BOOK OF ELI, THE
Ashen-hued thriller takes place 30 years after the big “flash,” and looks like a million other post-apocalyptic flicks (in particular, The Road) but at it’s heart, is no more complicated than an old-fashioned Western shoot ‘em up in which a stranger wanders into a town controlled by a crazy bastard.
The stranger Eli (Washington) carries the last Bible in the world. Carnegie (Oldman, in bug-eyed mode) wants to possess the book so that he may control the masses. Many things get blown up but the movie contains one wicked observation: only the older folks remember books or know how to read. The Hughes Brothers bring a supremely confident style to what should amount to a B-movie.
To some, the reappearance of an unhinged villainous Oldman after a decade’s worth of supporting good-guy roles (Harry Potter, The Dark Knight) is worth the price of admission alone. In my humble opinion, Oldman’s antics in Leon: The Professional (1994) and The Fifth Element (1997) should have banned him from the sport of Over-Acting forever.
SEMI-SPOILER: If Washington’s lone warrior/samurai archetype isn’t enough of a genre throwback, the script adds a twist in the last act that’s as unbelievable as it is pulpy. Oh, and can we take a count of how many futuristic flicks eventually end up in San Francisco with a ravaged Golden Gate Bridge? (Warner Bros.)
— DENNIS WILLIS