The Book of Eli marks the theatrical return of the directing team of Albert and Allen Hughes. The brothers are known for their gritty urban dramas like Menace II Society and Dead Presidents, but for the new decade they’ve decided to go in a different direction. Eli is a post-apocalyptic Western that has elements of an action thriller as well as a religious epic. The film’s cast is led by two time Oscar winner Denzel Washington as the pseudo-savior of mankind, and Gary Oldman as his archenemy. Both deliver strong, polarizing performances that give The Book of Eli the push it needs to go above and beyond your expectations…
- Director: Allen and Albert Hughes (The Hughes Brothers)
- Writer: Gary Whitta
- Actors: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Beals, Ray Stevenson, Tom Waits, Malcolm McDowell
- Music: Atticus Ross
- Director of Photography: Don Burgess
The Book Eli takes place in a post apocalyptic world that’s been ravaged by the sun. The land is dry, the people are burned, and a self-imposed dictatorship is the government of choice. Eli (Washington) is a man of few words, whose one valuable possession is a book. A book that he believes can save the world and return it to a place of order. Carnegie (Oldman) is the leader of a small town, whose been in search of Eli’s “special book” for years. He believes that he can use the sacred text to manipulate the people to carry out his every order. They’re both strong in their convictions and have one thing on their minds. Who will win and eventually gain possession of the book of Eli?
- Jennifer Beals: Beals has a very small part in Eli as the mother of Solara (Kunis), but she manages her time wisely. The actress tells the story of her character with her face and not necessarily her dialogue. She only appears in one scene with Washington, and within it they have the most genuine exchange between two characters in the entire movie.
- The Screenplay: On the surface, Eli looks like a typical sci-fi action flick but it’s much more. The film’s story is simple and centers on the idea of faith and conviction. It’s a theme that can be found in any movie no matter the genre, but screenwriter Gary Whitta was able to apply it to a futuristic setting without it being unbelievable. As a viewer you never forget the basic premise of the film because the characters consistently reinforce it.
- The Editing: In films today there’s a lot of MTV editing that includes excessive, quick cuts. It doesn’t work in every movie and The Hughes Brothers realized that here. This film takes its time, but is still visually stimulating. There’s nothing worse than watching an action movie and not being able to follow what’s on screen (i.e. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen).
- The Makeup: The Book of Eli takes place in a world that’s been partially destroyed by the sun, therefore the look of the characters should reflect that. Everyone had excessively burned skin that was peeling, dry lips, and dry hair. It’s very rare to watch a movie that doesn’t play the audience for fools by having the actors actually look like they live in the world they’re representing.
- The Religious Tone: The religious undertone of the film didn’t bother me personally, but it might turn off viewers who aren’t spiritually inclined. Faith is a major part of the story, almost a secondary character and in order for you to enjoy the film, you might have to turn off any reservations you have about the topic.
The Book of Eli far exceeds the expectations that were previously put upon it. The film has more to offer than what’s shown in the trailers. There’s a deeper meaning that doesn’t fully focus on faith, but also highlights humanity. Backed by an extraordinary cast and beautiful direction, this film is definitely worth your money this weekend.
The Book of Eli will be in theaters January 15th