By T. A. Moreland
Something has happened. The U.S. is in shambles. It is scarcely populated. One man, Eli, (Harlem raised Denzel Washington) travels through the land on a mission.
He encounters those who would rob him not money or “other valuables” but of food and water which are in short supply. With a magical energy Eli, vanquishes opponents who are bigger in size and number.He ultimately comes upon the first hint of civilization. A town run by a man known as Carnegie (Gary Oldman). Carnegie and Eli have several things in common. They’re both survivors of whatever calamity has befallen the country. They are close in age. They both can read in a time when that is rare talent. But most importantly Carnegie has long realized that he needs a bible as a tool to control his followers even more than he currently does. And that is one of the items Eli possesses. But Eli is on his own providential mission to get the bible to place beyond Carnegie’s town. The men do battle over who will possess the valuable book.
The Book of Eli is a very different film. It has the Hollywood brand of violence. But despite its hostile underpinnings, this is a very spiritual story. Violence and spirituality are a unique combination. It gets a See it rating.
From the beginning it is clear that something very dramatic has happened in America. There is a reference to this time before it happened. Was it a war or a natural disaster? Co-director Albert Hughes says “it doesn’t matter” what happened. As the story develops one realizes he’s right; ultimately it doesn’t matter to the story.
The Book of Eli has an impressive cast. This film doesn’t work without the powerful performance of Denzel Washington. He’s all the things Eli has to be: wise, humble, powerful, and serene. But just as effective is Gary Oldman as the misguided leader of an almost thriving civilization. Jennifer Beal who made a name for herself in the cult film Flashdance decades ago stars as Claudia, Carnegie’s long suffering mate. I’m not sure how old Jennifer is now but she remains a stunning beauty. Russian born, Mila Kunis plays Solara, Claudia’s daughter and Eli’s partner through much of his journey.
The Book of Eli is a transracial movie; there characters are black and white but race is a non issue.
The cinematography is absolutely Oscar worthy. The images are not fully black and white but a muted color which fits the gray tone of the movie. Another one of the things I liked about this movie a cat gets killed. That might sound weird. But one aspect of Hollywood filmmaking that irritates me is that humans can be blown up, blown away, or blown apart but directors and screenwriters go to great lengths to avoid showing animals getting hurt. I like animals but value humans more.
The Book of Eli is rated R for extreme violence and is one hour and 58 minutes in length. And it gets our highest rating: See It.