The Book of Eli Reviews
Denzel Washington was great in the lead role. He has a quiet dignity that Eli needed, and also is believable as someone who could take out a gang of thugs. I always like a hero with a focused vision and a willingness to sacrifice everything for what he believes in. Then there is Gary Oldman, who is the guy you always want as your antagonist. He delivers a number of great speeches that make his character much more interesting than just a typical mustache-twirling bad guy. He is subdued early on and only goes over-the-top with his performance when the script calls for it. Mila Kunis is the other lead in the film. She?s kind of an enigma to me, because I can?t tell if she?s a bad actress or if she?s just not asked to do much. She doesn?t do anything to hurt The Book of Eli, but I?d also say she doesn?t add anything to it.
The story was crafted very well, and the action sequences were superb. I loved some of the inventive methods the directors used to film the action, which made it stylized but still realistic. I enjoyed the slow build to the story, and how they used little surprises to keep you guessing at what happened next. There were some slight flaws in execution, and there are certainly some derivative elements to the story, but I still liked it quite a bit. The rest of this review will have to focus on spoilers, if you don?t want anything spoiled then stop reading here. I knew both of the big spoilers in this movie before watching and I didn?t feel it hurt the experience at all, but it still might play better if you don?t know.
The first big reveal is that the most valued commodity for Eli and Carnegie is the Bible. I thought that was a brilliant move, because it meant different things to both of the characters, just as it does in our day and age. Some use it to enlighten or guide their own path, and some use it to manipulate and control others. This theme that religion can be the ultimate power was a fascinating way to take the story, and I loved it. However, I didn?t love that Eli had the entire book memorized verbatim. It pushed the believability a bit far, because it seems daunting even for someone with an eidetic memory. This makes it seem like his abilities are supernatural, but perhaps that fits the intended narrative since he started his journey based on a religious vision, and seemed to have divine intervention protecting him from death.
The final big reveal is Eli?s blindness. This one I had a much more difficult time accepting. It works as a plot point, so they can give the book to Carnegie without actually giving it to him, but it wasn?t set up well enough. I thought they were fighting so hard to NOT reveal it that they almost made it impossible to be true. The way he looks around in early scenes doesn?t jive with a typical blind person. The way he can fight is similar to a superhero like Daredevil, which seemed a bit far-fetched. I appreciated the hints, like his heightened sense of smell, but it just seems like something we couldn?t possibly figure out without them telling us at the end. That minor quibble aside, The Book of Eli is still a strong movie and one I?ll try to watch again soon.