Fri, 19 Mar 2010 14:26:16 GMT

Review: 'Book of Eli'

'Book of Eli' is less than a revelation.


'Book of Eli'

In the future, according to 'The Book of Eli', we'll all dress like we're in a Nine Inch Nails video. It is written.

Alost everyone wears goggles and leather in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of 'The Book of Eli'. A meteorite and a subsequent war 30 years earlier, has scorched the Earth and the population.

The landscape (shot in New Mexico) is much like an old Western: bandits (albeit cannibalizing bandits) lurk the desert roads, while rough crowds take refuge in hardscrabble towns. At the saloon, water, not whiskey, is "the good stuff."

Across this charred land strides our Christian cowboy, Eli (Denzel Washington), a mysterious, solitary man who carries the last remaining Bible in his backpack. He also carries a gleaming silver knife and a shotgun, and he's an expert with both.

Like a prophet, he has heard God's voice in his head and he walks West with divine determination. He says to himself: "Stay on the path."

After "the flash" of the cataclysm that rocked the Earth, many blamed the troubles on religion. All the books were burned, making the few that remain precious cargo indeed.

Those born after this event (and this might not seem so futuristic) don't have any knowledge of books - what they mean or how to read them. The elders are the exception, those who lived "before." Among them is Camegie (Gary Oldman), a villainous man who presides over the town Eli wanders into.

He sends his minions out in search of a Bible, though all they can do is return with "The Da Vinci Code" - which apparently even meteorites can't destroy. An intellectual (we first meet him reading a biography of Mussolini), Camegie believes the Bible's power will make him a great leader: "It's a weapon," he says.

When Eli and Camegie meet, much fighting ensues. A young woman, Solara (Mila Kunis, oddly fashionable in tattered clothes), gets roped into the fracas. Tom Waits makes a good cameo as a simple, somewhat quirky shopkeeper.

It's fun to see Oldman, made relatively boring in the Batman films, return to full, theatrical villain mode. He's not over-the-top like he was in 'The Professional', but a rational, intelligent survivor - a frustrated dictator.

Washington propels the film on a straightforward, linear path: a charismatic man-of-few-words with a whole lot of them in his sack.

Source: AP

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