Reel Shorts | The Book of Eli

14 01 2010

Jesus Walks
While “The Hughes Brothers latest film, “The Book of Eli” has been marketed as a sci-fi, post-apocolyptic thriller in reality it really is an old-fashioned western that tells the fascinating tale of one man on a specific journey with a message that can save humanity . Denzel Washington may have given better performances but none as important as his work in this simple, yet highly-stylized film.

It’s 2043 and the world has been rendered a vast wasteland. It has been thirty years since “the Flash,” an event so catastrophic that the world has been rendered a desolate, lonely dangerous place where the strong prey on the weak, commerce has been reduced to bartering everyday items that are typically discarded to purchase tools to survive while lawlessness prevails. In the middle of the chaos, humble and quiet Eli emerges. All the backpack carrying avenging soldier has on him is a slew of weapons and backpack armed with a one-of-a-kind book.  Headed west, Eli is trying to simply “stay on the path” when evil forces conspire to separate him from his prized possesion. 

While Eli clearly has loftier plans for the book, a corrupt leader of  town, Carnegie (Gary Oldham) is searching heaven and hell for a copy of his own. Interested in bringing order to his new frontier community, Carnegie seeks the power contained within the book for his own selfish purposes. Much lik a western, Eli is like a gunslinger preparing for an ultimate showdown with nothing less than the fate of mankind hanging in balance.

As an action hero, Washington is magnificent.  Although acknowledged as a great actor, one of the knocks against Washington was that because of his strikingly handsome matinee-idol looks it was difficult for him to play an “everyman.” Now 55, Washington’s gritty, seasoned appearance along with his considerable acting muscles converge perfectly as this futuristic loner who in another time could easily have been a western gunslinger in the mode of Gary Cooper or John Wayne.

Oldham is solid as the power-hungry leader who seeks to manipulate the minds and actions of the town much in the same way that others have done using the same tact through the centuries, while Mila Kunis humanize our stoic star. With startlingly effective cinemtography from Don Burgess shot in a combination chromatic andcolor and gritty direction from the Hughes Brothers, this “Mad Max” meets “The Road” is a winning combination. While the future may be a bleak place in films, thank God for strong, inspirational stories such as these.

Washington, who had many important films in his magnificient award-winning career may have produced his most personal work – and that may be a miracle in itself!

Grade: A-

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One response

19 01 2010
Mike

Did you think the humor was over the top?

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