The opening scenes of The Book of Eli tell the story quite well and fill the viewers mind with what is about to come: the dirty and dusty landscapes where survivors scavenge the garbage for anything remotely useable or tradable and where law simply doesn’t exist. Sounds similar to other “post-apocalypse” storylines already used, right? Of course it is.
I personally had to go back and watch this movie twice. You see, I was plagued over the weekend with a very evil and somewhat debilitating bug. I had crippling stomach cramps and diarrhea keeping me tied to a bathroom every 20-30 minutes. But, I am a man of my word and I said beforehand that I would review this movie. I simply had to sit by an exit so I could go “do my duty” every so often. The reason I had to watch this movie twice was that the first viewing was so staccato that I strongly believed that it couldn’t have been as horribly bad as I first interpreted it.
I was wrong.
The good thing about this movie is that one of my personal heroes plays a role as an Engineer: Tom Waits. Yes, THE Tom Waits, the drink-yourself-to-sleep-depression-inducing Tom Waits. However, that’s pretty much where the good points of this movie come to a screeching halt. The normally stable Gary Oldman plays essentially a greedy slum lord, and the star of the movie himself, Denzel Washington, plays a post-apocalyptic version of himself. Granted, Denzel pretty much plays Denzel in every movie he happens to be in, however this time he seemed not to even try to act differently. It’s Denzel how you expect him to be.
A good friend of mine compared The Book of Eli to The Road Warrior, although I can’t compare the two since I haven’t seen the latter. The basic storyline is fairly typical: thirty to fifty years after an atomic blast, America is left as a wasteland. Survivors plague the lands by scavenging anything of use or value and water is one of the highest sought-after resources. A man simply traveling “to the west” stops in a crude make-shift town to gather a few supplies and continue on his way, however the leader of the town is a man looking for a copy of a single book: A Bible. And not just any Bible, The King James Holy Bible. Apparently, all the religious artifacts were gathered up and burned after the war because they believed that religion was the cause of the chaos to begin with. After the war, Eli had heard a voice call out to him, to find this last bible and bring it to someone “in the west” and there it would be safe. The leader of the town finds out that this traveler has the book and does everything he can to take it from him, including stalking him and his new companion (Mila Kunis) to the point of ridiculousness with a huge gun battle in the middle of nowhere.
The movie makes quite a few assumptions, including the fact that the writers want everyone to believe that only a few older people are left due to the atomic war, and most of the younger generation are illiterate and pretty much slaves or scavengers. Artifacts from “pre-war” times are what happens to be used as “coin” or bartering tools, and anything religion or government based simply doesn’t exist anymore.
All in all, I would not suggest this movie at all to anyone not Christian, since the deep Christian overtones clearly come out of hiding multiple times throughout the script. There are times where its so blatantly obvious that there are hidden messages that the writers don’t even bother to hide them. Christians shouldn’t have a problem with the storyline, but will be bored since there’s better stories in the King James Holy Bible then this mess of a movie anyways.
- Chris Tallant