4 StarsThe Book of Eli is the best apocalyptic, futuristic western throwback that I’ve ever seen. Who would have thought Denzel Washington, an Oscar winner and star of ‘important’ movies could conquer the wasteland wander role, too? Directed with loving homage to a variety of films, by one of our countries’ most underrated talents’,Allen & Albert Hughes. The visual aesthetic takes it’s cue’s from George Miller’s Road Warrior mixed with the airy vistas of Eastwood’s Unforgiven. For further proof look for the scene in which Deborah’s theme from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in America is whistled.
Denzel is the keeper of a powerful book, the last of its kind in known existence. As he travels through the remnants of a once fruitful world, he must confront highway men and vicious gangs of roving bikers. Through this he winds up in a colony township run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman). It seems that Oldman is obsessed with finding religious texts for the controlling power they posses on the masses. After Carnegie’s mistress Claudia (Jennifer Beals) gives Eli some food and water, Claudia’s daughter Solara (Mila Kunis) is ordered to seduce Eli. In doing so, she discovers the valuable book in his possession.
Narrowly avoiding an assassination attempt, Eli hits the road with Solara in tow. The two begin their quest to deliver the last remaining bible to a safe point located in what was once the Bay Area. The text will be kept in a guarded facility far from the devious hands of Carnegie. The film’s third act plot twist is rather ingenious and expertly handled by the actors, writers, and the directing duo of the Hughes Brothers.
The Book of Eli feels like a cinematic apology for the debacle that was I Am Legend. While the latter featured an excellent performance from Will Smith wasted in a seas of predictability, the former trades in a supernatural horror element for a religious angle. Admittedly both are sci-fi fantasy, but Eli has the air of authenticity and care that give it a certain merit and validity. It also reinstates the fact the Allen and Albert Hughes rank among the best American directors.
Director: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes
Stars: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis