The Book of Eli is directed by The Hughes Brothers and written by Gary Whitta. It stars Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson and Jennifer Beales. Music is by Atticus Ross and photography by Don Burgess. Story is set thirty years after a nuclear war and finds Washington as Eli, who is travelling on foot across the desolated landscape to the West of the United States to deliver a sacred book. It's a journey fraught with danger, more so when a stopover in what remains of a town brings him into contact with self appointed town leader Carnegie (Oldman). For Carnegie seeks the book that Eli is guarding with his life......
Post apocalypse movies have had a good run over the years, it's a theme that holds a morbid interest to film makers and film watchers alike. The Hughes Brothers have attempted to give this particular strand some new life by blending the sombre tone of something like Viggo Mortensen starrer, The Road, with Mad Max violence. A blend, it has to be said, that doesn't come totally off as Eli is in turns a God fearing man of few words, then the next a Kali martial artist laying waste to apocalyptic rapists and thieves. Further problems arise with the miscasting of Kunis. A good actress who looks yummy supreme here, but that's half the problem, she just doesn't look right in this apocalyptic set-up, while some of the daftness that comes with her character arc is barely palatable.
However, if accepting it on its two fold terms, it's great as a mood piece and fun as an actioner! Washington is such a watchable star, someone who can lift an average film to better heights. Although this is not one of those average films, he has a commitment to the role of Eli that gives it a believability factor that few modern day actors in the same age group can. Having Oldman on bad guy duties is invariably a good thing, and he duly delivers another memorable one to file in the cabinet, while there's an amusing couple of cameos from Michael Gambon and Frances de la Tour as a husband and wife duo with issues. The look and sound of the film is also impressive, with Ross (co-soundtrack collaborator the Social Network) and the Hughes' scoring it industrial like, and Burgess (Forrest Gump/Cast Away/Source Code) capturing a graphic novel like beauty from the back drop of devastation..
With a couple of genuine surprises up its sleeve, film can't be faulted for lacking ideas, the Brothers to be applauded for not delivering the same old same old post apocalyptic based picture. But it's difficult to accept a bleak message movie (sermon) when the action is so outrageously fun. I liked it very much, but not in the way I had originally hoped. Pays your money and takes your chance, besides, Denz and Gaz are worth the punt anyway. 7/10