solara (Kunis), Carnegie (Oldman) and his men relentlessly pursue the pair in order to get their hands on the book. Interestingly, against a dramatic, 300-style sky and desert wasteland, the movie becomes quasi-allegorical as Eli is compelled by faith in the hope that the book brings while Carnegie wants to use the book to increase his own power. The simple plot may be fitting for an allegory, but unfortunately it doesn’t make for the most thrilling movie. (For Harry Potter fans, they might get a kick out of seeing some of their favourite actors in very different roles. Besides Oldman, there’s also Michael Gambon, a.k.a. Dumbledore, and Frances de la Tour, a.k.a. Madame Maxine, as a survivalist couple who kick some butt themselves.) I enjoyed the little twist at the ending, but it wasn’t enough for this movie to feel particularly meaningful. Similar to Children of Men (there’s even a boat scene at the end of this movie), this is the story of a man trying to protect/deliver humanity’s hope. Sadly, despite top-calibre actors such as Washington and Oldman there’s still a lot that was lacking from its B-level script. (3.5 out of 5)

13 down, 37 to go!

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