The Book of Eli

2010-02-25 09:49
 
The Book of Eli
 
What it's about:

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 civilisation here, no law. A warrior not by choice but necessity, Eli (Denzel Washington) seeks only peace but, if challenged, will cut his attackers down before they realise 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 realise. 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.

What we thought:

Shot in stylishly tanned sepias and washed out aquamarines, The Book of Eli looks beautiful. The cast is enticing too: Denzel as the warrior prophet; Gary Oldman a bookish villain; Jennifer "Flashdance" Beals his blind, abused wife; Mila "That 70’s Show" Kunis her sexy prostitute daughter. British vet, Michael Gambon even has a cameo as an eccentric cannibal farmer. Pretty colourful characters, but there’s a bigger problem than their clichés.

Denzel’s deftly Zen performance as the ninja-crusader-courier aside, the genre mash-up all but crucifies character and plot at the altar of action movie mania. From the first scene it’s a recycled movie motif shambles. When Eli skewers a cat for dinner employing a hunter’s technique used by John Rambo in First Blood you just know it’s going to one of those movies. You know those annoying post-Tarantino flicks that think recycling entire scenes from their source material is paying homage to their influences? Then again, Rambo was made almost 30 years ago so maybe directors, the Hughes Brothers expect no one to remember?

After watching Eli trekking west through the wasteland for 30 ponderous minutes spent slicing and dicing up scavenging gangs while searching for water and taking shelter, it's almost impossible not to feel like you're watching an MTV mash-up of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Kill Bill and Kevin Costner’s The Postman.

Boring? Not totally. But we’ve seen so many honey-trap ambush scenes before. We know the hero’s going to give those three villain stooges what they deserve. Why? Because the villains are bald, bearded and beastly bloody cartoons. The thrill of Eli’s kill isn’t especially riveting either. Not if you’ve seen any Extreme Asian action film, anyway.

And from the moment Eli arrives at the small frontier town controlled by crime boss Carnegie (Oldman) the movie melts down into one of those one-dimensional spaghetti western duels between good and evil. One of the baddies actually whistles Ennio Morricone’s theme to Once Upon A Time In America!

From here on out the film is populated with 'makeovers' of a slew of 'magic' western and martial arts movie moments culled from Walter Hill's Last Man Standing, Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Clint Eastwood’s entire oeuvre. There's the saloon shoot ‘em up sequence. There’s the hero and heroine’s hideout being blasted to bits (The Gauntlet, anyone?). There's even the "Satan sends a sexy young whore to seduce Jesus" scene.

Wait up, Christ being tempted by the devil while wandering in the desert for 40 days and nights is one thing. But comparisons to Eli fending off a young Jezebel’s advances by reading her a passage from the Bible is surely a blasphemously aberrant reading? Maybe. But, by now the action has become so telegraphed you’re happy to make your own action movie up in your head to escape the mundanity.

Hell, this is precisely what Eli does. Refusing to sell his soul – or his book - to the nefarious Carnegie, he heads off into the sunset with sexy young sidekick Solara in tow and Carnegie’s gang hot on their heels. So, do Bonnie & Clyde reach the Promised Land to deliver the good news? Well, let’s just say the final philosophical punch line does its best to throw a few creative coins into the film’s formulaic fountain.


Mad Max is resurrected as a Christian crusader courier in this ponderous post-apocalyptic genre-mash about saving the Bible.

preshen govender 2010/02/25 7:07 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
great action and sex what more can you ask for
Judge Dread 2010/02/25 10:25 AM
Sounds cool
Selwyn 2010/02/25 10:53 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Oh yes, have your little fun, sniggering & pokings at anything remotely christian. For it is appointed unto man to die once, thereafter judgement. And please God does not send anyone to hell, they send themselves. For without Christ one cannot enter the kingdom. Then again it is never too late. You will toss and turn thinking about this.
Spider 2010/02/25 11:20 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Some people should just not be allowed to write reviews, talk about pre conceived and mundane.
Hman 2010/02/25 11:29 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
It is so clear that you would suck life out of a rock if you could. This kind of movies are not made to be disected like the arteries of a mosquito but the emotion and meaning behind all of it should be appreciated..Hope you know the truth friend..
bok4life 2010/02/25 11:53 AM
I watched the movie and its the biggest load of s**t i have ever come across. Its lame and boring as hell. i have to agree with everything that the writer has said except the rating. it should have got NO STARS and never have made it to cinema!
Barry 2010/02/25 12:29 PM
Please note that not all movies are made to be Oscar winners or beautifully made in costume designs, but just to entertain. REMEMBER THAT, MORON
bok4life 2010/02/25 1:45 PM
Thats Barry, so glad that you informed me of that! Please note: I was NOT ENTERTAINED you half breed. Hence my comment! Thanks have a great day!
@Selwyn 2010/02/25 2:48 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Ah yes, Christianity summed up: Love me or go to Hell. Ego and Obedience are traits of Man, not God. As for the movie - an enjoyable jaunt into a pretty damn good Mad-Maxian adventure. 4 Stars.
Len 2010/02/25 10:56 PM
I have not seen the movie but i dont think that, in any movie, they will be able to describe or visiolize what chaos and destruction realy awaits the earth and the people left behind after the wrapture who; will not be spared the hour of temptation. Rev 3:10 .Like u sed Selwyn: It is not to late. Seek Him while He may be found!! Isa 55:6.
steve 2010/03/01 8:49 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
saw this last night - amazing cinematography. being into photography, i was sitting there wishing I had my camera , just to take photos of the awesome scenes and cinematography. I thought the movie was actually very clever, and with a minimum of violence, actually relied on the subtle story to take you to the end.. will definitely see it again - 4 stars!
@preshen 2010/03/10 10:52 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Great action, good movie and NO sex... and the movie is better for it
NEXT ON CHANNELX
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.