It’s been nine years since Albert and Allen Hughes released a film, the effortlessly stylish From Hell, one of the best — and most overlooked — horror films to come out last decade. The question arises as to whether their latest outing, The Book of Eli, was worth the wait. And I can say unequivocally that the answer is an incontrovertible yes.
It’s a shame that the film has come on the heels of John Hillcoat’s The Road, whose dire, sullen look at surviving in a post-apocalyptic landscape didn’t exactly set the box office on fire. Don’t be fooled — the films are very different approaches to a well-worn genre. Where The Road is a simple, sparse story of survival, The Book of Eli is a bit more ambitious in scope, and more entertaining (and if there’s ever any question, Michael Gambon and Frances de la Tour showing up as gun-toting cannibals should put a rest to that). Eli is an action movie, a very bloody one, with a large debt paid to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns.
Denzel Washington plays Eli, a lone traveler — and movie badass — who’s heading West through the hostile remains of America, carrying the country’s last Bible. It seems that whatever war caused all this destruction was ultimately blamed on religion, causing the destruction of every Bible by mobs of angry survivors. That makes this Bible a hot commodity for Carnegie (Gary Oldman), a town boss — and one of the few remaining literate people — who sees the book as “a weapon aimed at the hearts and minds of the weak and the desperate.” Yes, the film has more on its mind than action, but it never forgets to be entertaining.
Official Site: thebookofeli.warnerbros.com
Director: Allen Hughs and Albert Hughs
Writer: Gary Whitta
Producer: Joel Silver
Cast: Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis, Gary Oldman, Malcolm McDowell, Michael Gambon, Jennifer Beals, Ray Stevenson, Tom Waits, Lateef Crowder and Chris Browning
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