The Book of Eli
This is a dark, unforgiving parable set in the future. Eli (Denzel Washington) is traveling on foot through a war-ravaged American desert carrying and protecting a book he feels can save mankind. He runs into a tyrant, Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who runs a small town in the middle of the desolation, who has been looking for the book and wants it.
Brothers Allen and Albert Hughes direct this post-apocalyptic future western without a hint of humor, and that’s a shame. It’s pretty grim sitting through this thing without even a glimmer of lightness. In fact the film is shot so monochromatically, it often looks like black and white without much white.
There is an abundance of graphic violence in this film, but what really sets it apart are the plot holes, which abound. Eli is walking west. He’s been doing so for thirty years. But he carries a gun and never runs out of ammunition. Where does he get it and where does he carry it?
Carnegie sends his minions out to look for a book. They bring lots of books back but never the right one. Eli just happens to show up with the one book, the only one in existence, for which Carnegie yearns. What a coincidence!
Eli carries an iPod with him. Now, let’s think about this. The war that devastated the world was at least 30 years ago. Eli walks through one ruin after another. But his iPod is powered so he can listen to it. If you have an iPod, you know that Apple’s support is virtually non existent unless you are loaded with dough and patience. And you know that the battery has to be constantly recharged. Yet this Ipod has run for 30 years while Eli has been walking alone across the desert! Even amazing doesn’t describe that.
Carnegie runs a small town. The small town has stores. What supports the town? Where do people get their money to support the stores? What do the residents do all day long? Where do the people in Carnegie’s bar get the money to spend?
If you think that the worlds of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse are fantasies, they have nothing on the world of Eli and Carnegie. It seems to me that if you are going to create a world for your film, there should be some substance for that world.
Oh, well, the real action starts after Eli leaves Carnegie’s town with Carnegie’s adopted daughter, Solara (Mila Kunis), as his unwanted companion and Carnegie sets out after them to get the book. This causes lots of violence.
Washington and Oldman give good performances, given the material, but the person you really want to see is Kunis, who is beautiful, gives a good performance, and seemed to be setting this thing up for a sequel, more’s the pity. This is violent and basically senseless.