THE BOOK OF ELI is yet another entry in the well-populated post-apocalyptic genre and, to be honest, doesn't do a lot to distinguish itself from its brethren. What makes it an interesting watch are the stylistic choices, well-executed action, and committed performances from a stellar cast. The plot concerns Eli (mentioned by name only once), who is headed west with the last copy of the Bible (in the US, at least). On his journey he meets a warlord (Gary Oldman) who has been looking for the book and wants to use it for his own purposes. From a narrative standpoint, THE BOOK OF ELI keeps things very simple, and even the characters aren't too well-defined, being more archetypes than anything else. Of course, this is mostly fine as the film has higher ideas on its mind than just providing a cool story. There was some passing mention of what caused the world to be the way it is, and attempts at fleshing out the finer details of the world in the film, but nothing on the level of what George Miller did with the MAD MAX franchise. What holds the film together is Denzel Washington, who has made a career out of playing men of action (and, occasionally, few words). He plays Eli with the cool detachment required, but also imbues him with a sense of humor and humanity that makes him a little more relatable. Gary Oldman also does fine as the villain, but his motivations (as well as Eli's ultimate goal) remain unfortunately broad and vague. Mila Kunis is the weak spot in the cast, and she can't quite hold her own against such heavyweights. Outside of Denzel, where the film really shines is the style and action. Although the film has the same de-saturated color palette common in the genre, it contributed positively to the lived-in feeling of the world it depicted. Everything (and everyone) was appropriately grimy and dirty, as it should be when the world has suffered from nuclear war. I also thought there was creative work in the action sequences, particularly the first one in which Eli takes on a group of hijackers. It took place mostly in silhouette, which gave it a comic book feel. In fact, this film would make an excellent graphic novel. Still, the film is not without its problems. The biggest one is the pacing, which stays a little on the slow side. Granted, there are necessary moments where the characters can interact, but the combination of dour visuals and a slow pace didn't really mesh well. Also, as indicated earlier, the vagueness with which character motivation is treated was a bit disappointing. What saves the film from mediocrity is a great payoff in the last 20-25 minutes. I won't spoil anything here, but I will say that it makes a lot of sense if you know your Bible stories. Ultimately, THE BOOK OF ELI is a solid, if unspectacular, entry in its genre, but Denzel Washington's performance, inventive action sequences, and examination of religion's societal role make it worth your time.