Book of Eli, The (Review)

BOOK OF ELI, THE
(1/15/10; Sci-Fi)
Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals, Evan Jones, Michael Gambon
SCR: Gary Whitta, Anthony Peckham
DIR: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes
MPAA: R for some brutal violence and language.
1 hour 58 mins
BOX: $93,787,369

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

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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