Film: 2010: "The Book of Eli"

Denzel Washington in "The Book of Eli"

A lone man fights his way across America to protect a book

In Theatres Friday, January 15, 2010
Warner Bros. Pictures

Official Website:

In the not-too-distant future, some 30 years after the final war, a solitary man walks across the wasteland that was once America. Empty cities, broken highways, seared earth--all around him, the marks of catastrophic destruction. There is no civilization here, no law. The roads belong to gangs that would murder a man for his shoes, an ounce of water...or for nothing at all. But they're no match for this traveler.

Photo above: (L-r) EVAN JONES as Martz and DENZEL WASHINGTON as Eli in Alcon Entertainment's action adventure film "The Book of Eli," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Review: Book of Eli

Reviewed by Miv Evans

You should only go to see The Book of Eli if you’re sure Denzil’s charismatic presence will carry you through a plethora of stereotypes and a dreary storyline too lazy to make even an attempt at a twist. 

This film claims to be an action drama but is more like a costume melodrama with quite a lot of blood and a penchant for insulting its audience’s intelligence.  Do we really need the first hour to be in brown and white with thunderous skies overhead to make sure we know that things aren’t gong too well?  And do we really need the last fifteen minutes in full color with blue, sunny skies, to make sure we understand that things are now working out just fine?   And just in case you miss who the villain is (Gary Oldman with pock marked skin, rotten teeth and a bad American accent) he is always accompanied by very loud ‘bad guy’ music.

"The Book of Eli" Index

The Production: filming the movie
The Cast: meet the cast memebers

"The Book of Eli" Movie Trailer

Watch the Official "The Book of Eli" movie trailer from Warner Bros. Pictures through Hulu. Click on the white triangle to start the movie.

The back story of The Book of Eli is pretty vague.   Apparently there was a very big flash and then a very big war, possibly brought on by the consumerist bonanza that we were feckless enough to start in the 20th century.   After these two events most people and things got wiped out, but luckily one copy of the Bible was saved.  Eli received an e.s.p. message that he should take the good book and go west to deliver it safely to an unspecified location.  He walks west for the next thirty years, reading his book every day.
Apart from being a pretty stalwart hiker, Eli has special powers which enable him to overcome six thugs at a time using only a hunting knife and make him impervious to bullets in the back.  Eli’s goal to deliver his book is interrupted when a very villainous man tries to take it off him.  Eli risks his life to keep the book safe and only gives it up to save the life of the young girl who decided to follow him after he turned down her offer of sex.

Unfortunately, at this point, we learn that Eli’s special powers don’t cover bullets in the abdomen and he buckles but, in his defense, he does take an exceptionally long time to hit the deck.   But giving up the book is not the disaster it could have been because, fortunately, when Eli reaches his destination under those glorious blue skies, he is able to recount every word.  He proceeds to recite the entire thing to someone who has hair like Merlin and, although there is a printing press on the premises, Merlin decides to take dictation in long hand.

Shortly after this Eli dies but the young girl he saved twice (the first time was with a bow and arrow) decides to return to the village she left to follow Eli.  Apparently she is no longer afraid of the villain who stole Eli’s book because she now has Eli’s iPod.  But there was no need for her to bother with the iPod because the villain’s leg is now infected by gangrene which will guarantee him a slow death and the book he stole was in Braille which he apparently can’t read.

I don’t remember Eli ever reading in Braille but if you’ve got special powers you probably don’t need to use your fingers at all.  Along the way we are fed biblical connotations which include a twiggy tree behind Eli when he gets shot which could symbolize a crucifix or possibly a post-fire bush.  
Apart from all of the above, a few other things are bothering me.   If Eli has been walking for thirty years, this film must have been set around about 2040, which makes me wonder why the relics of the past, that is, 2010, include net curtains, oil lamps, a Series 3 Volvo estate and circa 18th century clothes.   And why hasn’t anybody fixed anything?  All those years and no one has so much as picked up a brick.

We may well be the generation of excess but you can bet your 3G iPod that whatever apocalypse might befall us, within twenty four hours we’d have got enough cell phone towers up and running so we could at least update our Facebook. 
And, finally, I have a question for the Directors.  How come everyone, including Merlin, managed to have kept a very nice pair of Raybans for themselves?   I sincerely hope this isn’t a starting point for another consumerist bonanza as I don’t think anyone will want to repeat Eli’s tortuous journey, no matter how good they think the book is.

Miv Evans is a British producer, now living in Los Angeles.

Originally published:

The Book of Eli Movie Synopsis

Photo below: DENZEL WASHINGTON as Eli in Alcon Entertainment's action adventure film "The Book of Eli," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

A warrior not by choice but necessity, Eli (Denzel Washington) seeks only peace but, if challenged, will cut his attackers down before they realize their fatal mistake. It's not his life he guards so fiercely but his hope for the future; a hope he has carried and protected for 30 years and is determined to realize. Driven by this commitment and guided by his belief in something greater than himself, Eli does what he must to survive--and continue.

Only one other man in this ruined world understands the power Eli holds, and is determined to make it his own: Carnegie (Gary Oldman), the self-appointed despot of a makeshift town of thieves and gunmen. Meanwhile, Carnegie's adopted daughter Solara (Mila Kunis) is fascinated by Eli for another reason: the glimpse he offers of what may exist beyond her stepfather's domain.

But neither will find it easy to deter him. Nothing--and no one--can stand in his way. Eli must keep moving to fulfill his destiny and bring help to a ravaged humanity.

Alcon Entertainment presents a Silver Pictures production, a Hughes Brothers Film: "The Book of Eli." The film stars two-time Academy Award winner® Denzel Washington ("Training Day," "Glory"), Gary Oldman ("The Dark Knight," the "Harry Potter" films), Mila Kunis ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall"), Ray Stevenson ("Punisher: War Zone"), Jennifer Beals (Showtime's "The L Word"), Frances de la Tour and Michael Gambon (both of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire").

"The Book of Eli" is directed by the Hughes Brothers ("Menace II Society," "Dead Presidents") from a screenplay by Gary Whitta. It is produced by Joel Silver, Denzel Washington, Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove and David Valdes. Steve Richards, Susan Downey and Erik Olsen serve as executive producers, with co-producers Steven P. Wegner, Yolanda T. Cochran and John David Washington.

The creative team includes director of photography Don Burgess, production designer Gae Buckley, editor Cindy Mollo and costume designer Sharen Davis. Jon Farhat is the visual effects supervisor. Music is composed by Atticus Ross, and the music supervisor is Deva Anderson.

"The Book of Eli" will be distributed domestically by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company. Summit Entertainment is the international sales representative.

It is rated R by the MPAA for some brutal violence and language.

Distributor:  WARNER BROS
Running time: 115 mins
Cast:  Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis
Director: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes
Writer: Gary Whitta
Producers: Susan Downey,  Joel Silver
Rated:  R

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